Together, again: Miller and Chalabi.

Media criticism.
Jan. 31 2005 7:28 PM

Together, Again

Judith Miller and Ahmad Chalabi.

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This isn't the first time Miller has availed herself of the un-vetted freedom of the airwaves to make a spectacular claim that she didn't (or couldn't) get into the Times. On April 21, 2003, the Times published Miller's report from Iraq about the discovery of buried chemical weapon precursors by the U.S. military's MET Team Alpha. The hot copy that she couldn't move past her editors she blabbed, un-vetted, on The NewsHour With Jim Lehre r the next night. From the NewsHour transcript:

Miller: What they found is a silver bullet in the form of a person, an Iraqi individual, a scientist, as we've called him, who really worked on the programs, who knows them firsthand, and who has led MET Team Alpha people to some pretty startling conclusions that have kind of challenged the American intelligence community's under ... previous understanding of, you know, what we thought the Iraqis were doing.

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Miller's silver bullet quickly turned into fool's gold, and bit by bit she backed away from the story. There were no WMD precursors. The "scientist" was a fraud.

Given her history as the discredited channeller of all things Chalabi, one wonders 1) why Matthews cast her as some sort of Iraq authority, and 2) why he didn't push her harder about her "revelation."He could easily have asked with his trademarked snort, "Judy, is this as solid as your WMD stories?" and "How good are these 'sources' and this 'one report'?"

The last, best question, "Say, Judy, Ahmad Chalabi couldn't be one of your 'sources,' could he?"

*******

Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. For Miller's sake, I hope somebody verifies her sources' information. Send e-mail—or confirmation—to pressbox@hotmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Bloggers Rip My Flesh (Feb 1, noonish, ET) Beating me to the Miller story were The Left Coaster ("Is The Bush Administration Working To Install Ahmed Chalabi In New Iraqi Government?"), Eschaton ("Here we have a New York Times reporter going on the record saying that according to a source, the Bush administration was in talks with Chalabi about a position in the new Iraqi government."), and You Will Anyway ("I wouldn't be surprised if Allawi is marginalized by these elections and the U.S. puts its chips on their old partner-in-crime, Ahmed Chalabi. American officials are already starting to 'reach out' to Chalabi, as New York Times reporter Judith Miller put it on MSNBC's Hardball, offering him all sorts of plum positions in the new Iraqi Cabinet.") Xymphora, taking Miller at face value, riffs off of Eschaton: "Whether it be Baghdad or Cleveland, the people running the United States have developed a certain expertise at running crooked elections staged as a series of televised photo-ops intended to disguise what is really going on." Vegacura asks, "Why, oh why, is Judith Miller still employed as a reporter by the New York Times?" The Sorest Loser: "It's entirely possible that our attempt to discredit [Chalabi] was a mere ruse to make him more popular." The War in Context: "Though Judith Miller doesn't know what a reliable source looks like when it comes to intelligence, there's little question that she has is well informed about the workings of the Bush administration."

(Feb. 1, 3:45 p.m. ET) Media in Trouble: "While I love the fact that Atrios and Shafer are barking up Judith Miller's tree about the Ahmed Chalabi bomb she dropped on Hardball. They seem to be barking up the wrong tree. I realized this because I was watching my DVR recording of the Capital Gang last night and noticed that they had dropped that bomb first. … I wrote them maybe they will link me." The Scooter's Freakin' Wicked Weblog: " … there are a few questions that someone should ask Miller. First, who was her unnamed source? Was it, in fact, Ahmad Chalabi?"

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.