De New York Times
is in de aanloop naar de Amrikaanse verovering van Irak niet al te kritisch geweest over de beweerde aanwezigheid van massavernietigingswapens in dat land. Of eigenlijk, hun Midden-Oosten deskundige Judith Miller
schreef alles wat het Witte Huis en Bush' favoriete Irakees Chalabi zeiden rechtstreeks over.
Er is nog geen zevenklapper met knokkelkoorts gevonden in de Irakese woestijn, en dat roept vragen op. In de Times van 26 mei gaat het boetekleed aan. Ze hebben veel journalistiek bedreven waar ze nog steeds trots op zijn, maar
...we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.
The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on "regime change" in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks. (The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off last week.) Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations — in particular, this one.