Thursday, September 06, 2007

THE CHEMICAL GAS VIALS AT THE UN: WHAT NERVE (CRACK VIALS & MALT LIQUOR)

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days. -President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speaking before Congress in his inaugral address, March 4th, 1933.

The United Nations Offices, New York City--One of the cardinal sins of journalism is to report a rumor as a fact (like Anderson Cooper in at the Super Dome in New Orleans). Yes, I feel so much better that the vial they found contained no chemical gases or nerve-agents, certainly. Today's news tells us it was a 'non-toxic solvent.' Great. Let's see: every time the president's ratings are incredibly-low, and/or when he and his party--the GOP--take a couple big-hits (like with Sen. Larry E. Craig cruising for ass, and the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales), we suddenly get all these warnings and phony stories about there being a 'bomb,' or a 'vial' of 'nerve-agents' somewhere in the continental United States. OK, and the UK and Germany as well.

It's a scam, a lie, and it's meant to create the impression that there are all these sundry terrorist-attacks occurring when there aren't any reportable ones to reap some political gain on. I mean really, if there was a real plot that was foiled, you wouldn't want to go public and tip-off the bad guys, right? Logic would dictate that, so you concoct some dopey, phony ones to reap the rewards anyway--especially when the locals (the public) are getting restless over your obvious criminality. When you have no agenda, and when you've alienated almost everyone, you turn to the 'outside-threat' just as you did when it still worked. This is playing into-the-hands of the law of diminishing returns, and it's George W. Bush's curse, his lodestone. Well, OK...demon-alcohol is as well.

A substance found at a U.N. weapons inspectors' office last month and suspected of being a chemical warfare agent appears to be a nontoxic solvent, a U.N. official said Thursday. The material was found Aug. 24 at a U.N. office in midtown Manhattan in inventory files with a label that indicated it could be phosgene, a chemical substance used in World War I weapons. It had been in the files for 11 years and was only identified when officials checked the inventory number against the many records in the vast archives. (AP, 09.06.2007)

That's right, it wasn't even something like WWI poisonous-gas, just a non-toxic solvent that had been there for 11-years, undetected. The question is: who created the escalation of this story into something it clearly wasn't? The FBI has a long history of leaks to the press, the majority-of-which have been extremely unethical. Did that happen here? Why was the press so credulous (again)? You won't be finding any of these answers in today's coverage, it's not a topic for discussion in the public dialog.

What posessed someone to think that an 11-year-old vial labeled 'phosogene' (the WWI gas) was really 'nerve gas'? It seems someone wanted to believe very badly, but whom? AP reported this around August 30th, when the story was beginning to break:

The State Department said it had learned of the discovery late Wednesday and had immediately contacted the FBI to deal with the disposal. Deputy spokesman Tom Casey also said a joint U.S.-U.N. investigation would be made into why the samples had been stored in the office but stressed that the chemicals had been there for at least a decade and did not pose any health risk. "One of the things we want to do is make sure that the U.N., working with the FBI, does conduct a full investigation of this, so we're absolutely certain how they in fact got there, how long they were there, and the kind of exact nature of how this came about," he told reporters. "There is no threat that these items currently or in the past have posed to public health and safety in the area," Casey said. (AP, 08.30.2007)

So why the 'NERVE GAS! NERVE GAS! NERVE GAS!' headlines everywhere? Because of ABC News. They are the original journalistic source of the misreporting. It appears the source could be one Brian Ross from ABC's 'The Blotter' site. It was corrected, and here's some of the text, though it doesn't appear to be there anymore on the original site (could be cached):

CORRECTION: Phosgene isn't a "nerve gas," but rather a "choking agent." It was used in WWI combined with chlorine gas. I posted the article from ABC News, and apologize for the error. I'm leaving the title of the post unchanged for continuity's sake.

United Nations weapons inspectors discovered six to eight vials of a dangerous nerve gas, phosgene, as they were cleaning out offices at a U.N. building in New York this morning, federal authorities tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com. The federal authorities said the office, in a U.N. building near headquarters, was being evacuated and the White House had been notified at 10 a.m. New York police and fire officials reported to the scene around 12:15 this afternoon.
(Note: page has been edited. http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/08/nerve-gas-scare.html)

That's great that they corrected it, but the story still had an effect that could have been calculated. Dan Rather loses his job over copies of George W. Bush's Air Guard records (of which all of the information found in them was confirmed by the original secretary as the same), but this alarmism gets a shrug. It's all a very questionable and curious situation. At-minimum, it's a shoddy approach to journalism that anyone could notice within a few moments. Little-known 'fact': the White House was informed at 10:00 am Eastern Time, according to media sources. But what of the fact that the State Department knew on Wednesday? Are they the source of the contention that the vials contained 'nerve gas', or is it the White House? Both? We should be finding this one out, but the press doesn't like losing access or asking solid questions of this administration. This may as well have been in the vial: Crack.

AP today: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070906/ap_on_re_us/un_chemical_agent;_ylt=AutvEJRHmo7ekah7AbHN5hFH2ocA

AP, 08.30.2007 (compare-and-contrast): http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=nation_world&id=5618353

Wizbang's Jim Addison with the original ABC correction statement of 08.30.2007: http://wizbangblog.com/content/2007/08/30/nerve-gas-found-at-un.php