Tuesday, March 28, 2006

In today's New York Times, Scott Shane writes about the Bush administration's decision to dump Saddam-era documents on the Internet, many of them untranslated. I've written off and on about the document dump, most recently in this post.

Unlike some of the commenters here, I don't think the Bushies have planted any freshly forged smoking-gun documents in the dump, just as they didn't plant WMDs in Iraq. (What? Plant evidence? I think, to them, that would be like admitting they were wrong about the war, which they won't do, even to themselves. I think they still think they'll find real smoking guns.) On the other hand, I do think old Chalabi-generated forgeries are in there (as I note in the post linked above); Shane acknowledges as much ("the intelligence official said ... the database included 'a fair amount of forgeries,' sold by Iraqi hustlers or concocted by Iraqis opposed to Mr. Hussein").

Unlike Shane, I don't believe for a minute that the Bushies didn't want the documents released and Congressman Peter Hoekstra hectored them until they gave in -- to me that's as plausible as the notion that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were operating completely independently of the Bush campaign.

I think the document dump is specifically intended to rally the base in an election year.

The Bushies want right-wingers and right-leaners to get a fuzzy notion in their heads that the no-WMD and no-Saddam/Osama-connection stories are the real lies, spread by Democrats and peaceniks and the liberal media. If documents are dumped on the Internet and some Freeper declares that this document or that one is the smoking gun regarding WMDs or an al-Qaeda connection, talk radio and righty blogs and conservative rant sites (CNS News, World Net Daily, Men's News Daily, MichNews, etc., etc.) will pick it up -- and now the untruth is just out there. No Bushie or GOP elected official actually has to say something untrue -- the work of spreading misinformation has been done for the party by volunteers.

And then, at the proverbial backyard barbecue, your right-wing cousin will say, "You don't know what you're talking about. Saddam had all the weapons shipped to Syria. And he and bin Laden were like this." And maybe he won't convert anyone else at the barbecue, but maybe he will make some of them rethink their increasing anger at the administration. And he, at least, will show up to vote Republican in November, because, well, you can't trust Democrats and the liberal media, and the only countervailing force against all those liars is the Republican Party.

No comments: