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Context, shmontext

Donald Luskin can occasionally be a little strident in his attacks on Paul Krugman, but he effectively demolishes Krugman's recent partisan screed (yeah, I know, that doesn't narrow it down. I mean this one, from Friday.) Krugman's main theme lately -- okay, his only theme lately -- is that the Bush administration is dishonest. But Krugman (or "former Enron advisor Paul Krugman," as some like to call him) feels so desperate to establish this, that he resorts to dishonesty of his own. In this case, Krugman strings together a series of damning quotes proving that the Bush administration was lying about Iraq -- and the results are compelling. I know Bush lies -- he's a politician, after all -- but reading the editorial made me think the charges were extremely serious, this time around. The only problem is that Krugman pulled them all out of context, as Luskin points out. One example:

And, inevitably, the tangled yarn finally leads to a clipping from Krugman's favorite source for war news -- the BBC.
"This week a senior British intelligence official told the BBC that under pressure from Downing Street, a dossier on Iraqi weapons had been 'transformed' to make it 'sexier' uncorroborated material from a suspect source was added to make the threat appear imminent."
But it turns out that Krugman's version of the BBC story is what's uncorroborated -- by the actual content of the BBC story, that is. Hogberg found John H. Hinderaker of the Power Line blog has tracked down the BBC story, "Iraq Weapons Dossier 'Rewritten'". Hinderaker writes,
"Even the BBC's own anonymous source concedes that 'Most things in the dossier were double source.' In fact, there is only one fact stated in the dossier that the BBC's anonymous official questions: the statement that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction could be 'ready for use within 45 minutes.' This statement was based on information from only one source, who was not considered reliable by the BBC's informant.

"That's it. Everything else in the British dossier is conceded to be correct: '[T]he official said he was convinced that Iraq had programme to produce weapons of mass destruction, and felt it was 30% likely there was a biological weapons programme. He said some evidence had been 'downplayed' by chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix."

Why does Krugman go on like this, clipping his clippings and linking them together and searching endlessly for the key to the secret code that will reveal the truth about the Bushie plot to hijack America?
Indeed, Luskin actually goes too easy on Krugman here. When you read the BBC piece, it makes it clear that the BBC's source is not, in any way, questioning the case against Saddam:
But the official said he was convinced that Iraq had programme to produce weapons of mass destruction, and felt it was 30% likely there was a biological weapons programme.

He said some evidence had been "downplayed" by chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix.

So why would Krugman cite a BBC article supporting Bush's arguments in claiming that the BBC reported that Bush's arguments were false? Did he not read the BBC piece before quoting it? Or did he just hope nobody else would check up on him? And how long is the New York Times going to let Krugman and Maureen Dowd continue to embarrass themselves like this?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 3, 2003 3:35 PM.

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