Monday, April 17, 2006

Double secret

Saturday's Washington Post carried an article about the tone of political commentary in liberal blogs and the comment sections thereof. Apparently some people don't like George Bush and say so. The article has led to predictable lamentations from The Right about the decline in civility from the good old days when the first lady would be called Hitlery Clintoon. But instead of focusing on people typing wacky stuff in a comment thread on Kos, the Post could take a look at some of what goes on in the right-wing blogs these days, specifically Project Harmony -- a freelance, decentralized translation effort of thousands of Saddam-era documents dumped into the public domain by the Pentagon.

The agenda is to find proof of the existence of WMDs, although how exactly the invasion in search of actual WMDs would be vindicated by the search for mentions of them in documents still escapes us. Anyway, the translation efforts are being undertaken mostly by contributors to big right-wing blogs, and so there is much exultation today, for example from Powerline's "Hindrocket":

... jveritas at Free Republic ... has come up with what appears to be a highly significant memorandum. This is how he introduces the translation:

Document ISGP-2003-0001498 contains a 9 page TOP SECRET memo (pages 87-96 in the pdf document) dated March 16 2003 that talks about transferring “SPECIAL AMMUNITION” from one ammunition depot in Najaf to other ammunition depots near Baghdad. As we know by now the term SPECIAL AMMUNITION was used by Saddam Regime to designate CHEMICAL WEAPONS as another translated document has already shown.

Now while investigative journalist Con Coughlin had an uncanny ability to find WMD-documents miracalously available in Telegraph-ready English, it's not clear here whether Saddam was equally obliging in capitalising any potential references -- in Arabic -- to his beloved WMDs.

But consider one very obvious problem with this memo. If the memo is already "TOP SECRET," why would Saddam not just explicitly refer to the weapons, instead of the nod-wink SPECIAL AMMUNITION designation?

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