Thursday, April 13, 2006


the liberal avenger emailed me a link to the salon article about the bush administration's decision to dump a huge volume of documents on the public (get a free day pass if you're not a salon subscriber)

the documents are here. many were released untranslated, they are still in their original arabic. but even if you know some arabic, a combination of handwriting and bad scans make them extremely difficult to read. that didn't stop right blogistan from waving individual documents in the air and crowing "smoking gun." the crowing triggered arguments, and, occasionally, the righties backing down from their original grandiose claims. even more entertaining was when rightwingers cited documents as showing a saddam-al qaeda connection, when in fact, the documents could be read to suggested just the opposite.

anyway, the salon article points out that many of the documents listed under the heading "Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents" have nothing to do with iraq:
How did these highly suggestive materials end up in the Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents? The site's disclaimer warns that "the US Government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein," but it casts no doubt on their provenance or relevance. Beth Marple, deputy press secretary for ODNI, confirmed to Salon that "all documents in the collections were captured in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom." Presumably, the interlopers, most of which are also available for downloading on a variety of jihadist Web sites, could have been captured from Iraqi intelligence departments charged with tracking jihadist activities on the Internet. Or, U.S. forces could have "captured" them by downloading them from locations inside Iraq.

Strikingly, many of the interlopers share some key characteristics: Their origins trace to al-Qaida or other jihadist groups, they frequently involve unconventional weapons -- and they have nothing at all to do with either Saddam's regime or prewar Iraq. Also striking is their inclusion in an archive purportedly dedicated to captured Iraqi documents specifically from the Saddam regime; U.S. forces surely captured a wealth of other materials in Iraq that have nothing to do with the regime and that are not included in the archive. The fact that the only such relics to worm their way into the Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents focus on al-Qaida, the jihadist fringe and unconventional weapons strongly suggests an attempt to reinforce the Bush administration's prewar claim of ties between a WMD-hungry Saddam and al-Qaida terrorists.
from the get-go the decision to release all these classified documents seemed to be surprisingly out of character for the bush administration. why would the most secretive administration in recent history, the people who still won't tell us who was in the room with them when they came up with their energy policy, release documents captured during a war with only cursory review and no official translation?

the document dump is just another example of how the bush administration isn't really dedicated to secrecy per se. they are perfectly willing to leak or declassify information, even sensitive information, so long as they can use it for their own political gain.

that's the very definition of abuse of power.