Shock and Awe

Journalists investigate the assertions by the Bush Administration concerning Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction as a reason for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Most of the administration’s case for that war made absolutely no sense, specifically the notion that Saddam Hussein was allied with Osama bin Laden. That one from the get-go rang all the bells — a secular Arab dictator allied with a radical Islamist whose goal was to overthrow secular dictators and reestablish his Caliphate? The more we examined it, the more it stank. The second thing was rather than relying entirely on people of high rank with household names as sources, we had sources who were not political appointees. One of the things that has gone very wrong in Washington journalism is ‘source addiction,’ ‘access addiction,’ and the idea that in order to maintain access to people in the White House or vice president’s office or high up in a department, you have to dance to their tune. That’s not what journalism is about.

We had better sources than she (Judith Miller) did and we knew who her sources were. They were political appointees who were making a political case.

I first met him (Ahmed Chalabi) in ’95 or ’96. I wouldn’t get dressed in the morning based on what he told me the weather was, let alone go to war.

– John Walcott, Knight Ridder Washington bureau chief

Knight Ridder Washington reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay received the Raymond Clapper Memorial award from the Senate Press Gallery on February 5, 2004, for their coverage of the questionable intelligence used to justify war with Iraq.