It takes a special skill to read bureaucratic memos. When I was getting ready to work at the State Department way back in the last century, Henry Kissinger gave me good advice:

The only reason to write a memo is if you want it leaked.

The key decisions and the real motives are very rarely written down; most of the time the truth is hidden. Deliberately. Remember the “vanished” 18 minutes of Nixon’s tapes?

And of course, the Brits did it elegantly (h/t Jeff Warren, video embedded above).

The memos have to be read — not as accurate reflections of a policy debate, but as posturing for instant history. It’s what the author(s) want(s) the journalists — working on deadline, and not very eager to dig deeply enough to figure out what was really going on — to write for their readers.

So, Roger L. Simon is right (he is always right) when he flags “the mystery of the missing video.” Somebody must have said to somebody else: “Hey! Let’s blame it on the video.”

I think I know when that happened, even if I don’t know who said it or to whom: it happened between versions two and three of the 12 draft memos. The first two talk about “attacks” that were  “spontaneously inspired” by events in Cairo. However, number three edits out “attacks” … and replaces it with “demonstrations.”

It took about five and one-half hours to get from “attacks” to “demonstrations.”