The secret Iraq documents my 8-year-old found
May 18, 2007 10:31 AM   Subscribe

The secret Iraq documents my 8-year-old found. With a couple of keystrokes, you too can read the hidden history of the Coalition Provisional Authority, America's late, unlamented occupation government in Iraq.
posted by nevercalm (50 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
*shakes fist at script kiddies*
posted by matteo at 10:43 AM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fascinating, though one wants to know what all the other documents said. Sadly, this sort of mistake is a thing of the past in Word 2007. :-( Let's just hope the Feds don't upgrade!
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:53 AM on May 18, 2007


Yep, leave it to Microsoft's security holes to exposes the hidden agenda of our government.

I love the idea that the incompetence of one group might reveal the incompetence of another.
posted by quin at 10:54 AM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pete Moore's discovery adds further to what Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported in his book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" (which Moore references).

Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq
"Many of those chosen...to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort."
posted by ericb at 10:56 AM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


You can't blame Microsoft for this one, fellows. This is operator error.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:04 AM on May 18, 2007


Whoa! That's a crazy story.
posted by OmieWise at 11:07 AM on May 18, 2007


Rhomboid, the problem isn't redaction, it's the metadata. I get to see these kinds of mistakes frequently in the legal business when documents get produced or transmitted without removing metadata.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:12 AM on May 18, 2007


Okay, then you want this one then. It's still operator error.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:15 AM on May 18, 2007


Rhomboid--this isn't a matter of trying and failing to censor a document: it's a matter of creating a document via cut-and-paste from another source, and then deleting the parts you don't want to keep.

If revision-tracking is on, the palimpsests persist.

I get most of my work in the form of Word files from clients, and every so often it pops up on my screen with the revision history visible. While I never get anything as juicy as this, I do see stuff that is kind of interesting in context.

Arguably, it is still operator error since it is possible to create a sanitized file with no trace of the edit history. But until the Army commissions a study to write a report on developing a procedure for sanitizing public-facing files, I don't think we can fault whatever communications officer or whoever did this.

Frankly, I find it surprising that the article author, whose job it is to look for information in unexpected places, didn't think of this on his own: this is the medium he is working in; he should learn the tricks of working in it.
posted by adamrice at 11:15 AM on May 18, 2007


A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

Seriously? I want to cry.
posted by footnote at 11:18 AM on May 18, 2007


footnote, this administration is not interested in finding skilled individuals for important positions. It's Entourage on a world scale.
posted by NationalKato at 11:24 AM on May 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Seriously? I want to cry.

And how about the 33-year-old graduate of Pat Robertson's Liberty University Law School (ranked in the bottom tier of law schools; 136th. out of 170 schools) who had more experience in press relations than legal work, but was given authority to vet candidates -- many highly-experienced, top-notch lawyers and jurists -- for state Attorney General positions and was later involved in the sacking of a number of them mid-term?
posted by ericb at 11:32 AM on May 18, 2007


NSA Guidelines for publishing redacted Word documents.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:33 AM on May 18, 2007


footnote, this administration is not interested in finding skilled individuals for important positions. It's Entourage on a world scale.

Yeah, it's about being loyal to Bush and the GOP agenda. Nothing about competence.

The George W. Bush Loyalty Quiz.

The Republican Loyalty Quiz.
posted by ericb at 11:36 AM on May 18, 2007


But until the Army commissions a study to write a report on developing a procedure for sanitizing public-facing files, I don't think we can fault whatever communications officer or whoever did this.

"The procedure" involves installing the free Microsoft add-in and clicking "run." I'm positive that all branches of the military have fully documented this painstaking process ever since their previous fuckups. Thus, I still have to go with plain old operator error.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:41 AM on May 18, 2007


The younger generation does it again, rubbing our faces in it.....
posted by NedderLander at 12:03 PM on May 18, 2007


And how about the 33-year-old graduate of Pat Robertson's Liberty University Law School

At least Monica Goodling had some kind of law degree! It boggles the mind that they couldn't even find staffers with MBAs or CPAs, even if they got them online or something.

Did the Administration really not give a shit about running Iraq, or were they really as stupid/incompetent as this all makes them seem?
posted by footnote at 12:05 PM on May 18, 2007


Did the Administration really not give a shit about running Iraq, or were they really as stupid/incompetent as this all makes them seem?

Well, if the Bush Administration put faith in the former Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association to oversee FEMA (responsbile for emergency management of domestic crises and disasters), surely they have no problem in sending third-rate lackeys to rebuild a country we destroyed.
posted by ericb at 12:12 PM on May 18, 2007


Incompetency in lower-level sinecures (like FEMA) aren't really surprising to me. It does surprise me that the Administration wouldn't try to find colorably competent people for what they must have known would be the single most important undertaking of Bush's tenure.
posted by footnote at 12:16 PM on May 18, 2007


Why not both? They thought (or said they thought) the war was only going to last six months, tops.

Post-war planning non-existent:
In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.

Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.

The slide said: "To Be Provided."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:18 PM on May 18, 2007


Maher riffs on the Pat Robertson U thing here. (YouTube)
posted by Zinger at 12:23 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


what they must have known would be the single most important undertaking of Bush's tenure.

God was on their side. They didn't need competent people.

The possibility of failure was so utterly alien to them that there was no reason to waste the time of anyone competent; their time would be better spent where they were -- earning money that could be dumped into PACs later on.

The only goal for the CPA was to cultivate a new generation of loyalists. That's it. Handling Iraq was merely a sideshow.
posted by aramaic at 12:28 PM on May 18, 2007


Did the Administration really not give a shit about running Iraq, or were they really as stupid/incompetent as this all makes them seem?

I assert that lack of care naturally follows from being stupid and incompetent.

Additionally, I suppose this is further proof that idiots will put idiots in the wrong roles and idiots in the wrong roles will just stay there engaging in idiocy until another idiot shuffles them somewhere else.
posted by Kikkoman at 12:28 PM on May 18, 2007


Heads should roll.
posted by davy at 12:32 PM on May 18, 2007


Ok, so this is a semi-serious question: is there any room in political science/theory for the role of this kind of idiocy in government?
posted by footnote at 12:57 PM on May 18, 2007


Young, unqualified loyalists in authority positions in Iraq: Isn't this old news?

(Or is everybody just re-iterating outrage? Just strong deja-vu here.)
posted by LordSludge at 12:58 PM on May 18, 2007


It's still operator error.

Well, yes, in that it's operator ignorance. Any of us that spend our days fixing other people computer mistakes know pretty well that most people have very little clue about how their computers work. Computers being a broad term to me "the applications people rely on to do their work". I can see this type of error probably happening in law offices and health care institutions all the time. I mean, good god, some of the people I work with panic with the accidentally sort their email a different way because they don't know column headings are also active buttons. Training people to use things might help, but whatever they train to do today might very well get revised to such an extent in the next version as to be useless knowledge in a short period of time. Although people don't generally acknowledge that, I have some suspicions that it's one of the reasons people don't bother with training now as much as they used to.

Nice to see today's kids taking an active role in uncovering corruption though. :)
posted by smallerdemon at 1:00 PM on May 18, 2007


A junior at my university who had interned in the vice-president's office took a year off college to work for the CPA, running a program to educate Iraqi university students about democracy. By all accounts he was a good guy, but he hadn't even graduated from college yet and they sent him over to run a large higher education project. Anyway, near the end of his stay, his van was ambushed, and he was shot four times and hospitalized, got a lot of news stories written about him. The school administration had been heavily publicizing him already, but when that happened he was canonized. But they never mention how he got the job.
posted by gsteff at 1:05 PM on May 18, 2007


Young, unqualified loyalists in authority positions in Iraq: Isn't this old news?

(Or is everybody just re-iterating outrage? Just strong deja-vu here.)
posted by LordSludge at 3:58 PM on May 18 [+]


That's a fair question. I'd say my outrage about executive branch appointments has been re-triggered in a new, freshly virulent form after the Comey testimony and the US attorney imbroglio.
posted by footnote at 1:30 PM on May 18, 2007


It does surprise me that the Administration wouldn't try to find colorably competent people for what they must have known would be the single most important undertaking of Bush's tenure.

I think it stems in part, if not in whole, from the administration's rhetoric about nationbuilding - we don't do it. Somehow, they thought that after we deposed Sadam, Iraq would automagically spring up as a fully flowered democratic society, with an intact infrastructure and the bureaucracy to run it.

Garbage in, garbage out.
posted by rtha at 1:50 PM on May 18, 2007


Impeach!
posted by tarheelcoxn at 2:07 PM on May 18, 2007


Speaking of the idiocy of lack of planning, I'm watching the PBS documentary "No End In Sight" right now.
posted by pax digita at 2:15 PM on May 18, 2007


"It is nothing personal," the Iraqi says. "I like you and believe you could be bringing us a better future, but I still sympathize with those who attack the coalition because it is not right for Iraq to be occupied by foreign military forces."

Sums up the situation nicely ... 4 years ago.

I'd say my outrage about executive branch appointments has been re-triggered in a new, freshly virulent form after the Comey testimony

Indeed.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:25 PM on May 18, 2007


Today's White House spin on Comey's testimony: he may have been out of line for discussing a classified program.
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on May 18, 2007


In related Comey news: Was Gonzales’ emergency hospital visit illegal?
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on May 18, 2007


Well, I'm not in the least bit surprised at their lack of basic technical skills like purging the content tracking.

After all, the CPA blatantly stole their website design from Brookings in the first place, which should tell you a little about how tech savvy they were...
posted by gemmy at 2:59 PM on May 18, 2007


Wait. Do you mean the show entourage or the clusterfuck MS Entourage for Mac? Both are apt...
posted by subaruwrx at 3:18 PM on May 18, 2007


er, both would provide an apt analogy...
posted by subaruwrx at 3:19 PM on May 18, 2007


Who Won Iraq? Everyone that stayed out
posted by homunculus at 3:46 PM on May 18, 2007


Yes, it's almost as though the real purpose wasn't WMD, or spreading democracy, or fighting terrorists. It's almost as though the only point was to topple Saddam. But that can't be right.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:52 PM on May 18, 2007


Found via a link from a link in an older thread, an active-duty lieutenant colonel made sure he'll never get asked to screen for brigadier general.
posted by pax digita at 3:56 PM on May 18, 2007


pd, is the full doc online? NOW .mov PBS discusses the documentary.
posted by acro at 7:46 PM on May 18, 2007


Nice to see today's kids taking an active role in uncovering corruption though. :)

Something must be done to suppress this democratic trend.
posted by homunculus at 10:59 PM on May 18, 2007


Remember those Abu Ghraib quicktime videos Salon posted in March 2006? Salon used a video overlay track to 'redact' bits of the videos. They tried to fix their screw up about a month later, but neglected to delete the original video files.
For example: [ first try | second attempt ]
posted by ryanrs at 11:24 PM on May 18, 2007


My mistake, acro -- I thought that was the documentary at first. Hopefully there'll be a torrent somewhere.
posted by pax digita at 4:31 AM on May 19, 2007


I was looking around the Cannes site -- the film is showing there?.. Wow. It's not actually a website -- image covering text; dark text, dark background; a motion sickness inducing scrolling picture bar. Couldn't actually confirm about the doc.
posted by acro at 12:04 PM on May 19, 2007


rogue nation
insane fundamentalist dictator
WMD

regime change

wha....? oh sorry wrong country
posted by infini at 8:41 AM on May 20, 2007


This report turns out to be completely bogus. The supposedly secret document claimed to have been found wasn't actually secret.

You can read it here, if you want.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:01 AM on May 21, 2007


Money From Iraq Is Funding Al Qaeda Resurgence In Pakistan
posted by homunculus at 11:38 AM on May 21, 2007


Defenders of the faith, lift your heads up. The chosen one has been redeemed and all acts restored to their full faith and credibility. For we have word that

This report turns out to be completely bogus.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:42 PM on May 21, 2007


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