Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Newspaper Columnist: We Misled you

Rick Mercier from the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, VA recently published an Op-Ed piece apologizing for the media's coverage of the war in Iraq. He offers major mea culpas for lots of things:

A study released earlier this month by the University of Maryland’s Center for International Security Studies at Maryland concluded that much of the prewar coverage about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction “stenographically reported the incumbent administration’s perspective” and provided “too little critical examination of the way officials framed the events, issues, threats, and policy options.” Too few stories, the study said, included perspectives that challenged the official line.

He also went on to indict some big names at major papers:

Knight Ridder journalists Jonathan Landay and Tish Wells reported earlier this month that the main Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, fed the Times, the Post, The Associated Press (the primary source of world and national news for this newspaper), and other print media numerous unsubstantiated allegations about the Iraqi regime that resulted in over 100 articles worldwide.

Those articles, the Knight Ridder correspondents found, made assertions that still have not been substantiated but that helped build the administration’s case for invasion. They included claims that Iraq had mobile biological weapons facilities; that it had Scud missiles loaded with poison that were ready to strike Israel; that Saddam was aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons; and that he had collaborated with al–Qaida.

The Times’ diva of disinformation, Judith Miller, had a particularly uncritical fondness for the INC and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi. Last spring, Post media columnist Howard Kurtz obtained an internal Times e–mail in which she wrote: “I’ve been covering Chalabi for about 10 years. He has provided most of the front-page exclusives on WMD to our paper.”

He also mentioned guilty parties in the Bush Administration:

Take Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law, who was Iraq’s weapons chief until his defection in 1995. He was cited by Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and just about every other invasion supporter as an important source of intelligence on Saddam’s arsenal. However, while he was describing all of Saddam’s awful weapons during his post-defection debriefings, Kamel added one little thing that the administration and its mouthpieces forgot to mention: All of Iraq’s prohibited weapons had been destroyed.

A well thought out piece and worth a look.

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