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US: New York Times Admits Iraq Faults

by Jannat JalilBBC
May 26th, 2004

One of the most respected newspapers in the US has said it failed to be rigorous enough in some of its coverage in the run-up to the Iraq war. 

The New York Times' editors say the paper relied too much on reports from Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein without challenging their claims. 

They say that in a number of cases the paper had also relied on US officials who were intent on invading Iraq. 
They say some of the articles with alarming claims were later discredited. 

Going for scoops 

The editors say they were not aggressive enough in questioning some of the claims made before the Iraq war about weapons of mass destruction - by Iraqi informants and at times by Bush administration officials. 

They say some of the articles they published made alarming allegations, that were either discredited or never verified. 
These included the reports about the existence of a secret camp to train Islamic terrorists, hidden facilities where nuclear, chemical and biological weapons were being produced, or how aluminium tubes were proof that Saddam had a secret nuclear-weapons programme.

The editors say that while the original stories were covered prominently, the follow-up stories that called them into question were all too often buried in the back pages.

They say they were partly to blame for perhaps being too intent on getting scoops for the paper when they should have been challenging reporters.

The executive editor at the time these stories were written, Howell Raines, has already resigned.

He stood down last year after it emerged - in the biggest scandal in the paper's history - that a reporter, Jayson Blair, had fabricated or plagiarised dozens of stories.

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