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May 28, 2007

US Embassy In Iraq Confirms Text of Memo Is Real

See Update V. Chad contacted the embassy and they say the notice itself is legitimate. I don't know if that means the PDF circulating around on the left is actually real, or, as it still seems to me, a mock-up using a hummel figurine as the US State Department logo.

Finally someone who is putatively on site in Baghdad says don't go to far on this the memo is real, and someone else (me) says I emailed the embassy this memo is real and I gave the e-mail to Ace for verification and it comes down to - well this is a disinformation operation.

Here is the email. I pulled my identifying info but that's all. Like I said Ace has a forwarded copy so he can verify it via headers or whatever.

From: Baghdad, Press Office [mailto:BaghdadPressOffice@state.gov]
Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2007 11:09 PM
To: Chad
Subject: RE: Question regarding a Washington Post story

Hi Chad,

These are great questions.

In short, the term “US Mission-Iraq” is how the military here generally refers to us; however, we at the Embassy simply call ourselves “the US Embassy” or, for the actual real estate on which we sit, “the Embassy compound.” As for the food-shortage notice, yes, it was a legitimate notice; however, food convoys have since begun to come in and we’re gradually getting back to normal.

Thanks for asking!

BAGHDAD PRESS OFFICE
U.S. Embassy, Baghdad
Email: BaghdadfPressOffice@state.gov
Web: http://iraq.usembassy.gov

The Black Republican offered a theory as to why a simple email was converted into a MS Word document (with hummel figurine logo), then converted into a pdf two days later:

Use of an eagle figurine is confusing. Why bother with it when your unit already has its own letterhead? Why even both making a .pdf when a simple e-mail message would do the trick?

Thank you, Dave - you've solved the mystery of the differing dates and differing file formats.

Col. Lang posted the document as a Word .DOC on 23 May, but the .DOC itself was created the same day as the date of the memo - 21 May. Whoever created the PDF took the same file Lang has (from the same or a similar source, or from his site) and used Word to convert it to PDF.

Why? Because the MS Word .DOC is an insecure file format commonly used to transmit worms. Only an idiot sends a Word .DOC over the Internet as an attachment. (And only an idiot opens a Word .DOC he finds on the Internet, but I decided to take one for the team on this.) The person who created the PDF was either unwilling or unable to transmit the .DOC (some networks are properly configured to prevent their transmission).

Now.... who would be sending that email with the PDF attached, and to whom?

Any bets that the WaPo server is configured not to accept .DOC files?

While Gleen Grenwald is crying vindication, it seems to me he's jumping the gun a bit. For one thing, among the possibilities I mentioned was that there was in fact a real memo, but the "memo" being circulated was not the actual memo itself, but a Microsoft Word created facsimile. I didn't want that to be the case -- I was hoping for full snookerage of the WaPo just for the embarrassment -- but it's a a little childish of Gleen to pretend that I denied that could be the case.

If it the memo is entirely real, well, I guess the US Embassy in Iraq apparently has difficulty finding its official logo, used hundreds of times per day, and must sometimes resort to doing searches for "American Eagle flag" and finding clip-art on amateur websites. That didn't seem to be a likely possibility to me, but who knows, maybe it's true.

Thanks to Chad for actually contacting the US Embassy.

Incidentally, Gleen claims that the right is just too unwilling to accept any bad news out of Iraq, thus causing us to go snipe hunting for forgeries.

That's silly. Even as I posted this I noted the WaPo had confirmed the basics of a delay in food delivery -- in fact, every tip I sent out to bloggers contained the words "Caution on Story" and the first lines stated, "The WaPo has confirmed the basics of convoy deliveries," while going to to suggest the memo itself circulated among the left was a fake.

My basis for thinking the PDF was fake was most assuredly not that I doubted there were delays in food transport -- in fact, I wrote (as others noted) such delays were commonplace, hardly rating a mention. My basis for thinking the PDF was fake is that it looked fake as all-get out, and that the "US State Department Logo" looked suspiciously, at first glance, like a Hummel figurine, a suspicion confirmed with a bit of Googling.

The fact is that the delays in food delivery were restricted to perishible fruits and vegetables, and even the WaPo article noted, grudgingly, in an update from an embassy staffer, that trucks had now arrived and were unloading food as he wrote. And now the convoy delay is entirely over. Like the initial quagmire in the Iraq invasion due to a sandstorm that lasted 24 hours, a short delay here (also due partly to weather) has been ginned up into an emergency threatening our troops' very lifeline of food.

For what it's worth, I still think the actual PDF is fake, as in "not the original, but reconstructed to look like the original." I really don't think that staffers in Iraq have to go looking on the Internet for State Department Logo Subsitutes.

The Left and the Media: Despite the left's frequent posturings as being deeply suspicious of "the rightwing media," it does seem that they're willing to accept anything from the media as presumptively accurate -- so long, of course, as it suggests doom and debacle for the US military. Even when a PDF is circulated the looks highly suspect -- including a cheesy hummel figurine eagle-and-flag as the official US State Department logo -- they seem to have absolutely no skepticism whatsoever.

Gleen is, of course, highly skeptical of any media stories suggesting the US military is improving the situation in Iraq. He fulsomely railed against Joel Klein for daring to report that Sunnis were uniting in Anbar against Al Qaeda and cooperating with the Americans in this effort, despite the fact that this has been reported by a welter of sources, including liberal-seal-of-approval CNN.

Did Joel Klein's report on the stabilization of Iraq include a bright, shining indicum of fraulence, such as a hummel figurine of an eagle? Of course not. Gleen simply rejected the story as being based on "anonymous sources" because he did not want to believe it. Despite the fact that many sources for this fact are not at all anonymous, including embedded journalist Michael Yon.

Gleen Wilson McEllensberg writes an awful lot about unhinged partisans refusing to accept any reportage that undermines their slapdash hyperpoliticized metanarrative; but, as they say, projection isn't just a river in Egypt.


Who Created The PDF? Apparently it was Parvaz Khan (khanp as the PDF cals him), a Human Resources Officer in the Embassy, says a source.

This source writes:

Why would the Human Resources Officer be involved with this matter?

...

Why were there two people, Khan and Martin, working on such a simple memo and not the actual people listed in the memo as having drafted and approved it?
And why was Lang leaked the Word document (created by Khan and last saved by Martin), while Johnson was given the PDF done by Khan?

And for the love of all that is good, why in the world were they using that damn figurine picture as a logo?

The bottom line here is that someone, possibly Khan, tried to stir up a controversy by leaking a mundane notice about what was eventually a non-existent delay in food supplies, and perhaps tried to dress up a fairly standard email that was sent around as a "memo".

I think most of you use email as part of your job every single day, and the prospect of the US Embassy in Iraq sending around Microsoft Word documents as email seems fairly ridiculous.

That there was a memo seems indisputable. What is considerably more disputable is that the silly-looking PDF circulated to the left is the actual memo. What it appears to be is a mock-up of an email, put into dumb-looking PDF format (with hummel figurine!), in order to gin up interest in the story.


Why were they using the silly hummel eagle as a logo? I'd guess because Parvaz Khan drafted this PDF from his home computer, where, presumably, he didn't have the actual State Department logo easily available as .jpg.

Seixon adds:

My editorial opinion is that someone decided to dress up a mundane email about possible food problems (that, by the way, never materialized) as a more scary-looking official memo.

Johnson jumped all over this as some sort of major deal that General Petraeus needed to apologize to his troops for, when in the end, it was a whole lot of nothing. That is the bottom line here.

Not to mention that the figurine-as-logo just reeks fake, and that the US military Public Affairs Officer in Baghdad said that the memo as presented by Johnson was a phony.

Indeed.


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posted by Ace at 07:06 PM

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