Has Joshua Foust contracted syphilis from prostitutes in the Dominican Republic? It only seems fair to ask this since he, in finest Peggy Noonan evidence-free fashion, has seen fit to type the following bit of speculation, in an article titled “Has Wikileaks Been Infiltrated by Russian Spies?”, that could very well have come from the keyboard of someone in the mind-chewing grip of end-stage syphilitic paresis:
It might sound strange, but has Wikileaks been infiltrated by Russia’s Federal Security Bureau, the post-Soviet successor to the KGB? Based on media accounts and first person testimonies, there are signs that Edward Snowden’s flight to Russia, eventually seeking asylum there, was organized by Russian intelligence. So was his defection a Russian intel op?
Answering that question can be difficult — after all, none of the parties involved would simply announce such a thing. Moreover, Snowden seems to have made the decision to leak his cache of documents independently of any sympathy with Russia. Nevertheless, the chain of events leading up to Snowden’s flight, and his decision in Hong Kong to flee to Russia, of all places, strongly suggest that Russian intel has co-opted him to a remarkable degree.
And on and on in this vein for several insinuation-heavy paragraphs straight out of the Howard Kurtz Handbook for Insinuatory and Twisted Writing.
Persons familiar with the RationalWiki will recognize Foust’s gambit at once. They know it as “JAQing off”: “JAQing off is the act of spouting accusations while hiding behind the claim that one is ‘Just Asking Questions.’ The strategy is to keep asking leading questions in an attempt to influence listeners’ views; the term is derived from the frequent claim by the questioner that they are “just asking questions,” albeit in a manner much the same as political push polls.”
What’s particularly humorous, or infuriating, depending on your viewpoint, is the little tacked-on disclaimer that ran after this exercise in Noonanism, dolphinlike in its delights, had been up and published long enough to attract some stingingly factual critiques:
This story has been revised slightly to emphasize that our assertions are conjecture.
But the assertions, including the one in the header, are left intact.