- Cui bono? Latin for Who benefits? As the Bush Administration tried very hard to hint that Saddam Hussein was allied with al Qaeda before the Iraq War, then clearly, they do.
- What's the source of the information? Again, the Bush Administration. The story is structured in such a way that there is no one outside the Administration who can verify anything.
- Are there any odd features about the story, anything that's hard to explain rationally? Yes. My sister worked as a paralegal for about a decade. Dealing with large quantites of written material was one of the things they did. Standard procedure is that the paralegals takes first crack at it. They identify the important papers and passages within the papers. After everything is looked through, highlighted and catalogued, the big, important and expensive lawyers look at it and run through the important sections with a fine-tooth comb.
As captured papers might have contained hints of where WMD were hidden, the Administration should have seen to it that the papers were surveyed and catalogued right away. America doesn't have a huge supply of people who can read Arabic, but the need was not for people with a detailed, fluent grasp of the language. The need was for folks who knew Arabic well enough to have gotten the gist of what each paper was about. In this way, 2 million documents could have and should have been processed within a couple of weeks or perhaps a few months. By the time the inspectors (I believe Iraq had about a thousand inspectors running about) concluded there were no nukes in Iraq, the captured papers should have been processed.
ThinkProgess' analysis of David's latest claim:
After pointing that Vice-President Cheney is a believer, they point out that
If the documents are so beneficial for the administration’s case for war, why haven’t they been released yet? This is where it gets fishy. The Defense Department says it won’t release the documents because, if it did, the documents would create bad press for the administration:
The main worry, says DiRita, is that the mainstream press might cherry-pick documents and mischaracterize their meaning. “There is always the concern that people would be chasing a lot of information good or bad, and when the Times or the Post splashes a headline about some sensational-sounding document that would seem to ‘prove’ that sanctions were working, or that Saddam was just a misunderstood patriot, or some other nonsense, we’d spend a lot of time chasing around after it.”
It seems more than likely that the documents aren’t beneficial and the only way they can get some good press out of them is to characterize them to a right-wing flak like Steven Hayes.
They then point out that Cheney and Hayes have both been engaged in passing on (as the British term it) "dodgy" information.
MediaMatters' take on the question:
MediaMatters notes the disputes over the source Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi and concludes al-Libi was passing on "spurious" claims. They then point out that:
Hayes has a conspicuous record of misinformation regarding Iraq War intelligence. His book, The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein has Endangered America (HarperCollins, 2004), purported to demonstrate numerous links between Al Qaeda and Iraq. But as Media Matters noted, the leaked Defense Department memo upon which much of Hayes's book is based has been discredited, and the Defense Department distanced itself from the memo in November 2003, describing its contents as "inaccurate." In two recent Weekly Standard articles, Hayes offered a litany of falsehoods and distortions regarding the alleged leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.
In short, there is no reason for a non-Bush Administration supporter to take the latest claims from Hayes seriously.