I don’t know whether to write this post or just put in a call to Jack Shafer, who’s been on the case for months. But you really must read Tuesday’s article by Judith Miller in the Times about Syria’s “ambitious program to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.”
Miller of course has come in for a great deal of criticism, and rightly so, for her long record of highly credulous reporting about Iraq’s WMD programs and support for various terrorist groups. Much of that reporting was apparently based on very uncritical sourcing to the usual suspects in the Iraqi exile community and equally dubious sources in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. (Howard Kurtz famously got hold of an email in which Miller lectured a Times colleague about how Ahmed Chalabi was the source for “most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper.” For more of the details see Shafer’s on-going reporting.)
Now she’s back at it again with Syria, with a piece which looks to be based on the same set of sources and clearly takes the same credulous approach.
It seems widely accepted that Syria does possess chemical weapons. And they clearly support terrorist groups in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories. But an ambitious program to develop nuclear weapons? Here’s what the CIA’s most recent public report on rogue state WMD says: “Syriaâan NPT signatory with full-scope IAEA safeguardsâhas a nuclear research center at Dayr Al Hajar. Russia and Syria have approved a draft cooperative program on cooperation on civil nuclear power. In principal, broader access to Russian expertise provides opportunities for Syria to expand its indigenous capabilities, should it decide to pursue nuclear weapons.”
That seems rather short of an ambitious program.
The truth is, who knows? Maybe they do have one. But Miller’s sources’ credibility on this stuff is pretty near shot. And, frankly, so is hers.