Iraq Intelligence

Knight Ridder journalists honored for stories on war planning

WASHINGTON — Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel of the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau received the Raymond Clapper Memorial Award from the Washington Press Club Foundation on Wednesday for their coverage last year of the Bush administration's use of faulty intelligence in planning the war in Iraq.

The award, announced at the foundation's annual dinner honoring Congress and journalism, recognizes Washington-based daily newspaper reporting that is "fair and painstaking" and contributes to "public enlightenment and a sound democracy." It carries a $1,500 cash prize.

Landay and Strobel won the award for stories last year that explored the accuracy of Bush administration claims about Iraq's weapons capabilities. Among the stories was the first report to discredit claims that Iraq had attempted to purchased uranium in Africa. Other stories showed how the Bush administration ignored warnings from the CIA that many of the claims used to justify the war couldn't be verified.

"This series was driven by the conviction that the American people had the right to know how administration officials made the decisions that took American soldiers into war," the letter nominating the series said.

A story in the Feb. 26 issue of The New York Review of Books praises the reporters' work. "Almost alone among national news organizations, Knight Ridder had decided to take a hard look at the administration's justifications for war," it says.

Last week, former weapons inspector David Kay told Congress he now thought that Iraq didn't have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction when the war began, as the Bush administration had asserted. President Bush is expected to name a commission to investigate why U.S. intelligence about Iraq's weapons capabilities was incorrect.

Landay, 48, has been the Washington bureau's national security correspondent since 1999. Previously, he covered South Asia and the Balkans for United Press International and defense and foreign affairs for the Christian Science Monitor.

Strobel, 41, has covered foreign affairs for the Washington bureau since 2001. Before that he covered national security and intelligence for U.S. News & World Report. He's the author of the book "Late-Breaking Foreign Policy," a study of how CNN and other news media affect U.S. foreign policy and the deployment of American troops abroad.

Knight Ridder, the nation's second largest newspaper organization, publishes 32 newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury News, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.