Yesterday, NYT's Scott Shane reported:
American intelligence agencies and presidential commissions long ago concluded that Saddam Hussein had no unconventional weapons and no substantive ties to Al Qaeda before the 2003 invasion.
But now, an unusual experiment in public access is giving anyone with a computer a chance to play intelligence analyst and second-guess the government.
Under pressure from Congressional Republicans, the director of national intelligence has begun a yearlong process of posting on the Web 48,000 boxes of Arabic-language Iraqi documents captured by American troops.
Less than two weeks into the project, and with only 600 out of possibly a million documents and video and audio files posted, some conservative bloggers are already asserting that the material undermines the official view.
Shane says that Intelligence officials had objected to releasing raw documents that contain hearsay, disinformation and forgery. Intelligence director John Negroponte's office released a disclaimer with the documents that said the government could not vouch for their authenticity.
The drive to force the documents' release was led by House Intelligence Committee chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan), who does not believe the documents have received sufficient "scrutiny."
One of the leading conservative bloggers scrutinizing the documents is former Army officer Ray Robison, who told Shane, "No offense, but the mainstream media tells people what they want them to know." Robison also said, "It's not about politics. It's about the truth."
Lord of the Flies
On of Robison's blog headlines boldly declares "Saddam's WMD and terrorist connections all proven in one document!!!."
What follows is Robison's analysis of document IZSP-2003-00003336, which he claims is "proof" of a Hussein plot to attack his own citizens with anthrax and make it look like U.S. forces did it.
Shane's take on Robison's analysis:
But the anthrax document that intrigued Mr. Robison, the Alabama blogger, does not seem to prove much. It is a message from the Quds Army, a regional militia created by Mr. Hussein, to Iraqi military intelligence that passes on reports picked up by troops, possibly from the radio, since the information is labeled "open source" and "impaired broadcast." No anthrax was found in Iraq by American search teams.
Here is a verbatim sample of the text from Robison's blog piece:
Now this letter is from al-Quds, a Jihad organization that supports the Palestinians. Saddam was the patriarch and Iraq officers worked closely with them…
…The al-Quds are covering their own butts by telling the IIS what they have been ordered to do or even trying to get them to stop Saddam since the war is immanent. If Saddam wanted to kill Iraqis with anthrax to make it look like the U.S. did it, it would be wise for him to use Palestinians instead of Iraqis. Therefor, it makes sense that he ordered the al-Quds to do it.
Iraqis might not carry out the order.
How seriously should we take Robison's conclusions?
In his one line bio, Robison describes himself as "The smartest man alive!!!" He repeats this self-appellation in his full biography (copied here verbatim).
Hi folks, I am a military operations research analyst with a defense contractor in aviation and missile research. Before that I was an army officer and member of the Iraq Survey Group.
I set up this site to provide some military expertise in analyzing political events. The main stream media almost always get it wrong, and somebody has to clear up the BS. Guess that leaves it to me, which is okay, because I am the smartest man alive!!! Really folks, I just ask that we keep the comments clean for the kiddies and I will delete the F'bomb and S'bomb (cutesy substitutes are okay), very personal insults, rascist comments, and threats. Now tremble as you prepare to be crushed under my awesome logic and reasoning capacity!!! I will destroy you, AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! (my threats are okay)
One of my favorite examples of his awesome logic and reasoning power is, "I know this sounds crazy, but it is too much of a coincidence."
I don't know about you, but I always tremble at the logic and reasoning of people who admit that they know they sound crazy.
Robison describes his interests as "The fam, the new Battlestar Galactica, Futurama, movies in general, and Jennifer Love Hewitt."
Robison was not happy with the way he was portrayed in yesterday morning's NYT article. Yesterday afternoon, he posted that he had called someone at the conservative National Review Online who agreed that author Scott Shane had "kooked" him.
Robison then listed his military training, experience, and decorations, which included "Odles (sic) of medals I won't list here." He followed that with "Kook that, Scott."
At the end of that post, he wrote, "UPDATE: just talked with Scott (NYT), he says the Kooking wasn't intentional, due to space issues…"
The only "kooking" Scott Shane did was quote Robison a few times, which was nothing compared to the kooking Robison does to himself on his own web site.
Loonies, Crazies, and Freepers
National Review Online rushed to Robison's defense, calling him "…a far cry from the loony-toony crazy-conservative blogger portrayed in the NYT.
NRO must not have visited Robison's blog yet, or read what his supporters over at Free Republic are saying about Shane's NYT article and the document dump issue.
Mr. Shahda [a translator of the documents] said he was proud he could help make the documents public. "I live in this great country, and it's a time of war," he said. "This is the least I can do."
Don't we wish the liberal trash in this country felt the same way?
What happened that they became so rabidly anti American that I cannot say 'liberal ' without saying 'liberal trash?'
The girly-man CIA as been at war against the administration for some time.
Bush knows that they are dragging thier feet on these documents because they don't want to find anything that might support the administration.
So, you could call this document dump: The Empire Leaks Back.
Before this is over, the NYT will look like the biased fools they are. Those documents are providing a virtual tsunami of information and the leftists will be exposed as liars.
i wonder if our site isn't MORE than a conservative news site, as mentioned in the article....sumptin like this site stands for: "truth, justice and 'the American way'"-we've jus gotta get a consensus on 'the American way'....
I shudder to imagine what the Freepers' consensus on "the American way" might be, or how they might arrive at it. Maybe they'll just leave the judgment on that up to the smartest man alive!!!
Kooky Like a Fox?
You have to hand this much to the smartest man alive!!!--his blog site has more sponsors than a NASCAR team. The front page is plastered with full color ads for Playboy and Fredrick's of Hollywood (yes, the ads feature models). But he also has sponsors like Amazon, iTunes, and a number of military oriented publications.
Draw your own conclusions on what this says about the nature of commercialism and political debate in contemporary America. I can summarize mine in one word:
I can hardly believe I live in an age where the rabid right can draw attention away from the latest Downing Street Memo by unleashing its blog dogs. But that's just what it's doing, and some of America's large corporations are funding the project.
And wittingly or not, mainstream media like the NYT are legitimizing the smoke screen by acting as another wall in the kooky echo chamber.