A lie begets a smear

I was away this weekend at the wedding of the (not conservative) daughter of my conservative cousin from New York. I therefore did not have the opportunity to write about the bizarre claim that Douglas Feith’s office at the Defense Department forged a document to prove an Iraq- al Qaeda connection.

The saga began with reports about a new book by Ron Suskind — The Way of the World — in which Suskind claims that the CIA performed the above-mentioned forgery, at the direction of the White House. That story faltered when the two sources relied on by Suskind denied the substance of Suskind’s explosive report.

At this point, Philip Giraldi, a onetime CIA officer, saw an opportunity to perpetuate Suskind’s apparently baseless story notwithstanding the denials of sources and to indulge his passion for smearing “neocons.” He thus claimed that Suskind’s tale about a forgery was true except that the CIA wasn’t involved. Instead, according to Giraldi, it was Feith, then undersecretary for policy at the Defense Department, who was behind the forgery.

Giraldi based this smear on reports from unnamed sources, meaning that his story could not be exploded in the same way Suskind’s was. But it also means that one has to take Giraldi’s word for it.

However, as Noah Pollak demonstrated, Giraldi is a crack-pot anti-Semite. For example, Giraldi wrote a letter in which he argued that over-promotion of the Holocaust has helped make “Israel-firsters masters of the executive and legislative branches.”

Moreover, Feith seems to have become a major outlet for Giraldi’s hatreds and frustrations. Readers can weigh this claim, and assess Giraldi’s stability as a general matter, by checking out this diatribe.

Extremists on the left and right quickly promoted Giraldi’s smear. But the prize for sheer idiocy in this saga goes to Andrew Sullivan, who presented the concern that “possible errors in Suskind’s reporting will undermine the deeper truth of what he’s pointing out.” As Academic Elephant at Red State put it:

When the sources for a story contradict each other and the facts fall apart, there is no “deeper truth.” Rumor? Yes. Innuendo? Certainly. Rubbish? Quite possibly. But no truth.

JOHN adds: Ron Suskind is not a reputable journalist. He is a smear merchant who has engaged in fraudulent misrepresentation of documents in the past, as we showed here.

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