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November 03, 2006

Comments

yes, he was a year away in 2002... and all the physical evidence, all the components, material and manufacturing facilities for this.... vanished.

What is truly amazing is that this is the administration that refuses to talk about so many things on the basis of national security, that blames the NYT for breaking the story about the “wiretapping” because it will alert terrorists of what we are doing (as if they didn’t know already), that has classified more documents than the last several administrations combined.

I am sure that they will complain about the NYT breaking this story as now it alerts our enemies to look at our own maintained web sites. The NYT must be American-hating, terrorist liberals.

Hilzoy: They have done astonishingly little on securing Russian loose nukes, preventing nuclear proliferation, trying to ramp down the nuclear programs that already exist

You have a gift for understatement.

This regime is not merely unserious about preventing nuclear proliferation, they're actively promoting it. As I said six months ago in an effort to make the point that their warmongering about Iran has nothing to do with weapons (just as the warmongering about Iraq didn't, either):

They have unilaterally abrogated the ABM treaty, defunded the disposal of Soviet client nukes, adopted an official first-strike nuclear posture, developed new nuclear weapons, encouraged favored governments to undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty, bullied international arms control agencies, purged arms control experts from the State Department, weakened international agreements and alliances of all kinds...

Doesn’t the next paragraph clarify the timeframe?

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.

I guess it’s still possible that they were presenting 1990 documents in 2002. I agree that they need to clarify this point.

One more question – does this now mean we (you, me, the NYT) accept this archive as being authentic? Previously translated documents demonstrating ties to terrorism, ongoing WMD work etc. were discounted as not being proven genuine. OK, I’ll admit before someone points it out that the IAEA and anonymous European diplomats authenticating this set of documents does not validate the entire archive.

I seem to recall that these documents were at least screened for security concerns before being made public. Someone obviously screwed up.

BTW – I think that one of the administrations biggest post-war blunders is not having all these documents translated by now. Is it really that difficult to find and run background checks on translators?

I guess it’s still possible that they were presenting 1990 documents in 2002.

It's not that it's "possible." It's what happened. Everything in the article refers to pre-Gulf War activities.

...authenticating this set of documents does not validate the entire archive.
Of course not, and I doubt anyone has ever suggested that someone forged the entire archive full of documents. That would be a huge, difficult, and pointless undertaking. The worry is that is would be very easy for someone to slip a few forged documents into the archive.

The first paragraph from the WaPost article clears this up a bit:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said yesterday that it shut down a public Web site after complaints from U.N. weapons inspectors that the site included sensitive details about constructing nuclear and chemical weapons. The documents were collected in Iraq after the March 2003 invasion but predate the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

h/t Echidne.

Apparently some folks insisted that this material be made publicly available in the hope that evidence of an '03-invasion vintage weapons program would turn up. Instead, they've made highly detailed information about atomic bomb manufacture available, in Arabic, on a publicly accessible website.

I don't care if you're politically conservative, liberal, anarchist, libertarian, or anarcho-syndicalist. This isn't about political orientation, it's about blind, stupid incompetence and irresponsibility.

"Somebody screwed up" doesn't begin to cover this. Short of actually inviting sworn members of Al Qaeda to Los Alamos for a hands-on seminar on nuclear weapons construction, this is about the worst possible thing anyone could have done. So they took the site down? That material is out there now, it will never go away. That genie is out of the bottle.

These people should not be allowed to hold any position of responsibility, ever again. It's time to drive them from public life, every last one of them. They are shameful, stupid, venal, clownishly mendacious incompetents.

To paraphrase Moe Howard, whenever they think, or even try to think, they weaken the nation. It would be hilarious if it didn't affect everybody else in the world.

Why does anyone attempt to defend this?

Thanks -

Why does anyone attempt to defend this?

because it proves Iraq had WMD!!! Victory for Bush !!!

It's not that it's "possible." It's what happened. Everything in the article refers to pre-Gulf War activities.

The paragraph Hil highlighted begins “Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors…” so there are clearly documents from 2002.

But on reconsideration, I don’t equate reports written for the inspectors with detailed weapons plans.

I don't think much of this administration... to say the least. But this story is still a stunner for me. I am not typically inclined to give this admin the benefit of any doubt but it just seems impossible that even they could be this irresponsible. The absolute stupidest person I know would know better than this. If the story is at it seems, I don't know how I will be able to sleep at night.

I remember at the time of the original release people were wondering how it was possible to treat documents as "non-classified" when they hadn't been translated.

because it proves Iraq had WMD!!! Victory for Bush !!!

Bizarro World strikes again!

And yes, victory:

Fifty-six bullet-riddled bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraq police in the previous 24 hours, a Baghdad emergency police official said Friday.

Some of the bodies showed signs of torture, the official said. Iraqi police were unable to identify the bodies. Dumped, slain bodies are found daily in the capital and police think these deaths have evolved out of Sunni-Shiite sectarian vendettas.

Apparently some folks insisted that this material be made publicly available

Who would that be?

The campaign for the Web site was led by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan. Last November, he and his Senate counterpart, Pat Roberts of Kansas, wrote to Mr. Negroponte, asking him to post the Iraqi material.

Peter Hoekstra
http://hoekstra.house.gov/

Pat Roberts
http://roberts.senate.gov/public/

Give them a call and say "thanks!".

Kimon Kotos, Hoekstra's opponent in the MI 2nd district:
http://www.kotosforcongress.com/

I bet he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell, but you never know.

I don't know if Roberts is running this year or not.

Throw these creeps out. That's the way it gets better. That's the only way it gets better.

Thanks -

so there are clearly documents from 2002.

Sure. Just not nuclear related documents. Remember, there were all sorts of documents posted, including quite possibly, Saddam's grocery list. The original article is fairly clear when the nuclear research was dated:

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

BTW – I think that one of the administrations biggest post-war blunders is not having all these documents translated by now. Is it really that difficult to find and run background checks on translators?

Well, there's the little problem of the military throwing out a lot of their qualified translators, you know....

Some of the bodies showed signs of torture

correction: Some of the bodies showed signs of tough interrogation.

Sure. Just not nuclear related documents.

Agreed. I did clarify that in a follow up post:
But on reconsideration, I don’t equate reports written for the inspectors with detailed weapons plans.

Josh Marshall has a cite up referencing a report that Congress has slipped a little downsizing into a defense appropriations bill.

The guy (a Republican) who has nailed contractors in Iraq for fraud, abuse, and shoddy workmanship will be given a pink slip.

I'm thinking new, very large jails will need to be built to house an entire political party. Another reason to raise taxes .... on them only. We could offshore their eternal incarceration to save hard-earned tax dollars.

Reportedly, the Hague is looking into mobile, temporary holding cells for the influx of prisoners. The prices of Rolexes on the black market have plunged. Bloggers at Red State are keeping their arsenic capsules handy. Evangelical honchos and prostitutes of all flavors are putting their houses up for sale in roughly equal numbers. Abramoff sits at a grey metal desk singing a single, clear note like a boy soprano in a monastary. Rats, cockroaches, and silverfish are scurrying for cracks and crevasses all over the land. Chickens in dress-right-dress ranks await their grim roosting. Dinesh D'Souza, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh dig for the Orc King.

These people should not be allowed to hold any position of responsibility, ever again. It's time to drive them from public life, every last one of them. They are shameful, stupid, venal, clownishly mendacious incompetents.

Politics are ugly and hateful. That's why I'm happy to have a free market economy, so at least 50% of my life is unaffected by the ugly hatefulness of it all.

That said, it is election time, and the ugliness of politics is perhaps necessary. But you're kidding yourself if you think that there is only stupidity and mendacity on one side.

Oh dear God ...

But you're kidding yourself if you think that there is only stupidity and mendacity on one side.

the amounts on the two sides are not equal, however.

Does this mean all of Saddam's IIS files are legit?

Oh dear God ...

What, hilzoy? you didn't think they were goign to let a little reading comprehension, common sense, and the fact that the administration is not screaming about this from the high heavens, get in their way of firmly concluding that saddam was only 12 months away from a bomb in 2002? And all this based on an article in the NYTimes, the same paper that, you know, hates the administration, ignores all the good news in Iraq, and is hopelessly biased against everythings republican?

Wow, at least three people in the Bizarro World thread cleek linked to above have pointed out that the article doesn't mean what they think it means. Willing suspension of disbelief only goes so far over there, I guess.

Surely the Anchoress is a parody blog, like Scrutator?

Oh dear God

honestly, this makes me sad for those people. desperation has completely taken over their minds.

In any case, I expect that the Timess will clarify things soon enough,

Ah, but that will merely validate things in the eyes of the wingnuts, the NYTimes, realizing (in horror!) what it's done, will change the story and it will be held out as proof that the story must be true, because why else would the hoplessly biased Times change it?!!?!?!??!

OT: this is cool. see which words are most frequent in Presidential SOTU's, by president.

DaveC.

"But you are kidding yourself if you think there is only stupidity and mendacity on one side."

Oh, I think we all know that. After all, when I vote I try to put people in office who are a reflection of me and my values. Stupidity and mendacity are at the top of the list of the traits I look for. But I don't care for these elite types who jump into their trousers two legs at a time like Houdini and think their mendacity and stupidity is better than mine. I want my elected peers to be like me, the better to avoid snotty officiousness.

What I don't like in my government are stupid, mendacious people who practice their stupidity and mendacity with such earnest and hyper-organized enthusiasm. I like a little haphazardness and amateurism in my officialdom, rather than professional, handpicked, stupid, mendacious people speaking in one stupid, mendacious, but absolutely certain, inerrant, God-given, rehearsed voice. What I really don't care for (silly me, being so picky) is when my government is stupid and mendacious and then stupid and mendacious people at FOX and on talk radio and at the Washington Times and other movement outfits, who used to tell me all government was inherently stupid and mendacious and should be abolished, now tell me that we have achieved the most superlative, God-given stupidity and mendacity ever known in the history of the United States, but we need two more years of putting a high sheen on the result.

Hey, I'm only kidding, Dave. The question, of course, is how is it that fairly well-meaning people like you and me, and Hilzoy and Andrew, and OCSteve and Ugh, and Charleycarp and Sebastian, and Slart and Jes (if she's voting, suddenly I like Diebold), and LJ and Von manage to cough up such professional stupidity and mendacity right on schedule every two years.

and Jes (if she's voting, suddenly I like Diebold)

*rubs hands gleefully*

*sings happy little hacker song*

...you'd expect this to be at the top of the story, not buried in a throwaway line...

I think that would depend to a great extent on whether you thought the NYT was dedicated primarily to the denigration of the United States and the overthrow of the GOP and only secondarily to journalism. There are quite a lot of people who literally believe that the NYT wants America dhimmified, and we forget them at our peril.

The GOP PR machine is way, way off its game. Since this was apparently posted a while ago, and the IAEA suggestion that it be taken down was unheeded, I think we can safely conclude that what was supposed to happen is reflected in various TNR, RedState etc posts suggesting that this proves that Saddam was on the verge of having nukes (extra funny is Geraghty's bit about how this means that Saddam was trying to get yellowcake, and therefore Joe Wilson is a boob).

Also FWIW, it sounds like the stuff in the docs was all stuff that Iran (or pretty much any state-based player) would already know, or near enough. The people who would benefit from this kind of info are basement lab types whose access to materials and that kind of precision machining is, even under this administration, going to be pretty constrained anyway. I haven't decided yet whether that makes me more safe or less safe.

The nutball right wing reaction to this thing is a bigger story than the idiotic posting of the documents.

Who knows how significant the documents were -- a basic guide to building an atomic bomb has been out there for a very long time. I can understand why non-proliferation experts would not want sensitive technical details on the web, but I doubt the information was that critical.

As for the reaction, I guess it shows that the right wing willingness to believe in nonsense to justify wars remains unblemished despite the Iraq debacle.

Is it really that difficult to find and run background checks on translators?

I suspect that it's prohibitively difficult to find translators who are able to pass both the security-related background checks and the ideological and party-loyalty checks.

No, I'm not joking. Not even a little bit. But neither am I brave enough to contact my former neighbor the FBI translator (since the eighties) to ask whether my suspicion has any basis in reality.

Quoth the cleek:

Some of the bodies showed signs of torture

correction: Some of the bodies showed signs of tough interrogation.

Further correction: Some of the bodies showed signs of fraternity hijinks.

Off topic - man ABCNews is on a role:

Haggard voicemails asking for drugs.

Apparently it's not just John Kerry who thinks people who enlist in the Army are stupid. "An ABC News undercover investigation showed Army recruiters telling students that the war in Iraq was over, in an effort to get them to enlist."

GOP accepts money from gay porn producer who used troops on active duty in his videos.

The nutball right wing reaction to this thing is a bigger story than the idiotic posting of the documents.

Put the Sec. of State on that list.

For what it's worth Hilzoy, I thought you showed incredible restraint in your comment to McQ over a QandO

He's become almost a sad parody these days.

I suspect that it's prohibitively difficult to find translators who are able to pass both the security-related background checks and the ideological and party-loyalty checks.

No, I'm not joking. Not even a little bit. But neither am I brave enough to contact my former neighbor the FBI translator (since the eighties) to ask whether my suspicion has any basis in reality.

Well, why would any translator WANT to work for the government, given they boot them out of the military if they're gay? That's not an action that's going to endear the government to skilled translators in any event....

Just wanted to second the comment about the stupidity of kicking out gay language translators at the beginning of the War on Terrorism. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Just in time. I've been looking for an example of a kakistocracy.

But you're kidding yourself if you think that there is only stupidity and mendacity on one side.

Eisenhower was president when I was born. Don't really remember him.

I saw Kennedy drive by at a parade when I was a kid. Among other things, he gave us the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

LBJ was a manipulative thug, deliberately misled the nation into an accelerated involvement in Vietnam, then tried to hide the bad news.

I hardly know where to begin with Nixon.

Ford pardoned Nixon.

Carter was a lovely man, but managed to make a variety of pretty bad situations worse while in office.

Reagan's affability and optimism was a welcome balm for the nation at a bad time, and for a guy that came off like an idealogue he was suprisingly pragmatic, but he let the foreign policy of this nation be run by a bunch of demonic merry pranksters.

Bush pere pardoned those guys.

Clinton was probably the most gifted politician since FDR, but was personally a corrupt guy. He abused his office for his personal pleasure, and to do favors for friends.

I think it's fair to say my rose colored glasses are firmly off.

In all my fifty years, I've never seen anything quite like the absolute, unmitigated combination of stupidity, hubris, venality, and irresponsibility, all served up with a garnish of devil-may-care glee, that characterizes every corner of the current executive and most of the Republican side of Congress.

Throw these creeps the hell out. They have proven themselves, over and over and over again, absolutely undeserving of office.

I hope I've made myself clear.

Thanks -

John Thullen:

Man, you are on a roll today :)

Off topic (again, sorry)- I didn't realize that 12 states had passed voter ID laws recently.

And this quote is just, well, beyond belief:

"We believe photo ID is the kind of confidence-building measure that is warranted in light of past fraud," said Mark "Thor" Hearne, the chief election lawyer for the 2004 Bush campaign and now counsel to the American Center for Voting Rights, a conservative advocacy group. He predicted the identification laws will prompt higher turnout.

This is Karl Rove's surprise, methinks.

I didn't realize that 12 states had passed voter ID laws recently.

i walked into the voting place last night, they asked me my name. i told them. they asked me if i still lived at [my address]. i said "yup". they gave me a ballot and sent me on my way. they didn't ask for, or look at, any kind of ID at all.

i'm just happy i got there before someone voted using my name.

"John Thullen:

Man, you are on a roll today :)"

I always knew John T. was a hot dog!

Pete Hoekstra's Statement (Top of the page at MM, that is the only place I can find it online)

That said, it is also important to emphasize that the IAEA, contrary to its assertions, never raised any concerns about this material with the United States Government before going to the press. Similarly, the DNI's office has informed me that no agency of the U.S. Government had raised any issues about the potential or actual release of these documents before yesterday. If there were such problems, they would have been better addressed through the appropriate channels rather than the press.

Fair enough, and bad if they went straight to the press. But then:

"Second, my staff's preliminary review of the documents in question suggests that at least some of them may be internal IAEA documents. There is a serious question of why and how the Iraqi these documents in the first place. We need to explore that carefully - I certainly hope there will be no evidence that the IAEA had been penetrated by Saddam's regime.”

Hot Air: (email from someone else, not a poster)

Looking at these two stories as related items is interesting. Essentially you have the same type of IAEA story being run through the same NYT reporter right before an election. In 2004, there were additional layers of potential leakers because of the involvement of the Iraqi Interim Government and US personnel in Iraq. In 2006, those players are not present. The second story seems to explicitly state that the source is “European diplomats”. I do not think that it is a tremendous leap to assume that both stories probably originated from the same source. Basically, the potential sources common to both stories are either IAEA personnel/”European diplomats” or US government employees in Vienna going up the chain back to Washington. In both cases you have the NYT getting a leak within days of the IAEA learning the information or the IAEA transmitting the information to the US government.

I officially distance myself from this kind of thing. Just thought you folks would enjoy it :)

Feel free to remind me of this if I ever go off on a rant about left-wing conspiracy mongers.

O. My. God.

Jebus Christ on a cracker. What a bunch of mental midgets in this administration. Sure the invite list for Cheney's energy meetings is top secret - but a copy of "Building Nukes for Dummies"? Heck why not put it on the internet.

Yep the grown-ups are certainly in charge.

OCSteve:

Thanks for the equal time snark -- may I some day be as big and reciprocate.

With regard to Hoekstra's claim of no prior notice by the IAEA, the NY Times article stated:

Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked” at the public disclosures.

Early this morning, a spokesman for Gregory L. Schulte, the American ambassador, denied that anyone from the agency had approached Mr. Schulte about the Web site.

So its apparently disputed. Frankly, I doubt that the bureaucratic IAEA used press releases to make its point.

This is the second time this has happened, according to the article. Earlier, UN arms control officials had asked that documents on how to make tabun and sarin be taken down from the web site.

Hoekstra was a major proponent of this nonsensical scheme, so he has the big axe to grind concerning the embarassment caused by stupidly posting sensitive documents on the web. The whole schtick -- "we've been victimized by the devious timing of exposure of our stupidity" -- is just another old trick for dodging responsibility.

O. My. God.

History repeating?

O. My. God.

sounds like another pastor's been sampling Sudafed's Satanic Offspring

You know, I have no idea if the IAEA approached the ambassador before going public or not. Maybe they didn't, and just thought this would be a great opportunity to embarrass the US. If so, they're jerks.

All of that to the side:

How, in any conceivable universe, is it a good idea to put 48,000 boxes of potentially sensitive information seized from any enemy government during a time of war on a public website, for the express purpose of letting the public paw through it to look for evidence of nuclear and biological weapons programs?

Note that this is specifically before the material has been thoroughly vetted by US intelligence, because *the point of the exercise* is to do an end run around the intelligence agencies.

Hoekstra distrusts US intelligence agencies because he believes they are deliberately trying to thwart Bush's foreign policy. So, his bright idea was to put the raw information in the public domain.

Hoekstra is not a knucklehead blogger. He is the Chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence. His idea of overseeing the process by which sensitive intelligence is examined and evaluated is to take that intelligence in its raw form and put it on a public website where an "Army of Davids" can pore over it, because that will be a useful corrective to the fifth column types in the NSA and the CIA.

The result is what we see today.

This is of a piece with AEI interns telling climatologists what they can and can't publish or talk about. It's of a piece with CBO reports being marked up or suppressed by political actors who have no professional expertise in budgeting or economics. It's of a piece with the CPA being populated with 20-something brats from the Heritage Foundation. It is the total abandonment of the proper exercise of government function and responsibility in the name of partisan gamesmanship.

These people are beyond clueless. They have to go.

Thanks -

Another small point in connection with the right wing blabbing about the "timing" of this disclosure. Per the NY Times article, the nuclear sensitive documents were first posted in September, 2006. Note also that Hoekstra claimed that there was allegedly a screening system in place to vet doucments before posting. Riiiight.

Another small point in connection with the right wing blabbing about the "timing" of this disclosure. Per the NY Times article, the nuclear sensitive documents were first posted in September, 2006. Note also that Hoekstra claimed that there was allegedly a screening system in place to vet doucments before posting. Riiiight.

I think what we've run into is the US version of something I saw quite often in Japan: even though people will admit that yes, indeed, there is a world out beyond the country's borders, their gut reaction is that the world stops at a particular point. I can't remember the number of times I'd hear some Japanese politician say something idiotic (in Japanese), such that Japan historically had claims to Taiwan, and then get all kerflummuxed when someone outside Japan (China, Korea, etc.) went ballistic. It was sort of "well, yeah, but I was saying this for our domestic audience and you weren't supposed to notice it."

I think that Hoekstra sincerely believes the internet stops at the borders of the US. He's certainly dumb enough in other scientific matters.

Richard Pearle, Kenneth Adelman, David Frum: all loser defeatists.

How, in any conceivable universe, is it a good idea to put 48,000 boxes of potentially sensitive information seized from any enemy government during a time of war on a public website, for the express purpose of letting the public paw through it to look for evidence of nuclear and biological weapons programs?

Well that's an easy one.

1) Hussein's Iraq was not a threat to anyone because the international community working with the UN and the US had him trapped in a box.

2) Hussein's desire and pursuit of WMD and relationships with terrorists was a lie perpetrated by the Bush/Cheney cabal.

3) Iraq had no interest in resuming its WMD program and maintained no programs that would help them to quickly do this once sanctions were dropped.

4) Iraq had no ties with terrorists and would never make any attempts at establishing contacts with terrorists.

5) Joe Wilson was right that Iraq had never tried to get Yellowcake.

6) Hussein completely opened up Iraq to UN inspections and they found no sign of WMD.


Given those obvious facts why would we think those doucments said anything significant?

A quick question, is this from Taranto at WSJ intended to be satire?
Sorry to post it all, but it's short:

Pinch Us, We Must Be Dreaming

The New York Times reports that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had a nuclear weapons program after all:

Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to "leverage the Internet" to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq's secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. . . .

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had 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."

Our argument for liberating Iraq did not rest heavily on the question of weapons of mass destruction, but if yours did, you can now claim vindication. (Let's hope you didn't change your mind!)

What's even more astounding about this is that the Times is encouraging the removal from public view of material that might threaten American national security. How uncharacteristically responsible. Usually the paper itself publishes such material, heedless of the consequences. Is someone at the Times on vacation or something?

I read it a couple times, and submit it to the wise commenters here for parsing with the obwi snarkometer...seems like he's got it covered both ways, real or joke, but that the gullible may take it literally.

I think that Hoekstra sincerely believes the internet stops at the borders of the US

a lot of GOP die-hards apparently feel the same way. they're overjoyed that these document prove that Bush was right to invade - that Saddam's people knew all this super-secret, wicked-dangerous stuff. that's what all the wingnuts are saying (nay, screaming) .

and yet, publishing these docs on the web ? *chirp*chirp*chirp*

i actually had one guy at QandO tell me that these were on the web is OK, because he's not worried if people like me can see those things, it's only a problem when people like OBL have them... umm ?

if these documents represent the part of the nuke equation that isn't graduate-level physics, then even if Bush was right to invade, they just did exactly the worst thing possible: they gave that part of the equation to everyone with an internet connection. on the other hand, if these documents aren't the super-secret key to a nuke, then it proves nothing about whether we were right to invade. so, are they the key, or not?

and clearly, the situation on the ground when we got there (and when the inspectors were there, before that) says Iraq's nuclear program wasn't worth invading over.

it's such a ridiculous bunch of nonsense these clowns are all fired-up over.

Oops, there should be another indented blockquote from "Last March..." -> "little as a year away" where he quotes the NYT article. Back to the lurk.

i actually had one guy at QandO tell me that these were on the web is OK, because he's not worried if people like me can see those things, it's only a problem when people like OBL have them... umm ?

I noticed that, I had considered posting a comment but instead decided that banging my head against the wall would have been more productive and less aggravating.

By the way, I spoke about a half hour ago with the challenger in the race for MI-02. Talked about 20- 25 minutes. Short story, no party involvement the whole campaign, two staffer/volunteers, total spent about 20k on his side in the race, plus maybe some debt on his part. Earnest guy, into the environment, used to play drums in a punk band, absolutely a written off race from day one.

It's a shame because this is the sort of hail mary luck that could have paid off with better timing.

I had considered posting a comment

it's a good thing you didn't - you would've been met with a barrage of four-letter words and orders to "SHUT UP!"

but, of course they're probably all uncivil heathen lefties dropping the f-bomb and invective, while hiding themselves behind GOP talking points - right bril ?

granted hail mary luck is bad luck when it puts nuclear secrets on the web, meant to say electorally speaking of course. I'll just shut up now.

Speaking of incompetence, I'm thinking the bright idea of scheduling Saddam Hussein's sentencing for right before the election might not work out so well after all for the Republicans (I'm sorry, I don't believe it was a coincidence). The best possible outcome for the GOP would be a death sentence and a miraculous lack of increase in violence above the shockingly high background level, but that's only going to give people what they've been expecting all along. Any other outcome will be bad for the electoral prospects of the pro-war party (and of course much worse for the Iraqi people).

How, in any conceivable universe, is it a good idea to put 48,000 boxes of potentially sensitive information seized from any enemy government during a time of war on a public website, for the express purpose of letting the public paw through it to look for evidence of nuclear and biological weapons programs?

Potentially is the key word. As the day goes on the sensitivity is being questioned. I think we should revisit in a few days.

I actually thought it was a pretty good idea at the time. It was obvious the government was not going to do it in a timely manner. I am all for open-source, and this is the type of thing the Internet and blogs are great at. So yes, let an “army” of amateurs with the interest and the time translate the docs. If they find anything of interest, then experts can validate it. If not, the public interest is served and we can all be sure there is no “there” there.

So conceptually, I thought it was a great idea, a cutting edge idea even. Obviously I expected some tight safeguards to be in place. Silly me.

I think any story like this needs a few days to shake out. We all tend to jump to the conclusion of our choice on breaking news.

OT:

Hilzoy – As I have mentioned, I plan to vote for Steele. He is neck and neck with Cardin today, well within the margin of error. He received some important endorsements the last few days – I am ready to call an upset, which would not only be historic for MD, but could easily keep the Senate in Republican hands.

So…

If you are willing to take the time to try to convince me why I should not vote for Steele, I promise to give it my utmost consideration. I hope you know by now that you have my total respect, even when I do not agree with you. I promise to read carefully and consider carefully anything you say.

I would like to focus on Steele the MD guy and not Steele the best buddy of GWB. I would like to do it in the context of MD, and Cardin/Steele.

I am willingly to do it privately via email or in a thread here with all chiming in. It would pretty much have to be this weekend, I can’t commit to Monday. Polls open here at 7 on Tuesday.

There is a possibility of me changing my mind (seriously), what do you say?

bril:

Surprise! Turns out the documents tend to prove most aspects of your points 1 to 6, and those documents would not create a disclosure problem.

However, you left off no. 7, which is why the unvetted document dump was a bad idea:

7. Prior to 1991, Saddam had a past history of chemical weapon manufacture and use, and had undertaken efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Posting detailed, sensitive and technically useful information (in Arabic) on the manufacture of chemical and nuclear weapons is not a good idea, and that information could be expected to be found in the pre-1991 documents that were posted.

Here is an example of one of those documents per the NYT article linked above:

On Sept. 20, the site posted a much larger document, “Summary of technical achievements of Iraq’s former nuclear program.” It runs to 51 pages, 18 focusing on the development of Iraq’s bomb design. Topics included physical theory, the atomic core and high-explosive experiments

Re the Taranto piece brought to us by Orwell S.:

Pinch Us, We Must Be Dreaming

The New York Times reports that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had a nuclear weapons program after all:

For starters, can we file this as exhibit one under the ranker forms of intellectual dishonesty?

If you are willing to take the time to try to convince me why I should not vote for Steele

how about: the 2000-2006 rubber-stamp Congress ? you haven't had enough yet ? you want more ?

OrwellS, thanks for the info about Hoekstra's challenger.

This is the kind of thing that a Clean Elections setup could help with; candidates would have enough of a floor to take advantage of sudden opportunities like this (though this would be too late for any campaign except one almost tied).

I don't think "intellectual dishonesty" covers it. If all they were doing was deliberately misreading the facts in order to support an ordinary scam - predatory lending, say, or shares in worthless stock - then "intellectual dishonesty" would be a good description.

But this isn't about ordinary scams. This is about a war that has killed or maimed many hundreds of thousands of people, and about information on weapons technology revealed out of sheer indifferent fecklessness.

It needs something stronger than "intellectual dishonesty."

OCSteve,
I'm right with you in that we all tend to jump to the conclusion of our choice on breaking news.

The thing I thought was a bit wacky about this programme was that any sensitive stuff would surely have to be weeded out before in went on the web. But finding the sensitive stuff was ostensibly the point of putting it out there.

What I initially thought was that the whole thing was just a way of letting the army of davids have something to chew on that had already been looked at by the intelligence guys.

Stuff that was not new or sensitive in any genuine sense, but usefull to have out there because it was raw data that folk could look at without having any real sense of what it was they were looking at.

My thinking, biased from a kiwi liberal viewpoint, was this was a place that the admin could release genuine documents, (that the professionals had seen and caveated or downplayed for whatever reason), and get them out there without the caveats.

Hopefully a david from powerline or some such place would get an AHA! moment, and a non zero number of people would have their faith in "Saddam AND ( wmd OR alqaeda)" bolstered.

So that's what I, mistakenly, thought the programme was about, and I no doubt qualify for your 2.43 comment about lefty conspiracy mongers, (though in my defense I submit that I have never actually tried to push this theory. I theorise sometimes, on the weekends and in private. I don't monger).

I think the whole idea of open source analysis of this type of stuff is fatally flawed. Competent and serious black hats are going to find the meaty stuff at least as fast as the white hats, especially if they are reading it in their native language.

At the very least either the documents have to be closely vetted or the access to the site restricted with some pretty serious identity checks.

I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there that can help with looking at this stuff, but if they want to help they shouldn't mind filling out a few forms before we let them look at the data, right?

bugger. I even pre-viewed
That should have been " ...before it went on the web"

Given those obvious facts why would we think those doucments said anything significant?

and:

I actually thought it was a pretty good idea at the time.

The documents include some dating from days when we know, for a fact, Hussein had active weapons programs. As we have seen, not a good idea to put that stuff online. A fifth grader could figure that out.

In 48,000 boxes of raw material, it's not unlikely that there would be other kinds of information we would not like in the public domain.

What did Hussein know about our intelligence or military capabilities?

How did he know it? What were his sources and methods?

Did he have contacts with other governments we would prefer not to embarrass?

Were there backchannel communications between Hussein and the US that we would prefer to keep under wraps? Through what intermediaries were those communications carried out?

Did he have contacts with other American individuals or American enterprises that we would prefer not be disclosed publicly?

Not good stuff to put on the internets. I hope you agree.

If I had a couple of hours free, I could probably think of about 1,000 more reasons that it is an astoundingly stupid idea to put this material in a raw, unvetted form online.

Hoekstra wanted to stick it to the intelligence community. He's a guy who's supposed to be providing oversight for them, not engaging in stupid public pissing matches with them. His clever plan came back to bite him in the butt, along with the rest of us.

He's an irresponsible, posturing bonehead. Time for him to go.

I am all for open-source, and this is the type of thing the Internet and blogs are great at.

Well, I would say the evidence is against you at this point. Wouldn't you?

By the way, I spoke about a half hour ago with the challenger in the race for MI-02. Talked about 20- 25 minutes. Short story, no party involvement the whole campaign, two staffer/volunteers, total spent about 20k on his side in the race, plus maybe some debt on his part.

You can tell from his website that the guy is doing this out of the back of his station wagon. I'm gonna send him some money, just because he deserves it.

Thank you -

Russell,

I guess I just don't get it. Hussein really wasn't a big threat. Bush and Cheney only hyped it so they could get revenge for Hussein's alleged attempt at assassinating Bush's Daddy.

Why would we care what kind of documents he may or may not have if it was all made up?

"What did Hussein know about our intelligence or military capabilities?"

Our intelligence communities was wrong on everything. We really didn't have any capabilities to worry about.

"Did he have contacts with other governments we would prefer not to embarrass? "

What kind of contacts could be a problem? Hussein was following the mandates of the UN before the US illegally attacked him.

OCS, I have two words for you: Mitch McConnell. If you support him for majority leader, Steele is your man. How about two more: Trent Lott. They'll have identical voting records in the Senate.

I'm not saying he's just like them, or is their friend. But, he will have to support them, come hell or high water, on every important issue.

Steele will vote with his caucus to limit investigation into spending on the war.

You say that your vote is in play -- on what issue do you break from the Administration? Why would you expect Steele to vote against his caucus on that issue?

OCS, I have two words for you: Mitch McConnell. If you support him for majority leader, Steele is your man. How about two more: Trent Lott. They'll have identical voting records in the Senate.

I'm not saying he's just like them, or is their friend. But, he will have to support them, come hell or high water, on every important issue.

Steele will vote with his caucus to limit investigation into spending on the war.

You say that your vote is in play -- on what issue do you break from the Administration? Why would you expect Steele to vote against his caucus on that issue?

OCSteve: Well, since you asked:

Steele is not a dreadful candidate. That said, I think there are several good reasons to vote against him (especially since Cardin is a liberal person; the rap against him seems to be that he's a boring policy wonk, which as far as I'm concerned is fine. BSG can entertain me; politicians should be policy wonks.)

Reason 1: as cleek said above, probably the most important thing is to change party control of Congress. The Democrats will probably be unable to do anything serious while Bush is in office with veto power. If they make significant gains this time, they will probably face a bunch of serious challenges to their weaker candidates in the House in 2008 (big waves tend to wash in a few people who would never have succeeded normally), and if they screw up, they will lose power again.

What they will be able to do is hold hearings. I don't think they will go the witch hunt route; they'll be more likely to do things like investigations into Iraq reconstruction funds and the like. That will be a very, very good thing: for six years now, the GOP (Congress and administration) has had the power to spend money essentially without any oversight, and getting some has to be good.

Reason 2: Mitch McConnell. McConnell is, by all accounts, going to succeed Bill Frist as GOP leader in the Senate. If the Republicans have a majority in the Senate, he will have the power to set the agenda. Read about him here and here (more background from his hometown paper here), and decide for yourself whether you think that's such a great idea. (My condensed version: money money money lobbyists lobbyists lobbyists; and oh did I mention that unlike Frist he is actually good at playing hardball, which would be bad even if his main goal didn't seem to be money money money.)

Reason 3: But what about Steele himself, you ask? Well: I think that one of the most important questions that will face the next Congress is what to do about the deficit. Steele's approach seems to be: I am very concerned about the deficit, so I will cut spending, but I will also make all Bush's tax cuts permanent.

The problem is, it's almost impossible to balance the budget by spending cuts alone. Spending figures for FY2004 are here (see table F-7, in particular); it shows that discretionary spending in FY 2004 was $895 billion, of which $454 billion was defense. So there's maybe $450 billion, give or take, to play with. The deficit in FY2004 was $412.1 billion (same link, table F-1.) So to eliminate the deficit through spending cuts in that year, you'd have to eliminate almost all discretionary spending. Goodbye hurricane warnings, passport offices, agricultural subsidies (good riddance), homeland security spending, immigration enforcement (goodbye to the entire border patrol!), Department of Justice, FBI, Homeland Security, highway maintenance funds, national parks staff, education spending, medical research support, etc., etc., etc.

For that reason, I think it's really disingenuous for Steele to say that he's for exercising fiscal discipline, but also for making the Bush tax cuts permanent. To raise revenues, you have to repeal at least some of them. But he doesn't want to repeal any of them, not even the elimination of the estate tax, which ought to be as no-brainer. And getting the deficit under control is really, really important.

(About the question whether tax cuts make revenues go up: a good summary is here, and an analysis of the long-term costs of extending the President's tax cuts is here. Both are from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. It's a liberal group, but they are very, very solid; I've always found their analyses to be really good, and their figures to be accurate. Some groups with a political slant might make stuff up, or shade it in misleading ways; in my experience, they do not. If you're into that sort of thing, it's worth following their sources, which are generally government documents with all sorts of interesting information.

-- Anyways, those are the basics. Here's a challenge for anyone else who lives in or knows about Maryland:

I am seriously considering voting for Erlich (R) for governor, on the grounds that he's not a bad governor, and the difference between him and O'Malley would not be the difference between a dreadful governor and a good one; but the difference between O'Malley and his replacement as mayor of Baltimore, Sheila Dixon, would be immense. If anyone wants to dissuade me, now's your chance.

I see that CharleyCarp and I cross-posted, and that he made a bunch of the same points much more concisely ;)

Charley -- do you want to take a stab at convincing me to vote for o'Malley? As I said, I already think he's the better candidate; I'm concerned about Baltimore. I think Maryland can take a non-optimal governor a lot better than Baltimore can take a non-optimal mayor, and while Erlich is non-optimal but not downright bad, Sheila Dixon is downright bad.

Hilzoy – damn, you are good. I have to sleep on it before I respond and make a fool of myself. I may (probably will) anyway…

I asked for it, didn’t I? OK – I honestly want to seriously consider my vote, and I have to research a couple of your points. Back to you tomorrow. On this thread, unless I see a new one titled, “In which I smack around OCSteve.”

:)

You are good. Have I mentioned that?

You people need to stop posting from the future like that. It's confusing.

Competely OT: BGS, miniseries, 1st time, tonight. wow. damn. amazing. i hope Mrs Cleek likes it when i force her to watch all 3 hours, non-stop, when she gets back Sunday night - who cares how tired she is. and then, 2 seasons to watch before i can venture into the BGS threads - so Andrew, you can take your time on that one ! ;)

hurry back on the rest.

s/BGS/BSG/g

blame the chianti

Dammit. It asked me to prove I'm human, and then double posted.

typo: in the first para., I wrote: "Cardin is a liberal person". That was meant to be something like: a decent person (or candidate), but it got all mixed up with the remnants of an earlier version, which had said something like: not the kind of liberal who should make a conservative nervous (since he's not firebreathing but wonky.) How it came out that way, I don't know; I never can proofread comments.

"You can tell from his website that the guy is doing this out of the back of his station wagon. I'm gonna send him some money, just because he deserves it."

Yeah, I can't offer him anything cash wise, but am gonna try to mock up a sample radio ad or two for him by tomorrow, hitting on Hoekstra dropping the ball.

Interestingly, when I spoke to the fella, he said the main sort of ads Hoekstra was running were against the liberal media. WTF?

OCSteve - I don't know anything good or bad about Steele or his competitor, but I just wanted to say kudos for offering folks the chance to change your mind.

Personally, I don't care whether someone is liberal or conservative. What I respect is the willingness to look at the facts first, then make a decision. Too many of us try to fit the facts to whatever our ideology is, which just doesn't work out too well in the long run.

Always one to disappoint, here's the mock up ad I threw together for Kotos. It''s damn hard to get all the relevant background for this scandal into one 30 second radio sound bite, and this attempt is too full of info, but at least it has a decent punch.

Hil, I don't know Baltimore politics well enough to address your direct concern.

Ehrlich's vetoes, his commissars and their meddling in various agencies, and his obsession with slot machines are sufficient reason for me to vote for an opponent.

On the other side, O'Malley seems like a reasonable and practical guy -- our legislative leadership is no rubber stamp, and he and they will have to make compromises, but they'll get along better, and get some things done.

Anthony Brown seems to be the right guy for the second job. I certainly support electing Iraq war veterans, who are Democrats, to keep our party from making actual or perceived mistakes on both security and cultural fronts. I have no idea why Wayne Curry and the others ignored him so pointedly the other day.

CharleyC - any thoughts RE: this:

The Central Intelligence Agency has told a federal court that Qaeda suspects should not be permitted to describe publicly the "alternative interrogation methods" used in secret C.I.A. prisons overseas.

Though I guess there might not be much to say.

This is just tragic.

WaPo has more details on our gov't working to keep torture details secret.

Is it really that difficult to find and run background checks on translators?

Steve, try Googling "Arabic translators fired for an answer.

OCSteve may vote for the Democrat in a race and Hilzoy may vote for a Republican in a race.

Next thing you know I'll be over at Red State exchanging recipes with Moe Lane and receiving massages from Erick.

This election may end with a musical number.

"The Central Intelligence Agency has told a federal court that Qaeda suspects should not be permitted to describe publicly the "alternative interrogation methods" used in secret C.I.A. prisons overseas."

Implicit in this is the presumption that none of these individuals will ever be found not guilty of the crimes of which they are charged. I realize that the presumption of guilt is part and parcel of the mindset of a torturer, but this seems to go beyond that; it suggests to me that the CIA is confident that the mlitary tribunals will be rigged.

This election may end with a musical number.

Springtime for Hitler?

I was thinking more in terms of "Happy Talk", or "Shipoopi", with a rousing followup rendition of "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead" as we all fall out into the streets and crowd into the taxi to "Love Shack."

By the way, my previous comment is barely disguised admiration, And if Erick at Red State ever gives me a massage, I hope he fails the lie-detector test.

One must think of the children.

Alright, now, that's enough thinking about the pages, uh, I mean, children.

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