Wednesday, May 28, 2003

In Monday's Washington Post, Howard Kurtz reported that an internal New York Times e-mail had revealed the identity of the principal source for reporter Judith Miller's dubious claims of WMD "smoking guns" in Iraq -- Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, bosom friend of the D.C. neocons. ("She ... noted that the Army unit she was traveling with -- Mobile Exploration Team Alpha -- 'is using Chalabi's intell and document network for its own WMD work. . . .'")

Now we learn from the New York Observer (scroll past the Jayson Blair story) that the Times's Kuwait bureau during Gulf War II employed Ahmed Chalabi's niece:

The New York Times has quietly ended its relationship with Sarah Khalil, who helped set up the paper’s Kuwait bureau for the war—and who is also the niece of Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress....

In an e-mail exchange with Off the Record, chief Washington correspondent Patrick Tyler—currently reporting from Baghdad—explained that he hired Ms. Khalil, a former staffer with the AFP news agency in Cairo, in January, while setting up the Kuwait bureau for the war.

Mr. Tyler said he met Ms. Khalil, the wife of a Kuwaiti-based businessman and the mother of two small children, while working for
The Washington Post in the 1980’s and hired her as an assistant "whose work was confined to Kuwait." This, Mr. Tyler said, included arranging visas for war correspondents and directing supplies into war zones.

"The politics of postwar Iraq were not even on the horizon," Mr. Tyler said. "I certainly didn’t expect to be covering them. Chalabi was not in the news or even in the region. When he came across the horizon after the war, Sarah and I had a discussion about Chalabi’s rising profile and the appearance of conflict."

According to sources at
The Times, editors and senior writers in The Times’ Washington bureau objected to Ms. Khalil’s presence and demanded that Mr. Tyler relieve her of her duties....


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