Monday, June 20, 2005

More Fake Documents?

Documents are used in the press to discredit a national leader. They appear at a critical time during an election, obviously intended to influence the election. But then questions arise. The documents are of doubtful origin and the sources are unknown. Official sources don't deny them or directly confirm them, at least initially. Dan Rather of CBS News? Or even Michael Isikoff and John Barry of Newsweek? No, this time it's Michael Smith of the Times of London and the so-called Downing Street memos.

According to an AP report carried by many media outlets, the Times journalist obtained the documents from an anonymous source, naturally. Then, he says in a effort to protect the source, the documents were re-typed on plain paper and the originals (or copies of the originals) were destroyed. In addition, the documents were re-typed on a manual typewriter. And the re-typed documents as they appear in .pdf format look to be artificially aged by repeated copying.

The blogosphere is abuzz. You can find much more detail with additional links at Captain's Quarters, USS Neverdock, and The Strata-Sphere. Also included are links to .pdf versions of the re-typed documents.

I haven't found much about it in the major press, aside from the AP report. Maybe they'll pick up on it later. However, Michael Getler, the Washington Post's Ombudsman, assured us in his column of June 19, touting the value of the memo (in the singular), that "Its authenticity has not been disputed." Not so fast, Mr. Getler.

I don't know if the memos are fake or otherwise of doubtful origin. It's hard to know, given the penchant of journalists for crediting anonymous sources and then hiding behind their presumed special status when questioned. In any case, I continue to believe that the memos are old news and hardly worth the furor among anti-war activists. We'll see how it plays out.

17 Comments:

Anonymous JadeGold said...

How embarrassing for you, TC.

Tryng to draw a comparison between the Killian memos and Downing Street Memos is next to impossible--especally if one insists on misrepresenting and distortng the facts in both instances.

WRT Killan memos, it has never been established they were "fake." Now, many well-meaning and impartial observers suspect they are "fake," but their authenticity, or inauthenticity, has never been established. Because CBS was sloppy in its failure to conclusively authenticate the provenance of the Kllian memos--that's what got CBS into trouble. Despite the fact contemporaneous accounts by Killian's secretary and others unequivocally assert the content of the memos was accurate. IOW, it is still wrong to frame a guilty man.

TC also blithely asserts a sinister poltical motive to the CBS story. This is unsupported by the facts and has been refuted by an investigation headed by a GOP poohbah.

As an aside, TC takes a shot at Newsweek--ignoring the fact the Newsweek story has been completely vindicated.

WRT the DSM, a completely different set of circumstances is at play. Numerous senior British officials have vouched for their accuracy. Participants in the discussions that comprise the DSM have had every opportunity to discredit, repudiate or disavow the memos; they have declined to do so. Compounding TC's embarrassment, many of the memos' protagonists have elected to justify or defend what is contained in the memos.

Now, I'm certain TC will claim he hasn't really questioned the authenticity of the DSMs, but what he is doing is to shade the truth, misrepresent facts, associate guilt and sinister motive and guide the reader to reach an erroneous--and predetermined--conclusion. That's the definition of deceit.

9:41 AM, June 20, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Jadegold, I always enjoy your eminently chucklable comments. I can assure you I'm not at all embarrassed. You can accuse me of being wrong, if you like, but whether I'm embarrassed is entirely up to me.

The Newsweek report was objectively wrong. It said a report would include certain things, and that was incorrect. Maybe it was small stuff in your view, but it at least contributed to a number of people dying.

I did, in fact, say that I don't know if the memos are fake. Try reading a little more carefully. I do, however, find these developments to be interesting. If you want to blaze away at someone, do it at the authors on the sites I linked to.

10:24 AM, June 20, 2005  
Anonymous JadeGold said...

TC, you are quibbling. You attempt to draw a comparison between the DSM and your versions of the Killian memos and the Newsweek story in an effort to discredit the authenticity of the former.

The Newsweek story was substantively accurate; unless, of course, you are now disputing the Pentagon. As to whether the Newsweek story led to deaths--your opinion is countered by the Chairman of the JCS. Who to believe?

Once more, you're engaging in deflection by tryng to claim the media is aganst your political master.

11:06 AM, June 20, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Jadegold, my "political master" is a tiger-striped cat named Cat. You don't want to make him angry....

11:09 AM, June 20, 2005  
Blogger Robert Wright said...

Matthew Rycroft wrote and distributed memo #1 to David Manning, Geoff Hoon, Jack Straw, Peter Goldsmith, Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, Richard Dearlove, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, and Alastair Campbell. They all have copies filed somewhere, and none of them have called "fake, fraud or forgery."

Blair has been addressed publicly and hasn't suggested they're fake. Wolfowitz name is on one of the memos, he's not calling it fake. The list goes on. The difference in these and Rathergate are all the many well-known names the memos are addressed to or address.

I guess they still could be forgeries, but it doesn't seem too likely. I spent last night vetting all 8 memos from the time frames in which they were written. Me being one of those Republicans driven to the fringe by neoconservatism, I found incredible substance within the memos for many of my grievances. However, I also found many solid rebuttals to those grievances.

I was left without near the anger I expected, and if these memos are a smoking gun, they may be a BB gun, they may be a howitzer, but I'm just an observer at this point.

11:13 AM, June 20, 2005  
Anonymous JadeGold said...

AZ: To a certain extent, the DSM are old news. They really only serve to confirm what many of us suspected from the beginning. We have accounts from Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, Donald Rumsfeld, Bob Woodward and others that indicate the fix was in WRT Iraq.

In essence, the DSM is a fait d'accompli.

Regardless of how you felt about invading Iraq, you should feel outraged that your president lied to you about how this invasion came to be and why it was necessary.

Unless you're TC, of course.

I believe reasonable people understand the American populace wouldn't have stood for a war in Iraq purely on the basis that Saddam was a brutal dictator. Nor would they have approved of committing troops to harm's way as anything but a last and unavoidable option. The DSM confirms you and I were lied to.

11:42 AM, June 20, 2005  
Blogger carla said...

Wow.

I read Tom's post and was all set to unleash...and JadeGold stole alla my thunder.

(sigh)

I feel so cheap and easy now.

4:48 PM, June 20, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Alsozap, you make some good points. Thanks for doing it calmly and without resorting to insults.

I think the most likely reason the people you listed haven't said anything is the policy both governments have of not confirming or denying classified information, even when it's been leaked. I would guess they also don't want to get involved in a pointless public debate. However, Blair and Bush have both stated that the key points are not true, and they said so in public and personally.

I don't think the memos are forgeries in the exact sense that the CBS memos probably were. However, there's certainly enough smoke here to make one wonder how big the fire might be. Supposedly, the memos (or machine copies of them) were obtained from an anonymous source. They were destroyed, eliminating any chance of anyone examining them, which caused the problem CBS ran into with their documents. Before they were destroyed, they were re-typed on a manual typewriter, which is extremely odd. With no originals to compare them to, there's no way to know if anything was changed, added, or left out. The .pdf versions do, indeed, look like they were copied several times before they were scanned. Was that done to "age" them for some reason, or initially to make them look like copies of originals a source may have handed over? Given all this, why wouldn't a reasonable person have questions about the documents?

The governments and intelligence services of every major western nation believed that Iraq had WMD, and they had believed it for a long time, with good reason. This belief was voiced by Blair and Bush, in addition to other heads of state, and their national security officials. As for the U.S., there are plenty of statements on the record about this from Clinton, Bush, and key officers of both administrations and members of both houses of Congress of both parties. All of these people may have been wrong, but they weren't lying.

There were a number of good reasons for taking down the regime of Saddam, and the widely held belief that he had and would use WMD was a very good one.

4:55 AM, June 21, 2005  
Anonymous Jadegold said...

The governments and intelligence services of every major western nation believed that Iraq had WMD, and they had believed it for a long time, with good reason. This belief was voiced by Blair and Bush, in addition to other heads of state, and their national security officials.

Patently false.

In fact, if you read the various DSMs, you'd find the Brits seemed to think evidence of WMD was lacking.

There's a subtle difference TC is trying to exploit on behalf of his political masters. That is, perhaps AWOL George believed Saddam possessed WMD. The fact remains there was no evidence to support such a claim.

And, what's worse, the Brits and this incompetent admin knew there was no evidence.

Once more, this is reflected in the DSM; everybody might have fully believed Saddam was awash in WMD--the problem was they had no evidence to support that claim.

5:00 PM, June 21, 2005  
Anonymous Jadegold said...

A challenge to TC:

You said: The governments and intelligence services of every major western nation believed that Iraq had WMD, and they had believed it for a long time, with good reason.

I'll bet you cannot produce an account of any intelligence--by any Western power--that supports this statement.

The operative phrase is " with good reason."

You'll be able to find dozens of reports stating a belief Saddam had thios or that WMD. But none of these accounts will stand up to scrutiny.

5:05 PM, June 21, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

I'll bet you cannot produce an account of any intelligence--by any Western power--that supports this statement.

Didn't Clinton think that Iraq had WMDs? What about most of our Senate believing it? At least the ones on the Intelligence committees. Kerry believed it. I actually don't recall anyone during that time, who saw the same intelligence Bush did, saying they didn't believe it. Why it's only Bush who is crucified for it escapes me. He did have to have it pass the House and Senate, didn't he? I'd say feel free to correct me, but I'm guessing you guys already do. :) Gotta love the Blogway!

7:04 PM, June 21, 2005  
Anonymous Jadegold said...

Esther: It's a pretty weak argument to say I believe in the Easter Bunny and so do all my kindergarten classmates.

As to crucifying AWOL George, please try and remember he was the one who put our troops into harm's way. Over 1700 dead Americans, over 10,000 wounded and about 500 billion dollars later buys a lot of culpability.

I'd ask that you also remember AWOL George and his handlers didn't say they suspected Iraq had WMDs--they asserted they knew it for certain. Rumsfeld even told us he knew exactly where the WMD was.

I really wish TC would take up my challenge; perhaps we could arrange a wager that goes to charity.

7:31 PM, June 21, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Jadegold, I'm not interested in your challenge or wagers. Just state your opinion, along with any research you may want to share.

I welcome dissenting views here. That's what makes the process interesting. However, you might reflect on the fact that arguing ad hominem and including insults don't add to the quality of your reasoning.

11:34 AM, June 22, 2005  
Anonymous Jadegold said...

Obviously, TC believes asking one to prove his assertions represents an ad hominem attack.

You stated:

The governments and intelligence services of every major western nation believed that Iraq had WMD, and they had believed it for a long time, with good reason.

I challenged that assertion--with the emphasis on "with good reason."

Apparently, you haven't the confidence in your assertion to back it up.

As the DSM notes: ....For the P5 and the majority of the Council to take the view that Iraq was in breach of 687[,] they would need to be convinced that Iraq was in breach of its obligations regarding WMD, and ballistic missiles. Such proof would need to be incontrovertible and of large-scale activity. Current intelligence is insufficiently robust to meet this criterion."

This is very strong evidence that both the US and UK knew they had insufficient, or doubtful, evidence to support a charge Iraq had WMD.

Yet, AWOL George didn't say he suspected Iraq had WMD--he said he knew it did.

By any reasonable standard, that's a lie.

6:04 PM, June 22, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

Bringing up the Easter bunny wasn't the nicest of responses. You can counter an argument without being insulting.

11:37 PM, June 22, 2005  
Anonymous Jadegold said...

Esther: The 'Easter Bunny' analogy was an exceptonally nice way to counter your argument. Frankly, trying to argue you believe something is true because some others also beleve it to be true is a logical fallacy.

7:55 AM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger John Walter said...

"AWOL George didn't say he suspected Iraq had WMD--he said he knew it did...By any reasonable standard, that's a lie."

No, that's not a lie by any reasonable standard. That's a mistake.

And I'm still not wholly convinced he was wrong.

6:32 PM, June 24, 2005  

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