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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nearly One Thousand Lies

Powell, Bush, Rumsfeld

Q Any reaction to that study out from the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, where they did what they called a count of hundreds of false statements made by the President and top administration officials regarding the threat posed by Iraq -- and they counted in the two years after 9/11 --

MS. PERINO: I have to think that the study [isn't] worth spending any time on -- it is so flawed in terms of taking anything into context or including -- they only looked at members of the administration, rather than looking at members of Congress or people around the world. Because as you'll remember, we were part of a broad coalition of countries that deposed a dictator based on a collective understanding of the intelligence.

And the other thing that that study fails to do is to say that after realizing that there was no WMD, as we thought as a collective body that there was, that this White House, the President set about to make reforms in the intelligence community to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

--White House Press Briefing with Press Secretary Dana Perino, 1/23/08

If you need a little break from the deadly seriousness of the war in Iraq and all the lies that led us there, follow that link to the press conference, and load the video. When Dana Perino speaks, look away from the screen and just listen -- she talks so fast and has such a squeaky voice that she sounds like a tape being played too fast. It's like a press conference with the fourth member of Alvin and The Chipmunks -- Dana, the over-caffeinated squirrel.

She talks so fast that not only don't you have time to ask a follow up question, but you don't even have time to fully comprehend what she just said and formulate a follow up question. Even the White House transcriptionist can't keep up -- I had to change an "is" to an "isn't." Perino fired that response off in about half a second and had called on someone else before the questioner even knew she'd finished her answer.

I suppose that's her superpower. Spin isn't really her skill. Her answer pegs my BS meter. She argues that, because a lot of people believed the lies the Bush administration told about Iraq, the Bush administration can't be blamed for believing the lies too. It takes a second to rewire your brain to accept that argument.

The study Perino speeds past at the speed of light is a study by the Center for Public Integrity. And, while the reporter said it was "a count of hundreds of false statements," it's actually 935 -- nearly one thousand lies by Bush administration officials about Iraq. Bonus fun, it's all collected in a searchable database.

With nearly one thousand entries in the database, Bush administration claims of "bad intelligence" die a slow and painful death. They didn't talk in terms of "we think," they spoke in terms of "we know." According to the study itself:

On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration's case for war.

Run the phrase "no doubt" through the database and it returns 46 hits. "Powell declined to elaborate on the extent of the options under consideration by the Bush administration. However, he said there is no doubt that Iraq is pursuing a nuclear weapons program," a State Dept. report read in February of 2002. "There should be no doubt in anybody's mind this man is thumbing his nose at the world, that he has gassed his own people, that he is trouble in his neighborhood, that he desires weapons of mass destruction," President Bush told reporters at an August 2002 press briefing.

But, in my brief spin through the query results, Dick Cheney takes the prize with "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

"No doubt" means exactly what it seems to mean -- "We know." But you can't "know" something that's not true. Where Bush administration officials claimed concrete knowledge of nonexistent "facts," they were lying. You can't spin it away. Simple logic dictates that you can believe something that's not true, but you can't know beyond doubt the truth of something that's not a fact. The record of these bushies speaking in concrete terms is proof enough of lies.

In fact, if you really need examples of an obvious out-and-out lies, then run a search on "we know."

We know he's been developing weapons of mass destruction.
--President Bush, prime-time address, October 11, 2001

I don't put it past Iraq. We know they have been working on this kind of terror weapon, and we keep a very close eye on them.
--Colin Powell, Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer, October 21, 2001

With respect to Iraq, the problem is quite simple. We suspect they're developing weapons of mass destruction. We more than suspect it; we know it.
--Colin Powell, Face the Nation, February 3, 2002

If that's not enough, on March 30, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld told ABC News that, not only were Iraqi WMD an undeniable fact, but he knew where to find them. "We know where they are," Rummy said. "They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." Either you know or you don't. You can't "know" what's not true, so all of these statements are obvious lies -- they didn't know. But that didn't stop them from saying they did.

And, when Perino says the study "only looked at members of the administration, rather than looking at members of Congress or people around the world," Perino's stretching logic. It's long been a contention that everyone had the same intelligence the Bush administration did, but that's just another lie. Seymour Hersch shot that one down with an October, 2003 piece in The New Yorker. The Bush administration was playing fast and loose with the facts and was breathing down the CIA's neck to do the same.

The Administration eventually got its way, a former C.I.A. official said. "The analysts at the C.I.A. were beaten down defending their assessments. And they blame George Tenet" -- the C.I.A. director -- "for not protecting them. I've never seen a government like this."

The administration was cherry-picking info -- whether or not is was any good -- that backed up its Iraq claims, while discarding info that suggested their claims were off-target. It was the cherry-picked info that was presented to Congress, the American people, and the world. The Bush administration didn't have the same intelligence everyone else did -- they had more. Raw data, without any analysis at all, was sent to the White House in a practice known as "stovepiping." It wasn't vetted, it wasn't verified, and a lot of it wasn't true. That's how Bush wound up making the easily debunked claim about yellowcake uranium from Niger. They didn't verify the truth of the claims, because they didn't care whether or not they were true. That much is obvious.

Again, logic dictates that this is deliberate lying. If you know that some of the info is untrue and offer it as truth, that's a lie. It doesn't matter if you don't know what exactly isn't so true, you know it's in there. Ignorance of the details is just a clumsy attempt at plausible deniability.

Of course, none of this is new. This is all public record. The database is just the first time someone's bothered to organize the lies in any manageable way. Despite the fact that these lies have led to literally thousands of deaths, all of these lying sacks are probably going to get away with it. Congress, led by the incredibly cowardly and inept Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can't be bothered to do a damned thing about this. After all, they've got their party to think of -- justice and the good of the nation can go screw off.

If that seems a little depressing to you, it is. But you can always cheer yourself up by listening to the chattering of Dana, the over-caffeinated squirrel.


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