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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Times' November Surprise Is A Dud

The New York Times ran a front page story this morning regarding the Iraqi documents uncovered after Saddam's fall during our invasion. Now readers will remember that these documents were kept under lock and key by DNI John Negroponte, and he was reluctant to release them. Efforts by Jim Sensenbrenner and others in Congress, and a swarm from bloggers, finally forced his hand, and the documents were made avaiable. Almost overnight, the big guns int he blogosphere began pouring over them.

And now the Times claims that there are documents within the cache that might have helped Iran in their nuclear program. The IAEA was one of the first organizations to raise concerns about this, which is ironic. The IAEA has stood by President Ahmadinejad's line that their program is "peaceful," and not meant to produce nuclear weapons. So why all of a sudden does the IAEA show concern for this. That raises red flag number one.

The Times questioning of the document cache has led to the closing of the site. Last night when the news story broke, Thomas tried three different times to load up the document page. It is, indeed, closed down. This was the Times' biggest mistake in the story, and I will explain why.

As many of our readers know, Thomas and I occasionally delve into chatrooms for political debate. And we always seem to get the battiest of the moonbats in those rooms who throw out every DU/MoveOn talking point you could imagine. Everything from "there were no WMDs found in Iraq" to "al-Qaeda had no ties to Saddam." When confronted with such lines, our first piece of evidence to blow their argument out of the water was the document cache, which did show that there was significant progress on Saddam's WMD programs, and his ties to al-Qaeda leaders and fighters. Of course the moonbats never bought this, or they claimed they had read them, and no such evidence existed within the documents.

(What makes that line a lie is that there are over 40,000 documents in the cache, and 99.9% of them are in Iraq's native language. No easy task even for the amateur translators in the blogosphere; certainly an insurmountable task for people who only know how to read crayon and comic books. But I digress...)

When this news came out last night, Thomas first thought that this was a way the Times could deny the administration outside help. Bloggers had been disseminating these documents for almost a year, and they were proving that Saddam was, in fact, much further along in his WMD programs than people thought. They also detailed his ties wioth al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the region. So, Thomas believed that with the portal shut down, the administration lost its amateur analysts.

But, I offer a flip side to the theory, and one I am sure the Times did not realize when this story went to print. As with everything else the Times has done over the last year or so, their reporting of this story is backfiring on them. I cite a section from that story:

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990’s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

European diplomats said this week that some of those nuclear documents on the Web site were identical to the ones presented to the United Nations Security Council in late 2002, as America got ready to invade Iraq. But unlike those on the Web site, the papers given to the Security Council had been extensively edited, to remove sensitive information on unconventional arms.

So UN intelligence also backed up the assertions of the administration that Saddam was indeed working on his WMD programs, especially in regard to nuclear weapons. This is the Times second mistake. They are basically telling their readers that the administration--with all of it's intelligence from various foreign and domestic sources--was backed up by the UN's own intelligence. The Times is presenting, for all intents and purposes, a story that now backs the administration on its call regarding the intelligence it had.

The third mistake, and perhaps the most costliest one, is that they have given credence to the documents themselves. By plucking a couple of records from the cache, and presenting them in this piece, they have told all of their readers that these documents are indeed authentic. Their authenticity by the Left has ALWAYS been disputed since their release. Now the Times has done what we tried to do, which is tell the world that these records from the Hussein regime gave everyone a deeper look into what they were doing over there.

I am sure that the Times believed this was a "gotcha" story for the Bush administration. A sort of "nyah, nyah, nyah; we got you again" moment. But in their rush to find something to throw on the president they overlooked what effect the story might have on those that had a head start on them. Thank you New York Times for giving us authenticity in the endeavors we worked on. We bloggers appreciate it.

The fourth mistake the Times made is that they ran this story on a Friday. Will this be a topic on the talking heads shows for the weekend? Not likely. With the election less than 120 hours away, the focus will be on the midterms, and this story will have little, if any, effect ont he elections. Their surprise backfired on them in more ways than they know. And instead of having a number of bloggers irritated at them for releasing more classified information--namely that the IAEA is worried that these documents might prove useful to the Iranian regime--we are laughing at them because of how utterly inept this story is in terms of their slanted bias. So eager were they to hit the president over his incompetence in letting this information out that they completely overlooked their own in disseminating it. They did not realize, I am sure, how much of a boon this was for our side of the argument.

And we are not alone in picking up this story. Captain Ed is on it, and has several links to past documents that he has covered. Allah @ Hot Air is also running a round-up of reaction and analysis. Jim Geraghty @ NRO is elated at the Times' blunder, and takes pretty much the same attitude that we have on this story: For a November surprise, crow is on the menu for the Times. Ace @ Ace of Spades also believes this is a case of "overpromise" and "underdelivery" for the Times, and sums up his piece nicely with this:

Iraq had advanced plans to build a bomb (but it was no threat to build a bomb!) and Bush is horrible because he let those plans be posted on line, which Iran may use to build a bomb (but we also don’t have to worry about them building a bomb, so don’t get any tricky ideas about bombing them!).

Professor Reynolds cautions people not to get too carried away by this because there is no evidence Saddam would have had a working nuclear weapon by now, but he notes that this does seem to kill the "Bush lied about WMDs" line from the moonbats. TigerHawk cannot believe
  • that Iraq actually was close to building a nuclear weapon. (Not so tongue-in-cheek humor there.) Chester brings up another point:

  • A senior American intelligence official who deals routinely with atomic issues said the documents showed “where the Iraqis failed and how to get around the failures.” The documents, he added, could perhaps help Iran or other nations making a serious effort to develop nuclear arms, but probably not terrorists or poorly equipped states. The official, who requested anonymity because of his agency’s rules against public comment, called the papers “a road map that helps you get from point A to point B, but only if you already have a car.”

    Doesn't this buttress the argument that Saddam could easily have restarted his nuclear weapons program if the sanctions regime collapsed? If the Arabic documents can show Iran's scientists how to get around failures, then surely they could show Iraq's?

    But Dean Barnett sums it up best:

    Let’s just posit for the sake of argument that the Times’ huge exposé is news-breaking of the first order and is no way, shape or form a maladroit effort at electioneering. Let’s assume that the Times really does think that this information being posted on the web made the world a vastly more dangerous place.

    If that’s the case, why did the Times wait until just last night to confront the government with this information even though the Times dates the concerns of experts to “recent weeks”? One would think the Times’ heartfelt patriotism would have compelled the paper to bring its concerns to the government immediately rather than hold off until four days before an election.

    Giggle. Read the Times’ story closely and you’ll hear yet another death rattle from the lumbering carcass of the mainstream media.

    Heh. Death rattle. Is the Times not just a little too late for Halloween?



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