Jeffrey LewisNew York Times/’ Mea Culpa

The New York Times has committed, in its mea culpa today, to “continue aggressive reporting aimed at setting the record straight” regarding “the story of Iraq/’s weapons, and of the pattern of misinformation.” Perhaps the most important omission, however, is the emerging realization that the military knew there were no large-scale WMD programs.

John Steinbruner, in the foreword to a CISSM-commissioned study on WMD reporting, explains:

It would have been especially irresponsible for the United States military to have initiated military action against Iraq believing that the country might be able to improvise massively destructive retaliation but not knowing where the relevant assets were located. It seems evident in retrospect, however, that American military commanders were in fact confident in Fall 2002 and Spring 2003 that Iraq did not have any truly serious capacity to harm the United States or any country in the region. That judgment, which would have undermined the justification for war, was not recorded in the news reports reviewed.

The whole CISSM study, conducted by Susan Moeller in the journalism school, is worth a read.