Estado Islamico

I don’t know what possessed Arkansas Senate candidate Tom Cotton, reportedly a smart dude, to start yammering about Islamic State collaboration with Mexican drug cartels. But he and his staff should probably have just backed away from the craziness instead of offering WaPo fact-checker Glenn Kessler sources for the Estado Islamico “story.” Kessler traced it back to unsupported gossip appearing in the birther tribune World Net Daily, and authored by a truly reliable source:

The whole thing seems to have started with a highly speculative account on July 4 in WND, labeled an “exclusive” and titled: “New Border Risk: ISIS Ties to Mexican Drug Lords.” (ISIS and ISIL are other names for Islamic State.) The article quoted Michael Maloof, who it described as a former “top Defense Department analyst” and “expert on the Middle East….”

Who is Michael Maloof? He gained notoriety in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq as one of the key people involved in a DOD intelligence effort to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda and was likely to provide weapons of mass destruction to terror groups….

Maloof was later stripped of his security clearance after unauthorized contacts with a Lebanese American businessman who was under federal investigation for gun-running. His supporters claimed the action was politically motivated.

Maloof did not respond to an e-mail asking whether he had any evidence for his speculation about the Islamic State and drug cartels.

Perhaps Kevin Drum is right: this and similar is “stories” emerged spontaneously from the conservative zeitgeist and required no evidence. What are “facts” when it comes to the deeper truths of life?

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.