Saturday, August 14, 2004

Judy & Chalabi Sitting In a Tree

In case you haven't heard, a retorter for The New York Times, Judith Miller, has been subpoenaed by a Washington grand jury. The grand jury has been investigating the leaking of the identity of a C.I.A. officer (the wife of Joseph Wilson, the Iraqi/Nigerian "Uranium Connection" debunker) to columnist Robert Novak and others. Strange as it may seem, there has been no official word yet on whether or not Mr. Novak himself has been subpoenaed or, at least, interviewed (with or without the assistance of Dick Cheney).

Over the last three weeks, Judith Miller (Today's Final Jeopardy: What is a good answer for the name of this website: "Why Are We [Fucking] Back In Iraq?") has had four articles published in The New York Times concerning the "Oil-for-Food" scandal, but, oddly enough, none of the articles ("U.N. and Congress in Dispute Over Iraq Oil-for-Food Inquiry" (July 28, 2004), "Bribery Inquiry Needs a Year, Its Chief Says" (August 10, 2004), "Contractors for U.N.-Iraq Aid Agree to Congressional Inquiry" (August 13, 2004), and - co-written by Susan Sachs - "Under Eye of U.N., Billions for Hussein In Oil-for-Food Plan" (front page, no less...August 13, 2004)) ever even mention everyone's favorite counterfeiter (at least, of information, if not of money): Ahmad Chalabi.

In Friday's Times, Ms. Miller notes that "the Hussein government demanded kickbacks on almost every contract it negotiated, beginning in 2000, according to documents from Iraqi ministries obtained by The New York Times this year." Gee, I wonder who they might have been obtained from (perhaps Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz will one day dig up a "red letter" e-mail to prove this...NOTE to all my liberal friends and fellow bloggers: Howie ain't all that bad even if he's not a Cynthia Cotts, David Brock or Michael Wolf).

On August 10th, Ms. Miller noted that "Mr. Volcker said his panel had not yet received the original list of oil vouchers supposedly awarded to diplomats and United Nations officials, which was published by an Iraqi newspaper several months ago. Nor had he determined how his panel would vet such documents to see if they were forgeries, he said." The unnamed Iraqi newspaper is entitled al-Mada, and the unnamed source for the article is allegedly Ahmad Chalabi. Ironically, this particular article appeared on the same page as an article by Sabrina Tavernise ("Chalabi Links U.S. to Charges Against Him and His Nephew") directly about the unnamed man in question.

On July 28th, Ms. Miller observed that "[i]n addition to Mr. [Paul] Volcker's least six Congressional panels, the Treasury Department, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Manhattan district attorney are investigating the program." Of course, she neglects to mention that Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress had been conducting its own "investigation." Nor does she ever mention that the official placed in charge of the operation, Ehsan Karim, head of the Finance Ministry's audit board, was killed in a car bombing over a month ago. I.N.C. spokesman Entifadh Qanbar even told the A.P. that "[i]t's possible that he was killed because of the investigation, which is a serious issue." Just not serious enough to mention in any of Judy's articles, however.

Perhaps Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger's punchdrunk Judy has been advised by their mutual lawyers to refrain from mentioning Mr. Chalabi's name. Perhaps The Times just doesn't care anymore about its own policies on journalistic ethics or conflicts of interests, unless it involves African American writers. After all, Chemical Weapon Judy has written umpteen articles about the unsolved Anthrax mailer case from 2001, without ever divulging that she may have been an intended victim of the same culprit. Oddly enough, a certain African American writer speculated in his surprisingly well-written - yet mostly dismissed - not-so-bestselling memoir that the letter had been self-addressed (at least, that's the way I remember it...though it can't be a crime to misquote that dude).

11 Questions For Judith Miller


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