The search for the truth

Posted by lex, on March 28, 2006


Interesting article
 today in the NY Times, dealing with the on-going release of 48,000 boxes of previously classified, pre-war documents – only lightly skimmed by intelligence agencies – from the files of Saddam’s regime. The effort is sponsored by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and is designed to let Glen(n)’s “Army of Davids” go to work doing the heavy lifting of translating them. This is work that the national intelligence agencies – more interested in shooting alligators closer to the canoe than in going over “ancient” history – haven’t the resources to attempt.

“(N)ow, 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.

And who is answering this challenge?

“As an historian, I’m glad to have the material out there,” said John Prados, who has written books on national security, including one that accuses the administration of distorting prewar intelligence. He said the records were likely to shed new light on the Iraqi dictatorship. Some of the documents, also included in a new study by the United States military, already have caused a stir by suggesting that Russian officials passed American war plans to Mr. Hussein’s government as the invasion began.

But Mr. Prados said the document release “can’t be divorced from the political context.

“The administration is under fire for going to war when there was no threat — so the idea here must be to say there was a threat,” he said.

That is already the assertion of a growing crowd of bloggers and translators, almost exclusively on the right. So far they have highlighted documents that refer to a meeting between Osama bin Laden and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Sudan in 1995; a plan to train Arab militants as suicide bombers; and a 1997 document discussing the use of “special ammunition,” chemical weapons, against the Kurds.

These documents – or at least the ones whose provenance can be verified – will, when translated, offer an unprecedented factual insight into the thinking of one of the world’s most odious and dictatorial regimes: You’d think that everyone would be excited about them. After all, the Iraq war, as a part of the broader Global War on Terror, has come to throw its shadow over virtually every element of the country’s international policy, not to mention substantial areas of domestic politics. But not everyone is equally interested, as it turns out.

There are a number of revealing elements here – some of them perhaps intentional: First, the article itself is posted to the Times “politics” section – not in the international news. To complete the framing, an historian is found who appears to “correctly” interpret the effort to translate these documents as being political not just in effect, but also in intent.

Take a moment to wrap your noodle around that: In this framework, discovering the truth of Saddam’s WMD intentions can only serve to satisfy a domestic political constituency. Those who are satisfied with the emergently popular interpretation – that the administration lied us into war – are not the least bit concerned about these documents. Except, perhaps, to cast doubt on them.

This is fascinating: There are people who thought that Bush stole the 2000 election in Florida – despite studies by major newspapers demonstrating that he would have won in any reasonable re-count process – and that he therefore should serve as an “asterisk” president. These same people thought that Bush should, under the circumstances, conduct himself basically as though he wasn’t there. Many of these same people had nothing to but outraged contempt for the red state “sheeple” who re-elected the president by the largest vote margin ever garnered in 2004.

Having now won a majority of people over to their point of view that the war was a mistake through the cry, “Where are the WMDS?!?”, through distortion and through outright deceit, they now wave the banner of sagging popular opinion – which they helped to create – as though they had in fact won some kind of victory.

Try to find out what Saddam and his thugs were actually thinking and doing? No thanks – that might be an admission against interest.

This is the difference between being at war, and being “at war.” In the first case, the people hope we win. In the second, some hope you lose.

 

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Filed under by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, GWOT

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