Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Iraq Document Dump and the Smartest Kook Alive!!!

I'm not surprised that on the day after releasing the story on the latest Downing Street Memo, The New York Times ran one on the Iraqi document dump.

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."

"Kooked"

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:

Yikes!!!

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.

22 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:40 AM

    "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. "

    Actually, the NRO called me, and the Guardian, and now Lemonde has me linked and NPR, sure a lot of attention for a kook with a document with no factual evidence. Maybe you should read the new article where I prove that two of the three claims in the document DID happen. Thats a pretty good record for what is rumor reporting. BTW, did you mention I WORKED with these documents for a year with the Iraq Survey Group as an analyst and maybe I know what I am talking about and am not some hack sniper blogger with no life taking pot shots at experts who know the subject matter. The humor in my blog is clearly sardonic and only the worst hack would try to twist it into a serious discussion. Or maybe the Bender illustration does not demonstrate that my blog contains humor, at least to a moron such as yourself.- Ray Robison

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  2. That didn't take long.

    Actually, I'd say that's the amount of attention I'd expect a kook with no factual evidence to receive.

    Even a moron hack sniper blogger with no life such as myself knows that three true statements in a document don't make the other parts of it true. That the documents indicate some Russian may have given Saddam intelligence on U.S. forces, for example, proves nothing about the existence of a WMD program we have yet to find any real trace of.

    In fact, that's a standard rhetoric/propaganda trick typically used by the likes of Krauthammer and Sowell, a technique you're either taken in by or have learned to imitate.

    I didn't bring up your participation in the Iraq Survey Group because I didn't want to call your service into question. I for one have doubts about the legitimacy of the Group's mission, which appears to have been to fabricate proof of something that didn't exist, and your job seems to have been exactly what you're doing now.

    I also didn't speculate on the reasons you got out of the military after 13 years of service, more than halfway to the 20 year point where you would have qualified for a retirement stipend.

    As to the humor on your blog site, I actually find it quite amusing, but probably not in the same way you do.

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  3. I feel very uncomfortable discussing some of the issues brought up by this document dump for personal/military service reasons. I have the feeling that if Mr Robison had really served with the ISG he would have been aware of various DOD and DA regulations regarding discussion of sensitive material encountered during active service. Release of alleged documents does not negate Mr Robison's legal obligations after return to civilian life.

    I don't want to sound like a party pooper. I think everyone's entitled to write just about any damned thing they damned well want.

    Mr Robison might want to visit Justice Holmes in Schenck.

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  4. I have a feeling that Robison's in safe territory regarding his former exposure to classified documents. His relationship with NRO and FR suggests he has plenty of high cover whether he was actually with ISG or not.

    As to him being able to write anyting he wants--within standards on things like libel, fraud, or conspicuous plagiarism--I agree.

    Which brings us back around to whether or not he was actually with ISG. Personally, being assigned to ISG--an outfit that reported directly to Rumsfeld--isn't something I'd brag about. And if I weren't part of ISG, I sure wouldn't lie about it either. ;-)

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  5. Anonymous1:06 PM

    "That the documents indicate some Russian may have given Saddam intelligence on U.S. forces, for example, proves nothing about the existence of a WMD program we have yet to find any real trace of."
    What are you, a dim-wit? Did anybody say that it did? Nobody I know. You have created a straw man or possibly you can not make the logical distinction that one document contains information on one subject and another document contains different information. WWEEAAAKKK - RR

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  6. Anonymous1:07 PM

    "I for one have doubts about the legitimacy of the Group's mission, which appears to have been to fabricate proof of something that didn't exist"

    HAH, I knew it, you just kooked yourself. -RR

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  7. Anonymous1:09 PM

    "I have the feeling that if Mr Robison had really served with the ISG he would have been aware of various DOD and DA regulations regarding discussion of sensitive material encountered during active service." since the documents are on a government website, talking about them wouldn't seem to be a problem then would it? - RR

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. This document dump just looks like a giant psy-op in the on-going propaganda war. Muddy the waters; obfuscate; blather; rinse; repeat.

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  10. Now...,,, the USG has had these documents for three years. I'm also pretty confident that we've had lots of heterosexual Arabic translators working away at them, and I doubt very much that anything explosive would be released.

    If these guys ever really decided to put unvetted documents out in public view they SHOULD be tried for treason.

    Having at one point in my life actually handled sensitive documents I'm kind of familiar with how the thing goes.

    Before I accepted Mr Robison's word about anything I'd like to see proof that he actually was 1) in the military, 2) actually commissioned as an officer, 3) actually served in the sandbox, 4) actually served with the ISG.

    Caveat: if he can provide photos (and negatives) of Judith Miller bopping half the ISG I'd be inclined to believe him.

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  11. Lurch,

    Thanks for bringing up the Judith Miller aspect.

    Mr. Robison has much to answer for, including why he left the military at 13 years.

    Wonder if he'll care to come back and explain all that to us.

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  12. Well, you know the Judith Miller thing was snark, but I would honest to God stand in a window of Macy's and kiss all four of his cheeks in apology if he could produce a photo of him and Ms Miller doing the wild thang.

    As for 13 years = there are several possibi8lities, including injured/retired, disabled, failure in his second promotion board, and for all I know, involuntary release for failure to maintain security. I kind of think we've seen examples of the third possiblity.

    I could be wrong, and it won't be the first time, nor the last. But in the spirit of honest and open military brotherhood I would invite Mr Robison to be more forthcoming about HIS bona fides, before trying to persuade us of the goods he's trying to market.

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  13. Y'know, one of the things that I've always found curious is that I've sojourned on the far left and the far right in a chequered career and there are more similarities than either side would expect. However, they both hold the MSM in great contempt and are sure that they (the MSM) are biased toward the other side.

    I think I take some comfort in this fact.

    However, my observation of the MSM as a whole is that in the aggregate they behave like a risk-averse, lazy uncle who can't be bothered to work too hard. This is not to say that there are not lots of diligent reporters nor am I saying that particular reporters don't have a bias, I am saying that as a group they tend to behave like I've described.

    I think this is largely because very controversial things cause trouble. Editors always want things to be shorter, no matter how complex they are, and punchier, no matter how detailed they are. And finally, it's hard work to write succinctly (witness this posting).

    "I'm sorry this letter is so long. I didn't have time to write a shorter one." Blaise Pascal

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  14. Lurch, be careful what you wish for -- one word: Photoshop.

    After the fuss about Kaloogian's "ponies for everyone in Baghdad*" photo this week, I expect the next go-round of media-bashing "evidence" to at least have a bit of retouching.

    Publius, amen. News media is just another business, moreso now than it's ever been. Truth is of no concern, unless it sells ads. Nothing personal, just business -- you understand.


    (*any resemblance you see to a town in Turkey means you must hate our troops!)

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  15. Thanks for the heads up, Jeff, but I'm really not concerned. My original request for authentications was:

    Caveat: if he can provide photos (and negatives) of Judith Miller bopping half the ISG I'd be inclined to believe him.

    Note I asked for the negatives as proof of the prints. If Mr Robison is unable to substantiate his bona fides then he's nothing but a Class 4 information source.

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  16. fbg462:35 PM

    Completely OT:

    Maj. Tim Powledge, USMC, CO of Wpns Co., 3/7 Marines and the son of a friend landed yesterday at March AFB along with the 3/7 after their second tour in Iraq. This time they were in Ramadi, which was Very Bad News.

    Welcome Home, Tim and the 3/7.

    Now let's get everybody home.

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  17. fbg,

    Thanks for sharing the good news.

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  18. Jeff said "Mr. Robison has much to answer for, including why he left the military at 13 years.

    Wonder if he'll care to come back and explain all that to us."

    Because I got sick of sacrificing my family life for a bunch of clowns like you who have zero appreciation for the people who protect you. Period. -Ray Robison

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  19. Lurch said "involuntary release for failure to maintain security. I kind of think we've seen examples of the third possiblity.
    "

    Um Sherlock, the documents I have analyzed were declassified so that is not evidence of the release of classified information, moron. BTW since I worked with ISG and currently work in aviation and missile research (all info on my website) then it would be a good guess I had a clearance after leaving the army. So it would be a good guess I didn't get released for leaking intelligence, but way to start lies about people jackass. - Ray Robison

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  20. Two things, Ray.

    Most of the clowns like us sacrificed our family lives and a whole lot more to serve our country.

    And I'm perfectly happy to let you make my point for me by posting at this site.

    But please refrain from throwing around epithets like "moron" and "jackass."

    You chose to make a public figure of yourself through the right wing media spectacle, and you're the one who trotted out "credentials" that some of us find questionable.

    And while it's fair to say I made you an object of ridicule, I did so mainly by quoting you verbatim, so you really did that to yourself.

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  21. I guess that turned out to be five things, but to summarize, you're welcome to post here, but this is not Free Republic or the Ann Coulter home page.

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  22. Anonymous12:49 PM

    In all this back and forth Mr. Robison never addresses the core issue you bring up about the document, that al Quds was a "people's army" set up by Saddam in the late 1990s (Easily available information at globalsecurity.org) and that the rumors the document professes are never substainitated (digging trenches, using American uniforms, etc.). It is now nearly Dec. 2006, the FMSO site has been shut down due to carelessness on the part of the Administration, yet we know that 120 million pages of documents have been analyzed by the DIA (in charge of DOCEX, not the ISG as Mr. Robison asserts), and nothing has come to light about Iraq's WMD program or alleged ties to terrorism.

    As to Mr. Robison's credentials he worked as a contractor for DIA, attached to the ISG. He has no background in Midle Eastern Studies, Arabic, political science, or international affairs. He holds a BS in Biology at the University of Tampa. He seems to have been a minor player on the ISG and given his insecurity on his website, it is safe to assume he doesn't know much about Iraq.

    I was obssessed for a while about this document, that somehow Iraq did have ties to terrorism or WMD. But now I know the truth, it is a shame though that Mr. Robison cannot admit he was wrong about this document and Iraq.

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