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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Let's Talk Conspiracy Theories!

I have sat out the entire excitement about "Salam Pax", the blogger from Baghdad. However, the plot has thickened irresistibly.

Steven Den Beste posts, wondering whether Salam, who last posted on March 24, was arrested in Manhattan on March 25. Mr. Den Beste links to an ABC account of the arrest, but the NY Times presents the information slightly differently:

A criminal complaint unsealed on Monday accused him of having secret contacts with Iraqi intelligence officers in New York beginning in January 2001 and of working on behalf of officers who wanted to track down Iraqis living in the United States, including dissidents and former government officials.

OK, so maybe this "Raed" mentioned in the Times was a double agent, or maybe not. But if his goal was to track down Iraqis living in the States who were unsympathetic to Saddam, a popular blog might be one way to get some names. The question of whether "Salam Pax" was a hoax always lost traction on the question of motive - I will let Insta-man be Everyman on this point:

I feel fairly confident that Salam's blog wasn't a government propaganda outlet for the U.S. or Iraqi governments -- or at least, that if it was one it wasn't a very good one, since it didn't really produce a lot of points for one side or another. Beyond that, who knows? Unless, of course, Salam turns up.

But did the blog produce any interesting contacts? The guy sure got Blogosphere Buzz, clocking in at #49 in the Bear Ecosystem.

So far I haven't moved much past the point made by Mr. Den Beste. However, my kicker - what is going on with with Diane Moon of Letter From Gotham? She was one of the first contacts and early boosters of Salam Pax, and recently chatted with the New Yorker about him. And here is recent news received by Glenn:

Diana Moon announces that due to problems at work, she must not only stop
blogging but take down her blog altogether. She will return to blogging as
soon as possible.

Hmm, problems at work,and now her blog is gone. Ms. Moon quit last fall, and tried to take down her old posts then, but reverse Blogger archive problems thwarted her. This time, her normal addresses return nothing, so she seems to be truly gone. But not forgotten, since Google caches everything. From her April archive we see on April 9 that she was re-thinking her blog due to what seem to be work-related issues (401 (k) and "landlord to pay" are my clues). However, this takedown does overlap with what we presume to be an active investigation of Raed.

Maybe it all means nothing. But maybe Ms. Gotham has been asked by the Feds to take down her blog to protect evidence, or witnesses, or something. A Bold Prediction - if the Google caches of her blog also mysteriously disappear, we have to presume Something Is Up.

Oh, and Full Disclaimer - I am a total fan of Ms. Gotham. That said, this speculation is purely my own. I have not made any attempt to double check this wild guess with her. And I am not suggesting she was also working with the Feds, or the Iraqis, or anyone at all.

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