Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Document Ties Martha Stewart to Saddam, 9/11

A young child's palpable, infectious excitement over the imminent arrival of St. Nick on Christmas Eve is touching and charming; an adult who believes in the existence of Santa Claus is sad and not a little bit scary.

The same is true today for those mythical Iraqi WMD's: back in 2003, I and pretty much everyone else in America believed the weapons were there, because George Bush and Colin Powell and everyone else said so. Now, having occupied Iraq for three years, during which two separate reports by Bush appointees concurred that the illicit programs ended in 1998 and our soldiers and inspectors failed to find anything at all, it's only the sad and scary Republicans who insist, all evidence to the contrary, that the weapons and ties to Al Qaeda were real.

We may not have found any banned weapons in Iraq, but we did find some documents. Thousands and thousands -- perhaps millions -- of them. Forty-eight thousand boxes worth. The government is now posting them on the internet in PDF format at the request of Congressional Republicans like Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Pat Roberts of Kansas, with the idea that the American public might be able to find the links that our unreliable behemoth of a bureaucratic government (staffed by Bush appointees, one must point out) has been unable to uncover.

It's not a completely loony idea.

After all, it was the blogosphere that quickly and accurately blew apart Dan Rather's badly forged Bush National Guard records, and I don't think there's a liberal out there who wouldn't argue in favor of a little bit more government transparency. So no, not completely loony at all. Just mostly loony.

"If anyone in the intelligence community thought there was valid information in those documents that supported either of those questions -- WMD or Al Qaeda -- they would have shouted them from the rooftops," a Bush administration official told The New York Times.

Yes, documents have been found indicating weapons possession and programs and Al Qaeda links; but John Negroponte, the Bush-appointed Director of National Intelligence has posted the documents along with an official disclaimer: the government can't vouch for their authenticity. Indeed, intelligence officials told the Times that the papers "include hearsay, disinformation and forgery."

Even intelligence professionals can get things wrong: remember the document alleging Saddam's attempt to purchase uranium from Niger that had been signed by an official who hadn't been in power for ten years at the date of the letter? Now, according to Michael Scheuer, formerly of the CIA, anyone "with a smattering of Arabic" can access the documents and draw "all kinds of crazy conclusions."

To test that assertion, I looked at a couple of the documents myself. Now, my Arabic isn't perfect, but something in section 1075 on page 21 of document 2RAD-2004-600984, innocuously titled "Excerpt from a military training manual," caught my eye.

Again, I'm no fluent speaker of Arabic or any kind of intelligence expert, but this document clearly appears to indicate some kind of "Oil for Sheets" program in which Martha Stewart provided Saddam Hussein with high-quality fabrics that he in turn traded with Al Qaeda operatives in exchange for...well, I can't make that word out, but never mind...and those sheets were then tailored and sold in the black markets of Afghanistan as burqhas. I hope Martha liked prison, because if I'm right, she's going back. But this time, she might be having cell decorating contests at Gitmo.

Seriously, I doubt there is anything in these documents of any use at all. After three years in Iraq, if we haven't found anything there's nothing to find. Unreliable, unsourced, questionable documents aren't going to change that.

If the Republicans want to post some useful documents on the web for Americans to scour over in an effort to uncover long-hidden truths, maybe they could post the notes from Cheney's energy task force meetings.


Sandouri Dean Bey said...

i'm going to be the first to post a comment on this very disturbing bit of news.

back when m.s. first got indicted for obstruction of justice, i felt that if they had only probed a bit deeper, they would have found more, and it looks like they finally have!

unless, of course, your difficulties with arabic caused you to translate as "oil for sheets" what really said "oil for shi'ites"... i'm just sayin...

seriously, very funny post. i think your humor is underappreciated :)

The Oracle said...

This is without a doubt the greatest post I have ever read. Bravo!

Robert Bayn said...

Maybe the Bush Administration can stretch the truth on these documents like they did the intelligence to go into Iraq, seems logical to me.


I always thought Martha was a terrorist, now this proves it, OFF WITH HER HEAD!

Andy said...

Whoa whoa whoa, Robert, this is a liberal blog. There will be no talk of capital punishment here.

Robert Bayn said...

Well i'm one of them liberals that beleive in capital punishment in cases where it benefits people, in this case this benefits me not having a headache.

little-cicero said...

That's it, now you have me angry! You are unpatriotic. You hold nothing dear and have no reverence for that which provides you with prosperity and happiness. (I'm referring of course to your refusal to accept the existance of Santa Clause)

The reason I am not arguing with you on this is that it is so unsubstantive it is barely worthy of controversy. First, there has been no solid evidence since the last invasion of Iraq. That means no evidence of fraud and no evidence of weapons- no evidence of anything.

Secondly, let's say we accept that no weapons exist or existed. Then what? What have you accomplished, or what will you accomplish based on this discovery?

Answer: That Bush is a liar (or that our intelligence is unreliable), that we never should have gone to Iraq and that America has perpetrated a blunder of Vietnam War proportions.

The first accomplishment, proving that Bush lied, is inconsequential in the long term, but in the short term is fully political. You bankrupt his political capital.

The second accomplishment, proving that we should not have gone into Iraq, is also inconsequential with the exception of damaging our troops' morale.

The third accomplishment is very consequential. By proving that we blundered, as was the effect of Vietnam, we weaken our global authority and moral standing. When the United States fails to retain it's position as World Police, you leave that position open to such nations as China, and surely you comprehend the consequence of such a development.

So tell me...what else do we accomplish?

kr pdx said...

um, I thought truth was generally considered its own virtue?

Andy said...

Oh, Little Cicero, you are too much fun, sometimes.

The first accomplishment, proving that Bush lied, is inconsequential in the long term, but in the short term is fully political. You bankrupt his political capital.


Inconsequential in the long term? Hmm, not if I have my way. In the long term, Americans will be more responsibly skeptical of the government (regardless of which party is in power) and will take seriously its duty to hold its elected representatives responsible for their actions. The decision to go to war and put the lives of young Americans and people of foreign nations on the line is the most serious one a President can make. Hopefully the "doctrine" of pre-emptive war is DEAD. (Pope John Paul II said it was a sin.)

Political capital, LOLOLOLOLOL. Umm, this is a phrase invented by George Bush to define the "mandate" he claimed to have won with 2% of the vote in 2004. He beat one of the most terrible campaigners in history by a paltry 2% and called it a validation of his policies. If the election were held today, George Bush couldn't beat Tinky-Winky.

No, I think George has bankrupted his so-called "political capital" all on his own, thank you.

The troops' morale? I'm supposed to put on a happy face for them to support them in a mission that was flawed from the beginning? No way. Supporting the troops means only putting their lives on the line in emergencies, not for some geopolitical experiment in husbanding democracy around the world. They don't need waving flags, they need accountability. They need an administration that isn't also slashing veterans' benefits. I believe anyone who volunteers to risk their life for their country should never, ever, ever have to worry about medical care or retirement.

And as I've already indicated on your blog, I don't believe the U.S. *should* function as "The World Police." The responsibility for global peacekeeping should belong to an international authority: namely, the UN. It's undemocratic for the United States to go around ordering countries to do our bidding using the threat of military violence as motivation.

Political capital. Pffft.

latour said...

So tell me...what else do we accomplish?

We find the truth.

The second accomplishment, proving that we should not have gone into Iraq, is also inconsequential with the exception of damaging our troops' morale.

So you would rather lie to the troops and the public? Lie to troops to support the troops! (Hmmm...sounds like a Republican campaign slogan for 2008!)

By proving that we blundered, as was the effect of Vietnam, we weaken our global authority and moral standing

Look, I think I've already proven on your blog that you have no moral standing, because the US commits state terrorism around the world and overthrows democratic governments at will. The US supported overthrow of Aristide and the oppression of the Fanmi Lavalas in Haiti, for example. The solution is not to lie to improve your moral standing, it is to stop committing immoral acts.

Time said...

One consequence of lying and deception on the part of our President, is the death of our young people.

little-cicero said...

You know what? I might be coming around on this one. I'll write my considerations on the subject tommorrow at my blog.

little-cicero said...

April Fools!

little-cicero said...

You've got me on one thing: we should be more responsible and skeptical of government in the future, but as far as the here and now, I'm not convinced. When Congress gives the President carte blanc, it is not the President's fault, it is their fault (and don't tell me that my "idiotic" president "tricked" the US Congress).

It is fine to say that we should not have gone into Iraq, but you can't make future decisions based on your disagreement with past initiatives. What I want to know is this:

Let's pretend that we have no history in Iraq's current status. A blackhole mysteriously supplanted this war with ourselves in command, and since that point 2-3 thousand troops have died in this struggle. There is no GW Bush, no Rumsfeld, just you in charge. What do you do?

Andy said...

When Congress gives the President carte blanc, it is not the President's fault, it is their fault

A-FUCKING-MEN. Not going to get an argument from me on THAT. Well, except to point out, mon ami, that the phrase is "carte blanche," not "blanc." But that's only because I'm a snobby Northeastern Liberal who took three years of college French.

I like your "what if."

You might be surprised at my answer.

So the supposition is that we are where we are, just that suddenly I'm in charge, not Bush?

If that were the case, then honestly, I would make exactly the same argument he is making. (Gasp.) I would go before the international community and say, "Look folks, the Iraqi people, the Middle East, and the world at large have a major stake in the successful outcome of this Iraqi venture. We did not go to war to replace one cruel, arrogant dictator with a sectarian ally to Iran." The difference is that, having not made all the idiotic mistakes that Bush et al have made, and being able to admit that Saddam had no Al Qaeda ties and that UN sanctions did effectively end the WMD programs, I would have credibility that Bush does not. (And plus, I could address the UN in French, German or Italian...even Japanese, if I brushed up some.) I would renew the push to make this a multilateral effort to secure Iraq, to hunt down the terrorist elements and to help guide the formation of a constitutional democracy without insisting on a puppet government.

I think Bush now knows what he has to do, but he has proven to the international community that it's his way or the highway, and they've permanently abandoned him. They want no part of his arrogant crusade. I would bring a much needed zephyr of reality to the enterprise.