Choosing the BBC as her chosen across-the-pond outlet, Judith Miller has seemingly apologized to her former NYT readers for a “handful” of her stories about WMD and Iraq—“before the war”--that turned out to be wrong. She was interviewed for BBC Newsnight on November 30. There follows a review of the full text.
Her sackcloth and ashes act was confined to: "I am obviously deeply chagrined that I ever write anything that turns out to be incorrect. I'm deeply sorry that the stories were wrong." On WMD, she reported only “what I believed to be right at the time.” She “accurately reported” the intelligence information that “the White House” was receiving, and that it provided to her. In answer to the charge of stenography journalism, serving as a front-page conduit for whatever she was told by Bush Administration sources, her unconvincing defense on BBC was: “If your sources are wrong, you are going to be wrong. The answer is more reporting,” not editors’ notes. But, of course, the more she reported from the Iraqi desert, once the war began, the more wrong she was!
As in the past, there were big caveats and inconsistencies in Miller’s duplicitous tale. “I did not write stories to justify the war,” but to answer questions about Saddam’s possession of WMD. Acting the sincere innocent, she insisted that she had done everything she could “to evaluate the accuracy of the information” she reported. She ran intelligence reports by the UN inspection force—“they were quoted on the record” as saying they agreed or disagreed—and by “independent weapons experts.” “Not a single story” was based entirely on anonymous sources.
In her reporting of "six or seven" flawed pre-war stories on WMD, Ahmad Chalabi—the INC leader—had “supplied only two individuals” as sources. [Never mind that she had once told John Burns, The Times Baghdad bureau chief, that most of the front-page WMD "scoops" prior to the war were due to Chalabi.] “I always identified where the information was coming from.”
Following the lead of the Bush White House in assigning blame for wholesale errors in WMD intelligence, Miller put the monkey on the CIA's back in the BBC interview: "I'm deeply sorry our intelligence community got it wrong. I am deeply sorry that the President was given a national intelligence estimate (NIE) which concluded that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and an active (nuclear) weapons program."
When Judith Miller washes her hands of responsibility in misinforming the public on the road to war in 2002-2003, she would wash the hands of the neo-cons in Vice President Cheney's office and in the Pentagon. Incidentally, don't look for her to do anything but try to help Scooter Libby in his defense in the Plame case.