Wednesday, May 26, 2004

# Posted 7:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CHALABI-GATE: This is one of the issues I missed out on while in California, so all I can really do is direct you to some of Kevin Drum's comprehensive posts on the subject. For background on Chalabi, see Kevin's detailed timeline. The big question, of course, is what exactly Chalabi did to provoke a US raid on his compound.

While Josh Marshall thinks it's just a matter of Beltway politics, Kevin thinks that Big Media got the story right that Chalabi was caught red-handed selling us out to the Iranians. Incidentally, TPM's hypothesis matches up with that of Chalabi booster Michael Ledeen, who still suspects that Chalabi was a victim of politics, not of his own crimes. Kevin, however, thinks Michael is grasping at straws.

One interesting side effect of Chalabi-gate is that it has forced the NY Times to issue a lengthy and detailed public apology for its breathless reporting about Iraqi WMD programs. As Jack Shafer points out, almost everything the Times got wrong was the fault of correspondent Judith Miller. It is certainly quite remarkable that such a bulwark of anti-war sentiment would be taken in by shoddy anti-Saddam propaganda.

One might say that this is red-flag evidence of conservative media bias. My sense, however, is that the NYT fell prey to the consensus across the spectrum that Saddam really did have major stockpiles of WMD. With no one out there saying otherwise, why should the Times question the work of its own correspondent? And if the anti-war editors at the Times were unable to think critically about WMD, is it really surprising that Cheney and Rumsfeld had similar problems?

Anyhow, getting back to Chalabi, all OxBlog has to say is good riddance to bad rubbish. As time passes there is more and more evidence that Chalabi sold the US a bill of goods -- intentionally. WMD aside, it still reflects very poorly on Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz placed so much faith in someone with so many black marks on his resume. As we said almost eight months ago, "there is good reason to only expect the worst from Chalabi."
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