The New York Times exclusive about captured Iraqi documents put online by the government is getting some mighty weak pushback from Iraq war defenders. At the same time, the story doesn't seem all that damning. The gist:
…in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq's secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.
In other words, it contains the information you could read in The Progressive 25 years ago. But the pro-war spin is that the Times just proved Iraq was looking at nuclear technology before the 2003 invasion. Again, something we knew for about 22 years. We can ignore that argument.
What grabs me is that the online document archive is the same one that puzzled me six months ago, when I reviewed two books by bloggers and surveyed the state of blogs.
[Rep. Peter] Hoekstra, the chairman of the Select House Intelligence Committee and a vocal supporter of the Iraq war, wanted to attach jumper cables to the debate over weapons of mass destruction. Three years had passed since weapons inspectors, following Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's directions, had failed to find deadly ordnance "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." Hoekstra's committee had a stash of declassified documents from before the war, and no one was translating them; since the WMD debate was basically over, there wasn't much interest in what Saddam's inner circle used to bluster about. But if these documents could be publicized, there would be a chance for war supporters to argue anew that the invasion was justified. Now, Hoekstra told Marcus, was the time to "unleash the power of the Net on these 55,000 boxes of documents to see exactly what went on." Bloggers could translate the documents themselves, or at least pass around information and rumors about what the papers contained. If the intelligence community wasn't interested, Hoekstra could put the papers online and "let the blogosphere go!"
In other words, if it wasn't for the Republican chairman of the Intelligence committee trying to re-re-re-re-write the history of the Iraq war, using bloggers as dupes, this stuff never would have come online. The atom bomb plan would have stayed in some archive alongside the Ark of the Covenant. I'm assuming the atom bomb plan isn't even a big deal, but keep in mind that Republicans like Hoekstra and future President Duncan Hunter consider every leak of intelligence—or criticism of the war plan—as an in-kind contribution to the Islamoterrorfascists. There's a reap/sow thing going on here.
One of the Count Floyd campaign's attacks on the Democratic party is that a Democratic House majority would install Alcee Hastings, a former Florida judge who was impeached, as the new leader of the House Intelligence Committee. At this point that'd be a welcome change, if it would rid of us of jokers like Hoekstra.
(UPDATE: If it's not clear here, I should point out that the documents do not suggest Iraq was reconstituting its nuke program in 2002-2003. Quite the opposite.)