Friday, April 01, 2005

Forgeries and anthrax

Each of the three recent forgeries - the yellowcake (or here) forgery, the forged CIA memo which attempted to pin Joe Wilson as a liar by purporting to show it was his wife who recommended him for the Niger job (notice the pre-Gannongate Washington Post account, which refers to the 'the Talon News questioner' at a time when the identity of the questioner, and his connections to the White House, seemed irrelevant), and the faked cable which attempted to show William Arkin was on Saddam's payroll (oddly reminiscent of the Telegraph's libel of George Galloway) - have similarities:

  1. they are all forgeries; and

  2. they are all in the nature of political 'dirty tricks', intended to fool Americans into believing things useful to the Bush Administration; and

  3. they all involve a degree of sophistication and knowledge that would not be available to the average person; but

  4. they were all done incompetently enough that a real expert was able to instantly see them as forgeries.

Justin Raimondo, referring to Larry DiRita's statement that the Pentagon was not going to investigate the source of the Arkin cable, writes:

". . . listening to DiRita claim he just doesn't know where to look, one doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. He might start with the entire sub rosa apparatus set up by the neoconservative faction, a series of parallel policy and intelligence-gathering networks the existence of which is well-documented and rather extensive. As per their usual practice – remember 'Team B,' which wildly overestimated Soviet economic and military strength? – the neocons set up their own bureaucratic fiefdom inside the government: the Office of Special Plans, the Iraq Survey Group, the army of contract consultants who were assigned to write up 'talking points' for administration officials hard-pressed to reconcile the case for war with the facts.

Taken together, this propaganda operation constituted an open conspiracy to embroil us in a war with Iraq by any means necessary – including a campaign of 'dirty tricks' to discredit and even legally endanger the antiwar movement."


"In reading excerpts of these various forgeries, from the famed Niger uranium papers to the latest smear against Arkin, I always wonder: who writes this stuff? A neocon Jayson Blair, or perhaps some smartass young ideologue acting out his fantasies on the government's dime?"

I still think the yellowcake documents look like productions by dissident Iraqis associated with convicted forger Chalabi - Sharon's office is also a possibility but for the fact that Sharon's office would probably have done a better job - that were then laundered through Italian intelligence and journalism channels to make them look respectable, but all three sets of forgeries bear the odd similarity of being both sophisticated and incompetent at the same time. In other words, all contain information that comes from a superficial familiarity with the relevant 'bureaucratese', but lack the attention to detail that you would expect to see from someone who was familiar with the relevant documents. As Raimondo suggests, the obvious first suspects are the neocons in the Pentagon. Who, after all, is in the Pentagon, with access to precedents and jargon, but not of the Pentagon, with a deep basis in how to use these precedents and jargon? It would be like giving a law student some precedents and asking him to draft a contract. Although he knows the terms and the concepts, the document he produces will be immediately obvious as the work of an amateur to anyone familiar with professionally-drafted contracts. I can just imagine the neocons standing around the water cooler concocting schemes and sending some intern off to cobble together some document to use to attack their enemies. They would all be impressed by the use of the proper jargon, just as they were probably impressed by the yellowcake documents, but would have no way of knowing that the documents would be immediately recognizable as forgeries by an expert. Who else had the motive, means and opportunity, coupled with a goofy incompetence, an extreme if unwarranted amount of self-confidence, and a passing familiarity with Pentagon jargon and documents?

Each of these forgeries also bears an odd similarity with the anthrax attacks. The anthrax attacks, also apparently out of Pentagon labs, combined extreme competence in the delivery and quality of the anthrax itself, coupled with laughable incompetence in the creation of the clumsy letters attempting to frame Islamic terrorists. More importantly, the whole plan was ill-conceived due to the fact that the strain of anthrax spores could, if the FBI had any interest in the matter, be traced to a specific American military lab. Instead of investigating, the FBI spun its wheels going after what was obviously the wrong guy, and have acted in a way to let the real perpetrators go. The FBI has no apparent interest in Gannon and the Wilson-defaming memo Gannon claims to have not seen, no apparent interest in questioning the former Italian intelligence agent who is the only person who might have information on the yellowcake documents, and no apparent interest in determining the lab from which the anthrax attacks originated. The Pentagon has no interest in determining who prepared the Arkin-defaming cable. A suspicious person might even be able to detect a whiff of conspiracy in all this lack of interest.


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