Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Li'l Scottie -- just making shit up as he goes along

It's both amusing and depressing to see White House spokesmonkey Scott McClellan just make stuff up out of thin air during yesterday's press gaggle. Watch how Scottie can't even remember what bogus number he just pulled out of his ass:

"... another nearly 163,000 tons of munitions have been secured and are on line to be destroyed ...
and nearly 163,000 munitions that are in the process or are awaiting to be destroyed now ... we've secured another nearly 163,000 that will be destroyed ... and have another nearly 363,000 on line to be destroyed ..."

163,000? 363,000? I guess it doesn't really make any difference when you're just making shit up, does it, since one totally bogus number is just as good as some other totally bogus number. All Scottie's doing is slinging around big numbers to try to minimize the emotional impact of "380 tons". And, apparently, the White House press corpse is bending over and taking it. But, wait. It gets better.

If you look closely, Scottie can't even keep his freaking units straight!

"... more than 243,000 tons of munitions ...
nearly 163,000 tons of munitions have been secured ... more than 243,000 tons ... more than 243,000 munitions ... nearly 163,000 munitions ... more than 243,000 munitions ... another nearly 163,000 ... more than 243,000 munitions ... another nearly 363,000 on line ..."

Is it munitions? Or is it tons of munitions? Yes, there's a difference. Technically, a single round of ammunition is considered a "munition", so there's one huge fucking difference between "munitions" and "tons of munitions". But, apparently, Scottie can't be bothered to keep any of his bullshit even vaguely consistent. So what's happening here? I'll tell you what's happening here.

I think Scottie is deliberately mixing up his units, to try to buffalo the WH press corpse. Given that the amount of stolen explosives is consistently described as "380 tons", if Scottie can get the press corpse thinking in terms of 163,000 tons or 243,000 tons or whatever number of tons, the 380 tons of HMX and RDX starts to seem like really small potatoes, no big deal, and everyone forgets about it. And if someone twigs to the inconsistency later on, well, you know exactly what's going to happen, "Oh, sorry, I must have misspoke." No harm, no foul, move on, no big story here. And why is this important?

It's because 380 tons of HMX or RDX is one massive pile of the stuff. That's 760,000 pounds! And given that it's estimated that just one pound of it was enough to blow Pan Am 103 out of the sky, it's not unreasonable to propose that 380 tons of the stuff is perhaps equivalent to 760,000 individual munitions, next to which Scottie's 163,000 or 243,000 or 363,000 munitions suddenly doesn't seem that big a deal anymore. Suddenly, it looks a lot worse to have spent months dealing with 363,000 munitions, only to have someone point out that thieves managed to walk away with about twice that much when you weren't looking.

So look for Scottie to keep milking this misrepresentation as long as no one calls him on it. And, trust me, very few of the press corpse are bright enough to figure this out.

CONSPIRACY THEORY #1: While this may be overly conspiratorial even for me, I'm going to be watching the official online transcript to see if there's a quiet change to Scottie's contradictions over the next few days. The White House has, more than once, quietly doctored those transcripts to remove embarrassing "misspeaks", so we'll see if they try to sneak one in here. And yes, yes, I do own a tin-foil hat.

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