Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Lie, Repeated Often Enough, ...

"Novak triggered one of the capital's most tangled investigations with a July 2003 column reporting that Plame had suggested sending her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, to Niger to investigate whether Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was trying to obtain nuclear material from that country -- an unsupported claim that was included in President Bush's State of the Union speech." (emphasis added).

That is from a Howard Kurtz column in the Washington Post today. The fact is that the claim was very well supported, even by the CIA that sent Joe Wilson to Niger and found his "evidence" to be worthless, but it is unsupported if the definition of unsupported is that Joe Wilson, international man of intrigue, doesn't agree. So it depends on the meaning of the word unsupported - and it is really unfair for us to assume that Kurtz would use it in the way the typical readers would define it. He's part of the free press, and in addition to divulging sensitive classified information, the other privilege that the free press enjoys is defining their own terms in an idiosyncratic fashion.

But not to belabor this point, this is a great example of repeating a claim (usually a simple one) so often in the face of all evidence to the contrary (usually complex)until a lie becomes a truth. Among the other lies, repeated ad infinitum, without any support, are these:

1) Bush (or his admin) claimed Iraq was responsible for 9/11 - never happened.
2) Bush (or his admin) claimed Iraq was an imminent threat - never happened, in fact on several occasions, they explicitly said Iraq was not an imminent threat.
3) Iraq and Al Queda had no ties whatsoever - there is a mountain of evidence suggesting otherwise. Not deep ties, granted, but not no ties, which is what is always claimed. In fact, the recent killing of Al Zarquawi mentioned without a sense of irony that he had been in Iraq since 2002, prior to our invasion.

I'm sure there are others. And these are only the factual claims. More problematic, and idiotic, are the pearls of "wisdom" divined from the uncanny ability of Bush-haters to read his mind:

1) Bush "misled" us about WMDs in Iraq. Apparently 10 good years of gathering bad and faulty intelligence, most of which pre-dated Bush, fall on Bush, who was able to convince nearly every Democratic senator at the time that the intelligence was accurate, even though he surely knew otherwise.
2) Bush wanted to avenge the assassination attempt on his father, and that is why he went to war.

Etc. Etc. As the old saying goes, a lie repeated ofen enough gains the semblance of truth.


Thank God for Zinadine Zidane, whose head butt of the Italian provided the only memorable moment from the soccer World Cup finals. This is the problem with soccer - a once every four year event can be decided by penalty kicks. In addition, the only two goals that happen in the game were the result of a penalty kick and a header off of a corner kick. No organic goal in 2 hours of play. Great athletes with great skills, no doubt, but when the rules of a game make it highly probable that it will be decided without one natural goal, why should we bother watching? I'd personally rather that they televise these games with the express intent of trying to capture on film all of the fights that break out in the stands among drunken Europeans, and make that the highlight of the coverage. Interview the guys after the fight, make a judgment on who won, etc. Short of that, all that we have to look forward to is a guy headbutting his opponent, and there seems to be all too little of that to justify the time.


Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Odd that many on the left want to hang the leakers in the Valerie Plame affair, but express no such outrage when the New York Times exposes two anti-terror programs (the phone call trails & the bank trails). The NY Times is probably Osama bin Laden's favorite newspaper.

9:28 AM  
Blogger pbryon said...

Odd that many on the left rant and rave about how immoral Bill Clinton and the selling of the Lincoln bedroom, but express no such outrage with David Safavanian, Jack Abramoff, or Scooter Libby.

To be honest, the level of partisanship these days is really starting to turn me off. And its on both sides of the aisle. I can't belive that I'm the only one.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

I express no outrage at David Safavanian since I've never heard of the dude.

Abramoff & Libby might be major players in DC but to Joe Sixpack they're nobodies. But Clinton, Kerry, Ted Kennedy--and Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld for that matter--like 'em or not, they're major players.

12:00 PM  
Blogger MajTJKingKong said...

You will enjoy this game.



2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatch, you didn't mention three of the biggest and most often repeated lies of all: that there is no dissent in the scientific community about the cause and effect of global warming; tax cuts unfairly hurt the poor; and Bush's tax cuts will blow a hole in the defecit. I can understand a level of partianship in politics, I just can't take the blod face lies both sides are willing to spew these days. No wonder I have such a big Chartreuse habit.

4:27 AM  
Blogger Pulvarizer said...

Well, by your own account, if Iraq was not 1) involved in taking part in events and conspiracies that culminated in 9/11, 2) an imminent threat to the U.S., and 3) establishing meaningful ties to Al Qaeda, beyond low level contacts, why did Bush order an invasion of Iraq in the first place? If the administration knew these statements and assertions to be false, then invasion should have been viewed by the administration as unnecessary at that point in time, because as you say, they didn't believe Iraq posed an imminent danger.

No, the administration used the term "grave and gathering danger" instead of imminent. Now who's using language in an idiosyncratic fashion?

Arguments put forth by people who still say invading Iraq was right and justified are squabbling over small details like these, while just about everyone else, and ultimately history, are and will be, focused on the big picture, namely, the invasion of Iraq was a colossal mistake. The war was unnecessary and incredibly moronic because Saddam 1) couldn't threaten Mr. Rogers neighborhood let alone the US, 2) could have been contained, even if he did have WMD, 3) brutal ethnic unrest, and the unlikely creation of a democratically elected government leading to a stable Iraq, were all publicly predicted before we went to war with Iraq by people who understand international politics, not by those who have "gut" feelings like Bush, or flawed ideological viewpoints, like Cheney, Wolfowitz and others. Who's committing the bigger sin, Howard Kurtz, or die hard supporters of an absurb and tragic war?

3:29 PM  
Blogger Hatcher said...


Hopefully you take no joy from the fact that every likely major Democratic candidate for president voted in favor of the Iraq war. Unlike the President, these Senators get to squawk and dismiss themselves for accountability, but what does that say about their judgment going forward when their judgment in the past has been, according to you, so fatally and obviously flawed? You can lay all the blame you see fit with Bush, but he had nearly universal backing at the time.

And, as you should know, it's a little early to be declaring the verdict of history.

The fact that you can say Saddam was a threat to no one is a product of Bush's success. 19 guys in 4 airplanes took at 3000 Americans in the span of hours. Give their 19 replacements, and their backers, access to some real weaponry, and my guess is that they can pretty well destroy Mr. Roger's neighborhood. Had we done nothing, the sanctions would have been lifted by a feckless and thoroughly bribed UN, and after another strike you'd be leaving a comment saying we should have seen this coming, and should have taken out Saddam. (not unlike Gore, who criticized Bush 1 for not finishing the job, and now finds us to be a totalitarian imperialistic nation).

We have no good choices - we only have bad and worse choices. It's easy to pretend there was a good choice, so that the one that was made appears to be an obvious worse choice, but that is really far from being clear.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Pulvarizer said...

So basically what you're saying is we had to invade Iraq, because some day, Saddam may have inflicted harm on US citizens. Then why haven't we invaded countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which currently pose real dangers to the US, based on the same preventive theory? Iran, Syria, and North Korea are active supporters of terrorism, adamantly oppose US interests, and in the case of Iran and N. Korea, have active WMD programs, namely nuclear. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, while allies in the context of realpolitik, turn blind eyes to large portions of their citizens who partake in anti-American activities and actively support terrorist organizations.

And no good choices? The same paths Bush is pursuing now with regard to Iran and North Korea, (1) patience, (2) gathering significant international support, (3) sanctions, and (4) supporting anti-Iranian groups and nations, were available to Bush with regard to Iraq after 9/11. Not to mention allowing the renewed WMD inspectors enough time to do their job. Surely you can’t say Iran appears to pose a lesser threat to US interest now than Iraq did pre-Gulf War II. So then why are we pursuing two very different strategies? The only difference is Bush wanted to appear tough on “terrorism,” so he quixotically invades Iraq.

The consequence of Bush/Cheney/Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld’s gut decision is the whole region has been thrown out of balance, as our two worst Middle East enemies, Iran and Syria, are playing larger and dangerous roles in internal Iraqi affairs due to the weak Iraqi government and low grade insurgencies. We needed a somewhat stable Iraq to counter balance Iran, but now Iran (and Syria) is filling the proverbial vacuum in Iraq, and further complicating a stable Middle East. History is filled with cases where countries with large and conflicting ethnic populations have been thrown into long term unrest. Bush and the gang thought democratizing Iraq would be like democratizing the Czech Republic (a fairly homogenous society) when it’s really like democratizing the old Yugoslavia (large and disparate ethnic groups vying for power). This is why I can say with a great deal of assurance that Iraq will not for a very long time become a stable democracy given the current administration’s plan (or lack thereof).

Yes, Democratic senators, some of whom may be running for president in 2008, voted in favor of the war resolution, and you're right, the American people need to assess their leadership and decision making (I certainly will). But they’ll be remembered as background actors in Bush’s tragedy, which I’m entitling “Bush and His Bumbling Band of Boobs.”

2:22 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Pulvarizer wrote,

"And no good choices? The same paths Bush is pursuing now with regard to Iran and North Korea, (1) patience, (2) gathering significant international support, (3) sanctions, and (4) supporting anti-Iranian groups and nations, were available to Bush with regard to Iraq after 9/11. Not to mention allowing the renewed WMD inspectors enough time to do their job."

Bush tried all of these things after Saddam violated 17 UN resolutions. He got all the results he was going to get without invading. If we'd stayed on this path, Saddam would still be in power.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Pulvarizer said...

Incredible Dirigible, and with Saddam still in power, how would that have presented any great threat to the US? I still don't get that point when it has been admitted now many times that 1) Saddam didn't pose an imminent threat, 2) didn't partake in 9/11 planning or support, and 3) wasn't meaningfully linked to Al Qaeda. Given all of these admissions, how was Saddam in power any real threat to the US? Even if he did have some WMDs, was he really going to use them on the US or its Mid East allies and insure his own destruction, especially given his humiliating defeat during the first Gulf War? In short, Saddam was containable, and while a nasty dictator to his own people, no threat to the US or its allies.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Just remember, Pulvarizer--in Oct/Nov 2001, when anthrax was traced to a few letters, it was all over CNN, MSNBC, etc 24 hours a day, & our nation was almost paralyzed. It doesn't take much to disrupt a country.

If everyone had information that Saddam was developing WMDs, & Bush did nothing, & we were subsequently attacked, I have no doubt that you & all the other Bush-haters would complain that Bush hadn't done enough to protect our country.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Pulvarizer said...

Incredible Dirigible,

You seem to be saying that it doesn't take much to cause short term chaos, and because it doesn't take much, then we have to take out those who threaten us before they can cause harm to us. I say this now, as I've said before (maybe less clearly) that Iran and North Korea pose greater threats to the US today than Iraq did in the months leading up to our invasion, with or without WMDs. Most who follow these countries are fairly certain North Korea and Iran are developing nuclear weapons, but we're not invading. Why, because as Hatcher notes, the costs outweight the benefits. Containment and the threat of mutually assured destruction worked during the Cold War, and I'm fairly certain it will work against Iran, North Korea, and yes, would have worked with Iraq.

So putting this into context, are you saying that 1) you're willing to gamble Iran and North Korea won't attack us, so no need to invade them, even though they're clearly developing nuclear weapons, are long term US adversaries, and I'd argue clearly greater threats now than Iraq was in 2002 and 2003 (thereby leading to the question, then why did we have to attack Iraq, as there was no evidence Iraq was an "imminent" threat), or 2) we should invade Iran and North Korea right now or sometime soon, as they pose a very real threat to the US (in which case you'll have to answer why you think we'll fare better with Iran, a much larger country in geography and population size, or North Korea, which has 3 million men in military uniform).

10:38 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

To tell you the truth, I really don't know what the best course of action is with Iran & North Korea, only that invasion should never be a first resort and that appeasement allows them to grow in power & ferocity.

You said, "Containment and the threat of mutually assured destruction worked during the Cold War, and I'm fairly certain it will work against Iran, North Korea, and yes, would have worked with Iraq." Did this philosphy prevent 9/11? Would it prevent future 9/11s?

12:44 PM  
Blogger Pulvarizer said...

Incredible Dirigible,

You're quite right in thinking containment and mutually assured destruction won't work against terrorist organizations. These strategic concepts work against nation states with leaders who 1) fear losing their grip on power and/or 2) fear causing wide spread destruction (which describes just about every nation state, including Saddam's Iraq).

But this gets to my ultimate point, and many other Bush administration critics' point. I fully supported our invasion of Afghanistan and our forcefully removing the Taliban. In fact, I wish we would have done it with greater force, and maybe, just maybe, we could have taken out Osama and his other top leadership. Osama and his terrorist connections were responsible for 9/11. Iraq wasn't, by the Administration's own admission. Then why did we invade a country that had nothing to do with the worst terrorist attack in US history, and posed no real threat to us, because, as I believe containment and MAD would have worked to keep Saddam from acting totally out of character. Invading Iraq has only increased the number of terrorists in the world, because the US is seen as acting in a grossly unfair manner (despite the US Senate and UN votes). We faced the Cold War with tremendous resolve and strategic patience (Vietnam being the obvious exception). Now, many of our most trusted allies have far less faith in us to deftly handle the post 9/11 world. Invading Iraq was not only wrong from a basic moral point of view, it has created more hatred towards the US among many Arabs and Muslims, which can only lead to more terrorism and uncertainty.

After thinking about all of the competing arguments that have gone back and forth, it sounds to me, and I may be wrong, that many Bush Administration supporters want a sense of certainty that terrorists attacks like 9/11 won't happen again. Their prescription for this certainty is the use of force against our enemies in the Middle East, no matter how tenuously linked these countries are to terrorist organizations. But my point is, we can't achieve certainty that we won't be attacked again, and, from a purely historical point of view (Northern Ireland, Israeli / Arab conflicts) using indiscriminant and overwhelming force which results in the death of thousands of innocent civilians dramatically increases the likelihood that the US will continue to be seriously threatened by another terrorist attack. I'm certainly not arguing that the use of force is never an option, as Afghanistan was fully justified. I also fully support the Bush Administration’s beefing up the size of our intelligence capabilities so we can locate, assess, and pre-empt future terrorist attacks (although I vehemently oppose the wiretapping and phone database initiatives, as they’re permanently taking away my civil liberties). But using force in such an indiscriminant manner against vague threats that don’t imminently threaten the US is a sure path to the US becoming the next Israel in terms of perpetually facing and fighting terrorism. I think we’ll all agree that is the worst possible outcome.

2:53 AM  

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