Thursday, April 24, 2003

Deconstructing Judith
Jack Shafer, writing in Slate, has again sunk his canines into Judith Miller. At the weekend, Miller had written a supposed scoop, arguing that an Iraqi scientist had made several blockbuster revelations to a special American military team looking for weapons of mass destruction.

As Shafer described it:

[The scientist] claims that Iraq destroyed unconventional weapons and equipment before the war and sent other "unconventional weapons and technology to Syria." He also maintains that in the years before the war, Iraq had shifted its R & D to making illegal weapons that can't be detected easily.

In that article, however, Miller (who was embedded with the military team) described the unusual restrictions under which she was allowed to file her story--restrictions that boiled down to one thing: Miller had no independent confirmation for her allegations other than what the military team told her the scientist revealed to them. She was not allowed to interview the scientist, though she apparently was allowed to look at him from a distance!

Jack's first story on the Miller revelations is here, but the second story (linked above) is much gorier. One highlight:

We can assume today's dispatch wasn't reviewed by military censors because Miller is silent on that score. But we can also safely assume Miller has been told a lot more than she's writing and is actively self-censoring. What isn't she telling us? That some Iraqi Dr. Evil found a way to convert George Foreman grills into WMD machines that transmogrify Bisquick and toluene into sarin, and the ubiquity of this technology makes the Iraqi WMD program invisible to military investigators?

So now the U.S. might not find Iraqi WMDs after all, or else they might be in Syria. That explains a lot...

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