I want to revisit the last post, because I have realized a couple of things since I wrote it that change the emphasis, so to speak. There is something way screwy going on that is way screwy even by Bush Administration standards.
The story thus far: This week the Office of the Director of National Intelligence began to release documents it says were captured in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq. Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard writes about this here. He and Michael Barone have been hyping these documents for the past several weeks as the potential “proof” of an Al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein link.
Yesterday John Hinderacker of Power Line published a post called “In Saddam’s Archives” in which he links to and discusses one of these documents, posted on the Foreign Military Studies Office web site as “CMPC-2003-006430.” And here is that document as posted on the FMSO site [PDF].
Now here’s where it gets screwy. This document consists of a page of what looks like Arabic script (I don’t know Arabic from Parsi from whatever). This is followed by a seven-page document from the Federation of American Scientists about the Iraqi Intelligence Service, with information gleaned from various unclassified sources. This same document is still on the FAS web site, here, and was last updated in 1997, it says. Not exactly super-secret, in other words, and not from Iraq. What it contains is information floating around in the West as of 1997.
Note that Hinderacker doesn’t misrepresent this; he says plainly in his post that “The English portion of the document is a description of the Mukhabarat by the Federation of American Scientists. The Arabic portion apparently hasn’t been translated.” But then he goes on to quote the FAS document under the “In Saddam’s Archives” title, which would leave the uncareful reader with the impression that the FAS document is a translation. For all I know the Arabic portion is a laundry list.
However, Investor’s Business Daily isn’t so careful. Here is an article that quotes this same FAS document as if it were something captured in Iraq after the invasion. IBD trumpets the FAS document as “a manual for Saddam’s spy service” and proof of Saddam Hussein-terrorist connections. IBD says,
In the early stages of the war that began three years ago, the U.S. captured thousands of documents from Saddam and his spy agency, the Mukhabarat. It’s been widely thought the documents could shed light on why Saddam behaved as he did and how much of a threat his evil regime represented.
Yet, until this week, the documents lay molding in boxes in a government warehouse. Now the first batch is out, and though few in number, they’re loaded with information.
Among the enduring myths of those who oppose the war is that Saddam, though murderous when it came to his own people, had no weapons of mass destruction and no terrorist designs outside his own country. Both claims now lie in tatters.
As we’ve reported several times, a number of former top military officials in Saddam’s regime have come forward to admit that, yes, Saddam had WMD, hid them and shipped them out of the country so they couldn’t be detected. And he had plans to make more.
Now come more revelations that leave little doubt about Saddam’s terrorist intentions. Most intriguing from a document dump Wednesday night is a manual for Saddam’s spy service, innocuously listed as CMPC-2003-006430. It makes for interesting reading.
Yep, good ol’ CMPC-2003-006430.pdf. The problem is that the English language part of the document, which IBD goes on to quote, is not from Saddam’s archives. It is from the Federation of American Scientists.
As I predicted earlier, rightie bloggers are gleefully linking to the IBD article as “proof” that we liberals were wrong about Saddam Hussein. These bloggers include Glenn Reynolds, Lorie Byrd, and Cold Fury (upon which I commented and received a nice round of insults for my trouble), among others.
I’d like to point out, before I forget, that the FAS is an independent organization that compiles a lot of information on national security issues. The document being quoted probably is the best information available … in 1997. In the West. From nonclassified sources.
John Aravosis posted about the Negroponte document dump yesterday:
The new documents, released today by the Bush administration, are maybe, but maybe not, real Iraqi government documents that we found in Iraq. The Bush administration can’t vouch for the documents’ authenticity or the accuracy of the translations from Arabic, but they’re releasing them anyway in the hopes that – get this – right-wing blogs can help them prove their case that Saddam had WMD and ties to Al Qaeda.
Yes, it’s come to that. Bush is now relying on Michelle Malkin’s keen intelligence skills to prove the case for war in Iraq.
I think that’s exactly the plan. The documents released so far are mostly junk. But it’s carefully selected junk. And the righties are all too eager to “discover” the wondrous things in them that will justify their support of the war. Glenn Reynolds says “It’s funny that these documents are getting so little attention from the press.” Not funny at all; part of the plan. The last thing the Bushies want is for news reporters, who are sometimes slightly less gullible than your average rightie blogger, to start scrutinizing this stuff closely. (See also this AMERICAblog post for more.)
By dumping a truckload of phony “intelligence,” the Bushies figure they can keep what’s left of the “base” in line.
Yesterday I wrote about why another document actually “revealed” nothing at all that wasn’t already well known, but which a number of righties believed was new information proving that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (not). That’s pretty much the point of the AMERICAblog posts linked above. See also upyernoz.
And notice how well the document dump is timed to Bush’s reaffirmation of the “Bush Doctrine” and the escalation of saber-rattling over Iran. Hmmm.
Update: See also “White House White House caught fixing intelligence again?”
Update update: Sadly, No figured all this stuff out way before I did.