Saturday, June 24, 2006

(Bad) News Management...

Remember when, back all those days ago, on 19 June 2006 WaPo published details of a cable from Ambassador Khaliljad to his bosses in Washington? Somewhere way back in the archives.... Ahhh here we are!!

Can you imagine the consternation and panic that leak must have caused? Press Secretaries running the corridors, Security Advisers trying to find out who was the last person to take a leak, Strategy Policy meetings, endless meetings of DoD and Intelligence personnel to work out what to do next in Iraq... Comings and goings on a scale not even IMAGINED by West Wing.

"Hey!! I got an idea!!!"

And the whole White House goes silent.

"We declassify that silly report about finding some old chem shells in a dump. Remember that one? It was trashed about two years back but no one will remember that!"

And so we get FoxNews to give time to Santorum...
The powerful U.S.-based Fox News Channel is saturating its news coverage Wednesday with reports weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.

Two Republican senators have obtained declassified documents which show 500 shells containing degraded sarin and mustard gas were found three years ago.

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) said Wednesday, 'Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist.'

'That means in addition to the 500, there are filled and unfilled munitions still believed to exist within the country,' he added.

Despite the shells being at least fifteen years old, Santorum said, 'Pre-Gulf War Iraqi chemical weapons could be sold on the Black Market. Use of these weapons by terrorist or insurgent groups would have implications for coalition forces in Iraq. The possibility of use outside of Iraq cannot be ruled out. The most likely munitions remaining are sarin- and mustard-filled projectiles. And I underscore filled.'

While conceding the gases 'degrade over time,' the document said that the chemicals 'remain hazardous and potentially lethal,' said Santorum, who was supported by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.).

So, how much has the US spent in the pursuit of 500, old, fifteen year old, gas filled shells? How much damage, over what kind of area would those weapons be effective? No one tells you that.




Why is it that Bush gave the "most important job of rescuing the credibility of the US Administration" to three honest and faithful Senators?

Well, there are two or three almost dead certainties for re-election in November - remember the mid-terms?

Why not give the job to Khaliljad, as a penance for his cable?

No. That would draw attention toward the source of that unmentionable cable. Can't take any risks there!!

And so it was, that on the 22 June, Senators Santorum and Hoekstra were handed a "newly declassified report", and the rest is history.

MediaMatters writes up better than I can. Go Read.

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