Friday, December 13, 2002

One-day wonder? No real follow-up today to yesterday's explosive Washington Post story on allegations that Iraq recently supplied a group linked to Al Qaeda with nerve gas. The Post itself runs a dispatch from the Associated Press in which Saddam Hussein's government issues a ritual denial.

Reader RB upbraided me last night for failing to note that the sourcing in the original story was a tangled mess of anonymity. Fair point, though I believe anyone who read the story could tell that it was transparently coming from Bush-administration sources. Protecting sources is unremarkable; the question is whether reporter Barton Gellman and his editors exercised due diligence in determining whether those sources were passing along reliable information, or were simply trying to blow smoke up the Post's, uh, tailpipe.

Not that the Post was under any particular obligation to advance the story today. But if there's no significant follow-up soon, that will speak volumes about the original report.

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