Above: John ‘Oopsie McDoodles’ Hinderaker, amateur intelligence expert
[Note: Also see our original piece on the beginning of this fiasco, in March of this year.]
So: in a futile effort to prove that Saddam was the world’s biggest and most nastiest threat to freedom since Kim Jong Il transformed himself into a billion-gajillion Hitlers, our government posted several Iraqi documents on the Internets containing critical information on how to build an atomic bomb:
The nationâ€™s top intelligence official took down a government Web site with captured Saddam Hussein-era Iraqi documents, after questions were raised whether it provided too much information about making atomic bombs.
In a statement Thursday night, a spokesman for National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said his office has suspended public access to the Web site â€œpending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.â€? [...]
Two intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told NBC News that outside experts, including the director of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, informed the Bush administration that it might have inadvertently publicized how-to-manuals for making nuclear bombs.
A diplomat affiliated with the IAEA said its inspectors were â€œshocked by the explicitness of the contentâ€? on the Web site and that a senior agency official conveyed the concerns to U.S. diplomats in Vienna, where the agency is based.
And just to give you a refresher, let’s recall who was pushing for these documents to be published online in the first place. Why that’s right! It was our good friends at Powerline:
One of several conservative blogs devoting attention to the release, Powerline.com, set up a separate page to catalog its findings and news reports on what the documents reveal.
“These documents are going to shed a lot of light on a regime that was quite successful in maintaining secrecy,” said John Hinderaker, one of three men who run the site. “Before the first Gulf War, Saddam was perilously close to getting nuclear weapons and people didn’t know it. The evils of the regime will be reflected.”
Of course, if you expected the Powerline guys to show some humiliation or shame over this collosal blunder, you’d be sorely mistaken:
The New York Times now has carried unthinking Bush-bashing to a point beyond caricature. Today, as Tiger Hawk notes, it quotes with apparent approval “experts” who say that Saddam was as little as a year away from building an atom bomb.
Uh, OK. Let’s go to that graf in the Times (my emphasis):
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Husseinâ€™s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
Guys? I’m pretty sure the “experts” were referring to the time right after the first Gulf War, and not 2002. But hey, what do I know? Unlike Captain Ed and friends, I never took the time to translate all the Iraqi documents into Klingon and Elvish.
Anyway, let’s go back to Powerline:
The Times does so in order to show that the Bush administration acted recklessly when it published captured Iraqi documents that describe that country’s WMD programs, because those documents might be used by another country in furtherance of building WMD.
Did the Times just say that Saddam’s Iraq was a year away from building a nuclear weapon? I guess so. Good thing Saddam’s no longer in power.
As Tiger Hawk puts it, “the New York Times owes Judith Miller an apology. Or at least a hat tip.” Not to mention President Bush.
Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM
UPDATE: Hoo boy, this thing has turned into a right-wing meme, hasn’t it? According to Digby, both Condi Rice and Dan Bartlet have hit the airwaves parroting this bogus “SADDAM WAS ONLY A YEAR AWAY FROM HAVING NUKES!111″ claim. As the Digster notes:
Dan Bartlett’s out there right now saying exactly the same thing. Mitchell corrected him, but this looks like the official party line. They really do think their base is completely braindead. They would know.
They sure would. Hey, anyone think Old Yeller’s gonna be home for dinner tonight?