In his latest effort Steyn complains about how the meanies at Media Watch asked him what checks he made to prove the validity of Bryant’s unlikely tale:
But Chantal explained that she’d checked out the show and that the Media Watch concept involves them accusing you of something, you emailing back your 15,000-word response and then they pick the infelicitously phrased seven-word throwaway subordinate clause and stick it up on screen, after which the host delivers a withering putdown.
And also putting up your 15,000 word response on their web site for
all to see. Of course, the real reason why Steyn hasn’t written
15,000 words on the checks he made of the validity of Bryant’s story
is that he didn’t do any. All he has offered to justify his use of
story is Able Danger and he didn’t know about that when he wrote the
story. This doesn’t seem to matter to the The
Australian—they don’t care whether the columns they publish are factual.
Steyn then claims that only argument that Media Watch had against him was:
But in the end their only point of factual disagreement boiled down
to a possible discrepancy in the timeline.
Well, no. There was also the fact that the 9/11 Commission, which had
a better chance to look at all the evidence than any of us, did not
find Bryant’s story credible.
a couple of days after the Media Watch broadcast, the news broke that
a US military data-mining operation claimed to have identified Atta as
part of an al-Qa’ida cell in Brooklyn well before he “officially”
landed at Newark on June 3. Since then, three of the 12 members of the
team have come forward publicly and the question of when precisely
Atta arrived in the US is now a topic of hot controversy. Media Watch
may go all goo-goo for the bland assurances of official reports but
there is simply no factual basis for the 9/11 commission’s chiselling
in granite of June 3 as the date of Atta’s first arrival.
Here is an important bit from the first
(way back on August 9) on Able Danger:
The official said the link to Brooklyn was meant as a term of art
rather than to be interpreted literally, saying that the unit had
produced no firm evidence linking the men to the borough of New York
City but that a computer analysis seeking to establish patterns in
links between the four men had found that “the software put them all
together in Brooklyn.”
Steyn is wrong to claim that the cell was located in Brooklyn. Able Danger did not find that Atta was in Brooklyn before June 2000.
In fact the official stated that they they had no firm evidence that he was in
Brooklyn. “Brooklyn cell” was just a name chosen because there was
some Brooklyn connection. Now, I don’t know whether Able Danger
identified Atta in early 2000. The troubling thing about the story at
the moment is that for all the talk about charts identifying him, none
of these charts or any other documentation has turned up. I’m
concerned that the team identified a terrorist cell in 2000, no action
was taken, and after 9/11 they convinced themselves that Atta was
identified when it was just someone with a similar name or appearance.
But as far as the Atta timeline goes, none of this matters since Able Danger has produced no evidence contradicting it.
Edward Jay Epstein explains that Able Danger used “open source material” and suggests a way that they could have identified Atta. But note that Able Danger didn’t have any information that wasn’t also available to the 9/11 Commission, so once again we see that it had no good evidence that Atta was in the US before June 2000.
Steyn then shares with us the earth-shattering news that it is possible to sneak into the US. Wow, who knew? What he doesn’t present, however, is any reason why Atta would do this. He had no trouble getting a US visa so there was no need for him to sneak into the country.
But my favourite bit is this claim:
The reality is that Bryant’s timeline has more supporting witnesses than the 9/11 commission’s.
The reality is that Bryant has one uncorroborated witness (herself) for her timeline, while 9/11 had many witnesses including Atta’s cell member Binalshibh.
After this latest shoddy effort from Steyn, Media Watch, which busted Steyn for falling for the story in the first place, has Steyn well in the running for the Jim Ball prize for media dupes. And if they ever introduce a blogger division of the prize, Tim “easily fooled” Blair is a shoo-in.
Update: Blair has added an update where he uses an out-of-context quote to claim that
Tim Lambert thinks “Abel Danger” is a person:
Abel Danger did not find that Atta was in Brooklyn before June 2000. In fact he stated that they had no firm evidence that he was in Brooklyn.
If Blair’s reading comprehension skills were any good he would have noticed that I consistently referred to the Able Danger team as “they”. The word “he” in the sentence Blair quotes refers to the official who was talking to Jehl about Able Danger. Blair’s response is characteristic of the unserious and superficial nature of his blog. He has no substantive comments on Bryant or Able Danger, just repeated assertions that Steyn is somehow correct and a lame attempt at point-scoring with an out-of-context quote.
Update 2: Blair has added another update—now his story is that he understood what I meant and all he was doing was mocking my “clumsy writing”. Even if this is true, it means that the sum total of his contribution to the discussion in five posts on Steyn and Bryant has been to discover a typo in the Media Watch transcript and some “clumsy writing” in one of my posts. Look up “superficial” in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of Blair.