Thursday, June 26, 2003

What is it with Pulitzer-prize winning writers for the New York Times? First, Tom Friedman uses his perch on the editorial page to argue for regime change in Iraq as a kind of political outreach to the Arab masses (reach out and crush someone?) completely heedless of whether Dubya's crew would deliver the kind of follow-through required to make that project work.

Now it seems that Judith Miller, a supposedly straight reporter, was doing more than reporting on the search for Iraqi WMD:

On April 21, when the MET Alpha team was ordered to withdraw to the southern Iraqi town of Talil, Miller objected in a handwritten note to two public affairs officers. It said:

"I see no reason for me to waste time (or MET Alpha, for that matter) in Talil. . . . Request permission to stay on here with colleagues at the Palestine Hotel til MET Alpha returns or order to return is rescinded. I intend to write about this decision in the NY Times to send a successful team back home just as progress on WMD is being made."

One military officer, who says that Miller sometimes "intimidated" Army soldiers by invoking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or Undersecretary Douglas Feith, was sharply critical of the note. "Essentially, she threatened them," the officer said, describing the threat as that "she would publish a negative story."

An Army officer, who regarded Miller's presence as "detrimental," said: "Judith was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat," this person said, and MET Alpha "was allowed to bend the rules."

Given the stakes in the WMD hunt -- particularly if you believe that there's enough real stuff out there to talk sensibly about "progress ... being made", you've really got to wonder about Miller's qualifications to deal like this with the Army team, who are supposed to be qualified professionals...

Update: more from Swopa and Billmon on how Miller's ties to Ahmed Chalabi and to Rummy's neocon faction, respectively, screwed up this search...


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