September 09, 2004
So, once again, it seems they've been had
Google news reports as of 6 p.m. EST there are roughly 1,100 near-identical English-language news stories on the forged "Bush AWOL" memos dating back to yesterday, with more still being added every hour. Apparently not a single editor bothered to look at the in-retrospect obvious forgeries posted on the CBS website and decide to qualify, even a little bit. This may be the most remarkable example of mass media groupthink in history.
It really is like watching Kent Brockman sending two cameras to catch that escaped octopus at Springfield Elementary, isn't it?
PS: Here's a good example of what a military document from the period really looked like. Note the non-proportional fonts, the use of the lower-case "l" in place of "1", the non-angled apostrophes. I'm not so young I didn't type all my high school and early university papers on either a manual or electric typewriter, plus numerous military memos, so I'm somewhat familiar with the form. But I can't believe anyone over the age of 35 fell for this for a minute if they actually *looked* at the documents... which itself says something about the CBS news team, I suppose. But what's Kevin Drum's excuse?
Meanwhile, in other news of the kind that would be actually helping the Kerry campaign, if they weren't tied up in the Bush AWOL stuff, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the guy behind Sept. 11, is now almost certainly still alive. Oh, joy.
Couple Slate articles worth reading
Interesting piece here on the U.S. Army's new uniforms. What I find interesting is the profound difference the color balance on a jpg can make... the image on the main Slate page I believe has truer colours (sand/light green) than the image inside (where the uniform looks gray/blue).
Having been part of the first military with pixelized combat gear, I continue to be amazed by how easily the Canadian Forces CADPAT blends into our traditional light infantry training setting (the Canadian woodlands of a Gagetown or Petawawa). Slate is right that the U.S. army's use of a grayish pixellation, optimized for an urban environment, is a telling indication of where they expect the battles of the next few years to be.
This is also an excellent piece. How to recruit good people to intelligence work is a conundrum in any country. At some point the need for operational or source security trumps the need to explain or publicize the achievements. In a world of publicity and marketing, intelligence recruiters basically have to work in a marketing-free environment... you don't find out how cool things really are until you're inside the multiple Maxwell Smart doors. Until they figure out how to solve that conundrum, they'll never get the good people they need.
"endearingly macho" -- Mark Steyn
"wonderfully detailed analysis" -- John Allemang, Globe and Mail
"unusually candid" -- Tom Ricks, Foreignpolicy.com
Bill & Bob
Ghosts of Alex