Jeff Emanuel

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.

The staple of the Liberal platform for the past four-plus years has been almost uniform: Bush lied us into a war in Iraq. Saddam never had any weapons of mass destruction, nor was he seeking any; Iraq was not a threat to America’s security in any way, shape, or form.

This report blows that entire argument, and its corresponding mindset, completely out of the water.

One cannot help but to almost feel sorry for the Left’s forced longsuffering at the hands of their own ineptitude. In a last-ditch attempt to discredit the GOP on national security, a viable accusation of failure in that area finally appeared to have been found: that President Bush endangered the nation, and enabled Iran, by publishing Iraqi documents on the internet that divulged how to make and use WMDs. While it probably will not hold up over time, the allegations alone should at least have been sufficient to get the Democrats through Tuesday’s election; after that, developments could have been dealt with as they came.

However, the Left’s biggest problem with accepting this accusation is that it means the complete and utter obliteration of their beloved mantra of the past four years –“Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.”

Perhaps the most damning statement in the Times’ article was the following:

“Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf War. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.” (emphasis added)

The ineptitude of the media when so single-mindedly pursuing a predetermined target is almost staggering. Not only had the article already, in the name of showing the incompetence of the Bush administration (and, by extension in this election season, of the Republican Party as a whole) to maintain America’s national security, admitted that Saddam’s government had been actively pursuing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, but in that one brief paragraph they pulled the rest of the “Bush lied” and “Iraq was no threat” house of cards completely to the ground, with the contention that in 2002 – on the very eve of the Iraq invasion – Saddam was less than one year away from building an atomic bomb. America seems to have made it there just in time.

The contortion of logic necessary to believe both mantras – that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, but that, due to Republican incompetence, publication of Iraqi documents gave Iran the ability to create and employ WMDs of their own – requires an intellect more flexible – and more willing to believe the “inconceivable” – than Vizzini’s (the Sicilian from the Princess Bride who, during the Battle of Wits, was told, “Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.”)

Lost in this single-minded pursuit of a noose with which to hang Republicans on an issue that is one of their greatest strengths – and at this time when strength on it is so desperately needed – is real news, from a different front in the War on Terror: the Western front: the latest development in the August terror case from Britain, in which twenty-five would-be suicide bombers were arrested (thanks in large part to allied surveillance – likely warrantless – of their communications) before they could execute their plan to blow up multiple airliners bound for the United States, was largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Lost in the shuffle – or, rather, the scramble to bounce Republicans from office, and to condemn President Bush yet again – was the fact that further interrogation of the suspects revealed their actual goal, which was not, as had first been thought, to detonate the planes over the Atlantic Ocean.

The terrorists’ ultimate goal, according to Mark Mershon, head of the FBI's New York field office, was to wait until the airliners had reached North America – and then "to blow them up over U.S. cities to maximize casualties."

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, representatives of MI5, the British intelligence service, had briefed the FBI on the liquid-explosives case in recent weeks. “It would make your hair stand up to be in the room to hear that presentation,” said Mershon.

While neither honorable nor respectable, it is not surprising that the mainstream media – New York Times included – has chosen to ignore that story completely. However, at a time when threats to our very lives are so real, it is nothing short of a disgrace that facts (and the warnings they entail) would be swept under the rug, and instead replaced by stories which, whether accurate or not, hope to advance the election-year narrative.

Unfortunately for the Left, this attempt not only fell short, but managed to shoot them squarely in both feet – for, not only does their utter disregard of actual national security-related developments reinforce even further the public’s perception of the Left on that all-important issue (as well, on the side, as reinforcing opinion of the mainstream media’s objectivity), but the motto of the Liberal movement, the mantra which had all but given them reason to live for the past four-plus years – “Bush lied: there were no weapons of mass destruction” – was cast aside and flushed in a mere instant – all in favor of yet another, run-of-the-mill attempt at an election-year hit piece.


Jeff Emanuel

Jeff Emanuel, a Special Operations military veteran, is a Leadership fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia, where he also studies Classics. In addition, he is a contributing editor for conservative web log RedState.com, and is a columnist for the Athens, GA Banner-Herald newspaper.

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