He Ain't Heavy, He's My Islamofascist

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You can read Brian Doherty's post about pro-war bloggers pushing "secret Iraqi documents," have a chuckle, and still wonder: So? Who reads these bloggers, anyway? Isn't the debate over Iraqi's WMD and terror connections pretty much over?

Well, no. Not so long as the #1 cable news channel—with many more devotees than the pro-war blogs—is hyping the same document dumps. The liberal mediencritiken at Media Matters have cached a video from last week's episode of "The Big Story with John Gibson," wherein Fox experts analyze Iraqi docs that "may" suggest that the country's secular dictator was totally tight with Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

The lede sets the tone:

JULIE BANDERAS: Well, documents captured in Iraq may link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda after all, and the Taliban. Fox's Reena Ninan has the story, and for all those naysayers who said, "Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, no way, they didn't know each other before 9-11."

NINAN: Well, the big question, Julie, is, you know, did Saddam Hussein secretly send military operatives to work with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan before September 11th? Well, declassified documents suggest that it's emerged from an exclusive Fox News investigation that thousands of documents—which come from thousands of documents captured in Iraq.

Fox viewers, remember, had the most distorted and wrong knowledge about the Iraq war according to a 2003 survey. The net's ratings may be down, but they're well placed to keep their lead in the disinfo stakes.

(Rare praise for Tucker Carlson: His MSNBC show did a long-overdue smackdown of Fox's "News Alerts" and found the rival network zeroing in on breaking news every 7.5 minutes.)

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  1. Oh no, the ridiculous “Fox News viewers are stupid” poll rears its ugly head again. In case you missed it, the study’s already been debunked at Hit & Run itself.

  2. Democratic Underground is on line two for you, David. They want you back and promise not to be so far to your right in the future.

  3. I thought we already knew that Hussein a) tried to establish ties with bin Laden and was turned down and b) he probably did this because he wanted to keep tabs on al Qaeda

  4. “they’re well placed to keep their lead in the disinfo stakes.”

    You have got to be fucking kidding me.

  5. Floyd,

    Maybe the poll was actually debunked elsewhere, but the H&R entry at the link you provided doesn’t do so. Sure, it takes issue with the meaning of one of the three points, and raises the valid question of whether the audiences of other news outlets may have misconceptions on other issues, but I think it’s fair to say that according to this survey, Fox News viewers had “the most distorted and wrong knowledge” on these three points having to do with the Iraq war.

    Of course, the poll does not show that “Fox News viewers are stupid.” It just shows that they were the most likely to believe these three untrue things.

  6. Got-damn, what a hottie. Are there any nekkid pics of her?

  7. I don’t know why I find the title of this thread so funny. I just do.

  8. When the facts have a liberal bias – as facts so often do, with their elitist bigotry towards bullshit – you can count on Fox News to be fair and balanced.

  9. This is a surprisingly stupid H&R entry — usually the stuff here isn’t this braindead.

    I don’t know much about what these docs do or do not contain but I would think if David Weigel wants to convince us that these docs are “disinfo” he might want to actually give us some evidence of that or a link to an analysis making that case rather than citing a two-year old survey about Fox News viewer’s beliefs about the Iraq war. (And the Media Matters link doesn’t count because it is crap, ignoring the nuances and disagreements in the New York Times story it in turn links to).

    What the hell does that have to do with the legitimacy of the docs or the story on Fox?

    Finally, very weird to see Reason essentially blasting a private effort to double-check the government’s work. I guess the next time I get my copy and see a bit in Reason about a government report or conclusion that was wrong, I’ll have to conclude that the feds are the experts and the only ones capable of reaching those sorts of conclusions (who the hell is Jacob Sullum to challenge government experts on second hand smoking?)

  10. Good God, people still believe that the AQ networks in Iraq sprung from the ground fully formed when Saddam’s statue was pulled down, ready to do battle side by side with displaced Baathists, but that prior to that instant AQ had no presence in Iraq and nothing to do with the Baathists?

    Is anybody really that stupid?

  11. Here’s to hoping this isn’t a double post…

    Democratic Underground is on line two for you, David. They want you back and promise not to be so far to your right in the future.

    I’ve had similar thoughts, but it’s nice to see I’m not the only one.

    I don’t know much about what these docs do or do not contain but I would think if David Weigel wants to convince us that these docs are “disinfo” he might want to actually give us some evidence of that or a link to an analysis making that case rather than citing a two-year old survey about Fox News viewer’s beliefs about the Iraq war.

    Agreed as well. Of course, we’re talking about a guy (Weigel) who uncritically suggested that Jonathan Rauch’s completely statist oil reduction idea was some sort of way to “solve our energy problems, if President Bush feels like checking his mail.”

  12. No R C, most people basically believe that the AQ networks have very little to do with what is going on in Iraq, either in 2003 or right now. For the most part our troops are fighting Iraqis, not Syrians, Jordanians, or Saudis that’s well established. Al Qaeda is at best a sideshow in Iraq and always has been. The constant attention to Sadaam’s connections with Al Qaeda has only led our leadership to vastly underestimate the amount of internal ethnic tension in Iraq. The discovery of a few aging WMDS or some vague ties to Al Qaeda in 2001 hardly demonstrate that Sadamm posed any kind of credible threat to US national security so it’s a little ridiculous for supporters of the war to keep pretending these finds retroactively justify our actions and the disastrous consequences that have followed.

  13. hmmm, two iraqfile threads fail to take off in full 100 post bitchy, blundering fashion. This looks like a job for…

  14. the other Mark,you should see Julie Banderas,she is a total hottie.WOW!

  15. I can name at least 5 countries that likely have loose connections to al-Queda that we didn’t invade. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Sudan. I would bet most of these countries have tighter ties to AQ -than Iraq did.

  16. But can you name five countries that were thought to have ties with al Qaeda, known to have ties with other islamofascist terrorist, known for invading their neighbors, known for using chemical weapons, known for a longstanding dictator slaughtering his own people, known for violating numerous binding UN resolutions, known for having fought a war with us, known for violating the cease-fire agreement, known for continuing to target and fire on our aircraft flying under UN sanction…

    Five, hell, closest you can get is Israel, and why the fuck would we invade Israel. Although, that would make a pretty awesome Marvel-style ‘what if’ story. Imagine:

    Following 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, President Bush was trying to decide who to invade next. While Cheney pushed for Iraq, and they did have oil, Bush was hearing something different from his DUnderground sources. Convinced that the towers were taken down by a bunch of Mossad-trained artists with funny noses and little hats, he focused on Israel. The decision was difficult, but once he learned that a former IDF fighter turned poet had slept his way into a Homeland Security position, homo style, he was convinced he had to act. The ultimatum was sent, give back all that money and those planes or it would be Shock and Oy-vey.

  17. Vanya and Mo it’s very naughty of you to bring up things that suggest the war in Iraq was not, perhaps, a good idea.

  18. Apologies to Mr. Weigel re: the Rauch article. That was really off-base and not relevant to anything, not to mention completely unfair.

  19. I’m sorry, Vanya did you just argue that Al-Queda has little to do with the current events in Iraq?

    So, Al-Queda didn’t actually claim credit for an assortment of Bagdad bombings? Al-Zarqawi didn’t declare loyalty to bin-Laden? They didn’t take control of Tal Afar back in March?

    So, who are those people the Iraqi insurgents are fighting with, then?

    Interesting.

  20. Yeah Michael, that’s what pretty much everybody, including the US military is claiming. “Al Qaeda” can claim all the crap they want, they’re not running the Sunni Iraqi terror campaign, the Iraqi Baathists are. And I really hope you’re not going to try to tell me that “Al Qaeda” is behind the Shiite attacks on Sunni neighborhoods, or Kurdish attacks on Arabs and Turkmen in Mosul. There certainly are plenty of nasty foreigners stirring up trouble in Iraq but they’re the usual suspects – Iranian intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Syrian baathists, etc. Al Qaeda warriors are the pawns not the chessmasters.

  21. vanya knows, she’s been there on the inside and knows these things first hand, if reading articles from your computer 5000 miles away constitutes being there at least. Her high level talks with military leaders of various countries told here the AQ warriors are the pawns. God I love comment threads.

  22. Reena Ninan is hot, but CNN’s Rudi Bakhtiar and Christina Park are hotter.

    YES, this is a VERY important point.

  23. After Chewy’s post, I put this together just for fun:

    Sudan
    -Links to Al Qaeda: check
    -Links to other Islamist terrorists: big check (http://www.cfr.org/publication/9367/state_sponsors.html)
    -Invading neighbors: check (Chad, just last year)
    -Chemical weapons use: not that we know of (but would it really surprise you to find that the janjaweed have used napalm or the like against Darfur villagers?)
    -Longstanding dictator slaughtering citizens: yep, that’s a check
    -Violating UN resolutions: check
    -Violating cease-fire agreements: check
    -Fighting a war with us, targeting our aircraft: nope. ‘Course, I’m pretty damn sure they would if we went into Darfur.

    Final tally: closer than Israel, anyway. Still, the “What If” stuff was hilarious. Now watch this triple post.

  24. “When the facts have a liberal bias – as facts so often do, with their elitist bigotry towards bullshit – you can count on Fox News to be fair and balanced.”

    I admit it. I LOLLED.

  25. RC –

    It’s certainly possible AQ had a presence in Iraq prior to our invasion, but that’s hardly tantamount to an alliance with Saddam. No doubt they have a pretty strong presence in Jordan as well, but it doesn’t mean the King is in cahoots with them.

    In any case, I’ll admit I don’t fully know exactly what is happening on the ground in Iraq right now if you will. But AQ claiming responsibility for some explosions don’t make it necessarily f-ing so, and by most accounts Al-Zarqawi and Bin Laden had a distant relationship at best; no doubt Al-Zarqawi dropped the big boy’s name when it suited him to do so (and vice versa).

    C’mon, even the Bush Admin has pretty much given up on the “Saddam helped plan 9-11” meme. Give up the ghost.

  26. What’s up wiht that reporter’s teeth?

    Are they made of depleated uranium or ann unknown substance?

  27. Ha,

    I’m only 1600 miles away, but good guess.


  28. Finally, very weird to see Reason essentially blasting a private effort to double-check the government’s work. I guess the next time I get my copy and see a bit in Reason about a government report or conclusion that was wrong, I’ll have to conclude that the feds are the experts and the only ones capable of reaching those sorts of conclusions (who the hell is Jacob Sullum to challenge government experts on second hand smoking?)

    Well, when the Feds have been
    a) Investigating something for months with a coterie of top experts in the field
    b) have access to lots of intelligence that we don’t
    c) have access to lots of documents that we don’t
    d) Have access to lots of regime figures that we don’t.
    and most critically of all (pay attention wingnuts)

    e) Have a strong vested interestin actually showing they were WMDs in Iraq

    actually concludes the opposite, then its probably a heck of a lot more reliable than arbitrary documetns whose provenance is not clear.

    Example — one of the translated documents has a greatly detailed description of setting up safe houses in Kandahar and evading attention. Fox comments that it shows Saddam was trying to train AQ in Kandahar. But the document never refers to anything like that, and given that Kandahar was actually the Taliban stronghold, a more plausible case might be that he was spying on them, as all Intel services do.


  29. Good God, people still believe that the AQ networks in Iraq sprung from the ground fully formed when Saddam’s statue was pulled down, ready to do battle side by side with displaced Baathists, but that prior to that instant AQ had no presence in Iraq and nothing to do with the Baathists? Is anybody really that stupid?

    Good lord, are people still deranged enough to believe that Saddam had some sort of active official, significant link with AQ and actually allowed AQ to operate on his controlled territory, and yet a) Managed to conceal all references to it in all the dcouments we’ve captured b) managed to use mind control rays to wipe it fromt he minds from his senior staff and cabinet and everyone ?

    Are there still people self-deluded enough to think that Saddam, who could not even defend Baghdad properly, was able to setup this link and hide it with devastating efficiency from the US and Army Intel officials who’ve now occupied Iraq ?

    Are there still people so ignorant of geography that they don’t realize that Zarqawi was operating in the North of Iraq, in Kurdish controlled areas ?

    Are there still people so ignorant of history that they don’t remember that it took months for the insurgency in Iraq to take effect and that practically all of the early attacks were standard attacks, or those using IEDs, and that the suicide attacks and car bombs didn’t begin until several months later, and they didn’t pick up tempo till later, indicating a ramp up effort of suicide brigades (including, but not limited to AQ).


  30. But can you name five countries that were thought to have ties with al Qaeda, known to have ties with other islamofascist terrorist, known for invading their neighbors, known for using chemical weapons, known for a longstanding dictator slaughtering his own people, known for violating numerous binding UN resolutions, known for having fought a war with us, known for violating the cease-fire agreement, known for continuing to target and fire on our aircraft flying under UN sanction…

    Whats with this enforcement of UN resolutions and aircraft flying under UN sanction ? I thought we didn’t care for the stinking UN ?

    And the no-fly zones really did not have UN sanction since they were not authorized by the UNSC. And I think it takes a lot of chutzpah to declare no fly zones in another country, then claim aggression if that country fires at your air force when it flies in that country’s air.

    Dont’ misunderstand me, I think they were a great idea to stop Saddam from using his air force on the Kurds or the SHia, but they were not under UN sanction.

    There were also some reports that the US and UK wre trying to provoke Saddam to attack even more to create an incident that would serve as the causus belli for the war.

    Saddam pre-war had a pathetic army that did not control 1/3rd of his country, no air force to speak of, a pathetic Potemkin army. He had no WMDs to speak of and had an army of inspectors crawling over his territory. He was surrounded by neighrbors like IRan and Turkey who hated him.

  31. Brian Carnell writes

    Finally, very weird to see Reason essentially blasting a private effort to double-check the government’s work.

    Brian, it’s not that you’re wrong on the principle. In this specific case, “distributed intelligence analysis” could be useful if the following conditions obtained:

    1. The docs were translated and examined by dispassionate freelance analysts; OR

    2. The docs were translated and examined by a broad cross-section of partisans with a full range of views about the Iraq War; AND

    3. Everybody involved recognized all the limitations of the process (how cautiously one should construe the significance of any one document or set of them); AND

    4. The translators provided full workups of not just COMPLETE body text, but prefatory material, headers, footers, signatures etc.

    Instead what is actually happening is

    1. The project is the province almost exclusively of what remains of semiprofessional Iraq-War hawkery assembled.

    2. Said assembly construes texts in the broadest conceivable fashion.

    3. Translators provide partial-text “juicy bits”, texts without appurtenances (headers, footers, etc); “analysis” without context – e.g. who IS that name on the signature line anyway?

    4. Something else bad that I forgot, actually.

  32. vanya knows, she’s been there on the inside and knows these things first hand, if reading articles from your computer 5000 miles away constitutes

    Some of the stuff I’ve seen around here lately has made me wonder a lot how closely Reason checks into what it posts. But — but — gasp —

    What if nobody on the web is “checking their facts”? Everybody has “been there”, from 5000 miles away, including us.

    I for one have never seen a certified “Fact Generator” person running around my community. It has made me wonder about all these “facts” that people talk about. Precisely where do all these “facts” that we argue about come from?

    What if we live in a big planet cage built by aliens, who are experimenting on their ability to control us by dropping random “facts” in on us periodically? “Hey Rolf, watch what happens when I drop this one in there! Ha ha ha!”

    Here’s a “fact”. In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq I went digging around on the web. I found “articles” and “documents” and “reports” that were full of “facts”, asserted by very authoritative types of high ranking and/or highly paid and well dressed people.

    Curiously, I was able to find as many apparently “factual” reports saying Saddam had all nasty kinds of stuff, as there were “factual” documents saying he didn’t have shit.

    Precisely how was I supposed to know which were “facts” and which were “anti-facts”? I concede that I had no clue in advance what Saddam really had. It would now appear that he didn’t have shit, but that’s if you take the mean of the sum total of “factual reports” that are still to be found floating aroud out there.

    God I love comment threads.

    Me too. It’s better than religion. Blog is Good, Blog is Great, for ever and ever amen.

  33. >>>>>Democratic Underground is on line two for you, David. They want you back and promise not to be so far to your right in the future.

  34. yet you provide not one single relevant fact to dispute the report, very telling, and it tells me you can’t dispute the report, meaning it must be true.

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