WikiLeaks, WMDs, And Iran

Lynch connects them:

This use of the WikiLeaks documents brings back some old memories, of a long time ago (March 2006) in a galaxy far far away when the Pentagon posted a massive set of captured Iraqi documents on the internet without context. Analysts dived into them, mostly searching for a smoking gun on Iraqi WMD or ties to al-Qaeda. The right-wing blogs and magazines ran with a series of breathless announcements that something had been found proving one case or another. Each finding would dissolve when put into context or subjected to scrutiny, and at the end it only further confirmed the consensus (outside of the fever swamps, at least) that there had been no significant ties between Saddam and al-Qaeda. But the cumulative effect of each "revelation", even if subsequently discredited, probably fueled the conviction that such ties had existed and did help maintain support for the Iraq war among the faithful. The parallel isn't exact -- in this case, there actually is something real there, and these documents were released against the government's will -- but it does raise some flags about how such documents can be used and misused in the public debate.

That experience is something to remember when an "Iranian ties to al-Qaeda" claim, loosely backed by reference to these documents, enters into the argument to attack Iran which I expect to heat up in the coming few months.