Agent Pax


Speculations about the Iraqi blogger Salam Pax's authenticity have been around for a long time. Recently they've been resurgent, with several hawks advancing the notion that he's actually a Ba'athist disinformation project. This is not merely being offered as one idea at the far edge of possibility; it's being proposed as the most likely scenario. Charles Johnson of the Muslim-baiting site Little Green Footballs, for example, declares that this has been his "privately held belief for quite some time." And Ottawa Citizen columnist David Warren says "we cannot know yet" whether Salam is an agent, but "what we can know, just by reading his blog, is that this Salam is up to no good."

They offer a number of reasons for this thesis, but their case boils down to this: Salam Pax's posts do not reflect our worldview. To reassess our worldview would be a terrible hardship. Therefore, his posts are lies.

If Salam Pax is a Ba'athist agent, then an Iraqi propaganda apparatus not known for its subtlety would have created a character who mixes his criticisms of U.S. policy with even harsher criticisms of Saddam's regime. Furthermore, he would have preceded his political posts with a long period of strictly personal writing, and he would have kept up the act, funded by Lord-knows-who, after Hussein's regime was deposed. Not completely impossible, I suppose. But not the sort of hypothesis that you should declare the most likely, especially if you spend the rest of your time mocking your political foes as a bunch of nutty conspiracy theorists.

Update: In addition to its leaps in logic, Warren's article appears to include some severely dishonest reporting.