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Friday, November 03, 2006

Taking the pinheads bowling, part one


Our friends at Sadly, No set the stage for today's idiocy. Documents released by the House Intelligence Committee from Iraqi files where dumped wholesale on the Internet. Only problem, they had complete plans to make a nuclear bomb among them. This was apparently the real deal, since the IAEA alerted the US Government and suggested they take them down.

However, the less than mentally nimble Captain Ed thinks it proves that Iraq had a nuke, read and laugh.

How not mentally nimble? Yesterday, he helped Mike Stark with photos he thought shows Stark pushing instead of being pushed. Today, he thinks releasing nuclear weapons info proves something other than Peter Hoekstra needs a new job.

So here’s why Michelle Malkin and all those guys are so stirred up over the alleged new Iraq documents.


Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania and Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, Republicans who lobbied for the data’s release, said it was important that the information be made available quickly to the public, including political “blogs.”

“We’re hoping to unleash the power of the Internet, unleash the power of the blogosphere, to get through these documents and give us a better understanding of what was going on in Iraq before the war,” said Hoekstra, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

This press conference was at 1:30 this afternoon (Thursday, EST), but Malkin and Powerline both had the sirens going hours ahead of time, whether through newly revealed psychic ability or other means. Whatever the case, someone in power is finally paying them some attention, and like the bad Americans they are, they’re jumping into the harness and straining at the carrot.

There’ve been a number of layers to this story, none obviously worth writing about (i.e. funny in a way that works with pictures of talking cats or Charles Johnson chased by UFOs, and so on), until today, when they all coalesced into a huge gob of wingnut-stupid. But it goes something like this — and I’ll lay it out in greater scope and with more links tomorrow, if you’re interested.

In October ‘04, Brent Bozell’s fake news service, CNS News, was leaked a number of alleged Iraqi Intelligence Service documents that allegedly proved the Bush Administration’s WMD claims and the story that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were in cahoots. CNS said that the translated docs were vetted by three unnamed experts, two of whom turned out to be Laurie Mylroie and Bruce Tefft (usual-suspect pseudo-experts with an agenda) while the third was almost certainly Bill Tierney, a right-wing loon par excellence with a storied career as a self-claimed US torture-interrogator, a Terri Schiavo hysteric, and paranormal WMD-inspector. Tellingly, although CNS News talked up the documents, they were very cagey about releasing them, claiming that they didn’t want them to be ‘altered or misrepresented’ by other parties on the Internet, whatever difference that would make with a solid primary source. Smart money said that they didn’t want anyone to see that they were holding a very weak poker hand. All the documents are now available in holographic form in the Arabic original, and by all reasonable accounts they don’t seem very interesting.

But there are supposedly 2 million or more of these docs archived in (I believe) Qatar and elsewhere, of which only a small percentage has been translated, and the story has been widely broadcast via the usual wingnut channels that somewhere amidst them is the vindication of every right-wing canard about Saddam Hussein and the stated reasons for the war. References to the docs have turned up frequently, and many people have pushed stories about them during the past year or so, including a veritable menagerie of the cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs wingnut community. Laurie Mylroie seems to appear with a sulfurous bang wherever they’re mentioned, and the Move America Forward foundation — the boldest and most flagrantly silly of the “nonpartisan” GOP front groups — picked up on the CNS News story, batted it around for awhile, and apparently couldn’t find much to do with it, absent any hard evidence to distort.

But the whole matter came to a head this week with this article in the Weekly Standard by Stephen Hayes — which deserves to be read in its entirety because of how false and funny-smelling it seems. E.g., here we have Indiana Congressman Mike Pence addressing President George Bush:


Pence framed his response as a question, quoting Abraham Lincoln: “One of your Republican predecessors said, ‘Give the people the facts and the Republic will be saved.’ There are 3,000 hours of Saddam tapes and millions of pages of other documents that we captured after the war. When will the American public get to see this information?”

Bush replied that he wanted the documents released. He turned to Hadley and asked for an update. Hadley explained that John Negroponte, Bush’s Director of National Intelligence, “owns the documents” and that DNI lawyers were deciding how they might be handled.

Bush extended his arms in exasperation and worried aloud that people who see the documents in 10 years will wonder why they weren’t released sooner. “If I knew then what I know now,” Bush said in the voice of a war skeptic, “I would have been more supportive of the war.”

“Sure, Doc.” I said in the voice of a cartoon rabbit. “And an in-teresting monster should have an in-teresting hairdo.”

This soap opera mise-en-scene with George Bush is clever of Hayes (it appears to be selectively constructed from interviews with one or more of the congressmen present at the meeting) because it allows Bush personality-cultists to work up a good head of frustration at ‘the administration’ via Negroponte, while holding the actual prime-movers of the administration blameless: Hayes’s big claim is that Bush and Stephen “Hadley, No” Hadley want to authorize the release of the documents that will prove the Administration’s case for the war, but Negroponte refuses to do it, if you can believe that.

The part about Negroponte digging his heels in is almost certainly true, although it’s unclear where the real battle lies. But Hayes also shows, factually, that Pete Hoekstra, chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence, is pushing hard for release, and has exacted concessions from Negroponte to release some scraps of things with ‘no intelligence value’:


Hoekstra says Negroponte’s intransigence is forcing him to get the documents out “the hard way.” The House Intelligence chairman has introduced a bill (H.R. 4869) that would require the DNI to begin releasing the captured documents. […] Hoekstra is not going away. “We’re going to ride herd on this. [releasing some innocuous documents] is a step in the right direction, but I am in no way claiming victory. I want these documents out.”

So there things stand, with the President’s hands tied — and buy that if you will. And if you’re still in the market for any unlikely coincidences, the article’s timing is perfect in a totally innocent, not-on-purpose way. Here, for instance, comes our old pal, GOP flack wannabe John Hinderaker, as usual swallowing the bait past the sinker and halfway up the rod.


Bush told Hadley to expedite the release of the Iraq documents. “This stuff ought to be out. Put this stuff out.”

You’d think that would be the end of the story. If I gave a similar order to my staff, it would be obeyed. Promptly. And you’d probably assume that an order from the President of the United States would be obeyed with even more alacrity. Not so. John Negroponte “owns” the millions of pages of documents and countless hours of tapes that have been captured, but not yet exploited. And Negroponte doesn’t want their contents made public. So it isn’t happening, no matter what President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld say. This is, of course, no way to run a railroad.

Meanwhile, here are some counter-rumblings at the GOP carnival midway (and leak spittoon) RedState, saying that Hayes and Hinderaker and other bloggers ought to lay off Negroponte and not…wait, get this…cause a big headache for the intelligence community by influencing policy with their demands:


I sense the makings of a blogswarm. When Hindraker — a creater of Powerline, one of the calmer and more thoughtful blogs* — determines that Negroponte’s hesitation to release is an indicator that he “won’t get the job done,” and then floats an observation that maybe Negroponte should go (an observation that Hindraker surely knows could easily get legs and sprint around the blogs), IMO that’s not a good thing.

This is a recipe for crisis management-by-blogswarm.

There’s much more there, and read it if you want to enter a strange and magical realm of Wha? but let’s quickly hit that Santorum/Hoekstra item again.


“We’re hoping to unleash the power of the Internet, unleash the power of the blogosphere, to get through these documents and give us a better understanding of what was going on in Iraq before the war,” said Hoekstra, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Welp, Hoekstra, you get what you pay for. Here’s Hinderaker thinking that he’s uncovering the terror secrets of Iraq, when he’s really slipping down the stairs on a roller skate again and quoting from an old English-language clipping from the Federation of American Scientists website. (Click the link — you can tell that it’s full of genuine top-secret Iraqi terror secrets by the spooky animated .gif of a spy smoking a cigarette.)


MORE: Several readers have written to point out that what I took to be a translation of the original document is actually just a print-out from the web site of the Federation of American Scientists. So the question is, what does the Arabic portion, which apparently hasn’t been translated, say? Presumably it comments on the FAS assessment. We’d like to hear from anyone who can translate the Arabic notes.

Nice recovery, Hinder.

The-Great-Gazoo.gif
This carnival of stupid has serious consequenses. As we will see.

posted by Steve @ 9:54:00 AM

9:54:00 AM

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