Er, about that Iraqi-Al Qaeda nerve-gas connection ... Some post-holiday clean-up. Remember that front-page Washington Post story reporting that Bush-administration officials believed a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda may have obtained nerve gas in Iraq and smuggled it out of the country? Well, here we are three weeks later, and still no follow-up or further details. Not only that, but it turns out that on December 22, the Post's pit-bull ombudsman, Michael Getler, gave the story the hairy eyeball and questioned reporter Barton Gellman's sourcing and equivocations. Wrote Getler:
It is to Gellman's and The Post's credit that all of these uncertainties are laid out. But the effect on the complaining readers, and on me, is to ask what, after all, is the use of this story that practically begs you not to put much credence in it? Why was it so prominently displayed, and why not wait until there was more certainty about the intelligence?