I really want to like the New York Times, I really do. Maybe because its the paper that was at the table every day when I grew up, maybe it is because I live in New York. But no matter what, the newspaper of record manages to piss me off.
Recently, Calpundit has written not once, but twice, about how the Administration is shifting the goal posts of the hunt for WMDs.
Terminology update: we’re no longer looking for weapons of mass destruction — that was all just a misunderstanding, apparently — we’re looking for weapons programs.
Calpundit was referring to yesterday’s Washington Post article. That article stated:
Bush administration officials have hoped that extensive debriefings of former top officials of Hussein’s government would provide some of the backing for its prewar assertion that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States. So far, the United States has discovered no undisputed physical evidence that Hussein had stocks of chemical or biological weapons or was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program.
However, today’s New York Times decides to spin the story in favor of the administration. Who knows why? Here is the “theory” put forth by “intelligence experts” according to the Times:
Saddam Hussein, the theory holds, ordered the destruction of his weapon stocks well before the war to deprive the United States of a rationale to attack his regime and to hasten the eventual lifting of the United Nations sanctions. But the Iraqi dictator retained the scientists and technical capacity to resume the production of chemical and biological weapons and eventually develop nuclear arms.
Now, this isn’t really news for anyone whose been following things. It confirms what most of us already knew: (1) Hussein didn’t have WMD’s anymore, and (2) he hadn’t given up the hope that he could rebuild his weapons programs in the future. What is news to me however is this:
Now the administration’s critics seem to suggest that the absence of weapons stocks means that the Saddam Hussein regime had somehow abandoned its goal to be an assertive regional power.
Uh… who is saying that? Nobody I’ve read! Sources please? All I heard was people saying that the administration lied about the existence of a threat, and that Hussein could be contained. North Korea has clearly stated such intentions and we seem perfectly happy to exercise restraint and follow a policy of containment against North Korea. Nobody is denying that Hussein was an evil dictator with regional ambitions — we’re just saying he couldn’t act on them and that it didn’t require a war to prevent him from acting on those ambitions in the future.
I really wish I could like the New York Times…
UPDATE: I forgot to add this link to an excellent Slate article about Judith Miller of the NY Times:
If reporters who live by their sources were obliged to die by their sources, New York Times reporter Judith Miller would be stinking up her family tomb right now. In the 18-month run-up to the war on Iraq, Miller grew incredibly close to numerous Iraqi sources, both named and anonymous, who gave her detailed interviews about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Yet 100 days after the fall of Baghdad, none of the sensational allegations about chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons given to Miller have panned out, despite the furious crisscrossing of Iraq by U.S. weapons hunters.
2nd UPDATE: Calpundit’s take on the NY Times story:
This is obviously the theory of the day, and administration sources managed to get it published in two different mainstream outlets. Apparently we really have given up on finding WMD, and the ground is being prepared for a climbdown