The New York Times took a break Friday from its usual pastime of making classified information a part of the public record to accuse someone else of doing the same, and, in a final attempt to smear the Bush administration before Tuesday’s midterm election, grabbed the hand of her allies on the Left – and took a giant leap backwards.
The scoop was supposed to be another pre-election “outing” of administration blunders in the War on Terror by the mainstream media (a la the “missing Iraqi weapons” stories which happened to be held until right before the 2004 election). And the story was indeed a big one – but probably not in the way that the newspaper intended.
In recent years, US government established an online archive in an effort to enlist the public’s aid in the translation of, and reduction of data from, the vast store of Iraqi intelligence and governmental documents recovered since the March 2003 invasion According to the Times, this effort led not to an increase in America’s understanding of that country’s supposedly nonexistent WMD programs or terrorist ties, but rather became a potential boon to Iran, who officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency fear may have gained knowledge of how to develop nuclear arms through the addition of Iraq’s published experience with the systems.
The documents in question reportedly contained extremely detailed information “on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs” – in other words, according to experts, “the documents…constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.”
The “thrust of the story,” to quote a former anchor, was that the Bush administration, without a second thought about the possible consequences, had deposited all of this information on the internet for anybody to access who wished to.
Anxious to drive the point home, the article added that the government site, known as the “Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal,” had also made public Iraqi documents “about chemical weapons,” including “information on how to make tabun and sarin, nerve agents that kill by causing respiratory failure.”
Apparently lost to the New York Times in this gushing about how the dangerously incompetent Bush administration made WMD technology available to Iran (thus making America exponentially less safe – although nowhere in the article does it say that Iran has definitively accessed these documents) was the most obvious detail of their story: that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, had the capability for – and was actively seeking – not only chemical and biological weapons, but nuclear weapons, as well.
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