NYT's Funny November Surprise

Mary Katharine Ham
|
Posted: Nov 03, 2006 10:08 AM

So, the NYT brought a November surprise today. I guess with circulation plummeting, they figured they better delay the date of their bi-annual attack for maximum effect. The Al-QaQaa dust-up of '04 happened in late October.

But let's take a look at this year's surprise. It sure is a funny one:

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. 

SURPRISE! Saddam was a year from a nuke! Wait, I thought Saddam wasn't a threat.

A senior American intelligence official who deals routinely with atomic issues said the documents showed “where the Iraqis failed and how to get around the failures.” The documents, he added, could perhaps help Iran or other nations making a serious effort to develop nuclear arms, but probably not terrorists or poorly equipped states. The official, who requested anonymity because of his agency’s rules against public comment, called the papers “a road map that helps you get from point A to point B, but only if you already have a car.”

SUPRISE! The info Saddam had could have helped other rogue nations make nukes, too! Wait, I thought Saddam wasn't a threat. Darn you, NYT and your blasted nuance. It's so subtle, it almost makes no sense!

Jim Geraghty puts it this way:

What? Wait a minute. The entire mantra of the war critics has been "no WMDs, no WMDs, no threat, no threat", for the past three years solid. Now we're being told that the Bush administration erred by making public information that could help any nation build an atomic bomb.

Let's go back and clarify: IRAQ HAD NUCLEAR WEAPONS PLANS SO ADVANCED AND DETAILED THAT ANY COUNTRY COULD HAVE USED THEM.

I think the Times editors are counting on this being spun as a "Boy, did Bush screw up" meme; the problem is, to do it, they have to knock down the "there was no threat in Iraq" meme, once and for all. Because obviously, Saddam could have sold this information to anybody, any other state, or any well-funded terrorist group that had publicly pledged to kill millions of Americans and had expressed interest in nuclear arms. You know, like, oh... al-Qaeda.

The New York Times just tore the heart out of the antiwar argument, and they are apparently completely oblivous to it.

Michelle Malkin notes the irony of the Times being suddenly so interested in keeping sensitive security information under wraps.

They can't have it both ways, here. The information in question can't be both innocuous in the hands of a rogue dictator and deadly dangerous on a government website.

Allah:

The left’s and right’s interests in this story are oddly aligned: the more significant the published nuclear documents are, the more serious the error is in having posted them — and the more they bolster Bush’s argument that Saddam was a serious threat to build a bomb. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays tomorrow. 

I haven't watched TV yet today, so I'm not sure what everyone's talking about or what line's being taken, here. Logically, I'd call it a wash or a slight win for Republicans, but in the media, it will probably play as a Bush bungle. Right now, everyone seems pretty excited about the "evangelist I've never heard of had gay sex story," so who knows? Maybe we'll be talking about that all day.

Update: Oh, so apparently I should know who that evangelical guy is because he's pretty big. My bad. I'm gonna lose all my social con cred over here, but I must confess, I don't keep track of those things that well.

Update: Dan Riehl has Google evidence that "evangelical gay sex" beats "nuclear documents on government website." Sounds like a really colorful version of Rock-Paper-Scissors.

Update: Allah has more analysis on the nuke story. My thoughts? This comes nowhere near fitting on a bar napkin. Surprise over. Back to the poll-watching.

Hoekstra's statement:

"With respect to the possibility that documents may have been released that should not have been released, I have always been clear that the Director of National Intelligence should take whatever steps necessary to withhold sensitive documents. In fact, as of today the DNI had withheld 59 percent of the documents that it had reviewed, and has become more risk-averse over time. If the DNI believes that the documents that were released were in the safe 40 percent, imagine what the 60 percent being withheld must contain.

"That said, it is also important to emphasize that the IAEA, contrary to its assertions, never raised any concerns about this material with the United States Government before going to the press. Similarly, the DNI's office has informed me that no agency of the U.S. Government had raised any issues about the potential or actual release of these documents before yesterday. If there were such problems, they would have been better addressed through the appropriate channels rather than the press.