In at twist that would make the forensics guys who handed O.J. Simpson's DNA proud, there is a big problem with the "chain of evidence" of the Downing Street Memos. It seems they were "recreations."
Bizarrely, the AP did not make much of it, burying it in another story:
The eight memos -- all labeled "secret" or "confidential" -- were first obtained by British reporter Michael Smith, who has written about them in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.
Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.
The AP obtained copies of six of the memos (the other two have circulated widely). A senior British official who reviewed the copies said their content appeared authentic. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secret nature of the material.
Where have we heard this song before???
The memo's are so easily debunked (to anyone with a brain) it seems implausible that someone would do such a bad job of faking these memos... But we've heard that song before too.
Still when Raw Story starts defending them, you have to really think they are bogus.
"I first photocopied them to ensure they were on our paper and returned the originals, which were on government paper and therefore government property, to the source," he added.
The Butler Committee, a UK commission looking into WMD, has quoted the documents and accepted their authenticity, along with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Smith said all originals were destroyed in order to both protect the source and the journalist alike.
"It was these photocopies that I worked on, destroying them shortly before we went to press on Sept 17, 2004," he added. "Before we destroyed them the legal desk secretary typed the text up on an old fashioned typewriter."
The copying and re-typing were necessary because markings on the originals might have identified his source, Smith said.
I'm just not buying that. Why did he have to type them on an "old fashioned typewriter?" Why not type them in MS Word like the person who forged the Dan Rather Memo's did... Or what that the point? Regardless, a black sharpie and another trip thru the photocopier would protect the author's source's identity with far less effort.
And the increasingly irrelevant Editor and Publisher missed the fact these documents are now suspect too.
Bottom Line: When a single member of the less than reliable British press claims to have the goods on two Heads of State, you'll excuse me if I'm skeptical. This "evidence" would be tossed out of any court in the land in about 4 seconds.
Update:: Capt Ed has more
Update 2: John at Powerline makes the point I made above in a more pity way. If They Were Fakes, They'd Say More. Though I'd split a hair with him and say that if they were fakes, they'd say less. There was exculpatory evidence that would would not have been in a good forgery... Speaking of forgery, Capt Ed is dancing around with the definitions of Fakes and Forgeries.
Having said the above, both guys make valid points... But let me make a different one.
The usefulness of this information is now exactly zero. Let's, for the same of discussion, take the whole (increasingly bizarre) story at face value. He typed exact reproductions of the documents and they are word for word accurate. How do we know? One man's word?
What should be done with 2 heads of state with one man's word? Congressional hearings? Impeachment? All because some reporter can produce a type written paper and claim it was a copy of something important? Then if that is the case... Any reporter could claim anything and change history.
I could produce a typed paper saying Clinton took a bribe to give China "Most Favored Nation" status. Is someone going to throw Clinton in jail because Paul at Wizbang has a typed page? Silly.
Let's cut to the chase. The memos said nothing to begin with. The only reason the story got this far is that delusion liberals turned into some sort of left wing chain-mail. But even if they were the proverbial "smoking gun," absent some collaboration, bogus typed pages are worthless.