January 5, 2004
The Great Disconnect
easy to imagine an infinite number of situations where the government
might legitimately give out false information. It's an unfortunate
reality that the issuance of incomplete information and even misinformation
by government may sometimes be perceived as necessary to protect vital
The truth is easy. Lies are difficult. So, why choose the latter? Mr. Olson's statement referenced above is a chilling reminder of what government may be capable of doing. It is commonly understood that government deals in matters of grave national security not for public consumption. However, when leaders purposely choose to mislead a nation for politically ambitious reasons or for an agenda with which the citizens would not agree, all citizens should condemn those actions.
The definition of a lie is to present false information with the intent of deceiving or to convey a false image or impression. The synonyms for "lie" are just as unappealing. Fib is defined as an insignificant or childish lie. Prevaricate is defined as to stray from or evade the truth. Equivocate is defined as to avoid making a specific statement. The definition of "Big lie" is a repeated distortion of the truth, especially for propaganda purposes. Then there is a "white lie" defined as an often trivial, diplomatic, or well-intentioned untruth.
All of those definitions aptly fit the actions of the Bush administration, yet the public seems not to take them to task. The Republican Party makes excuse after excuse for Bush actions. Their hypocrisy is exposed through their actions against the previous administration and their lack of similar accountability for the Bush administration. There are many examples, but the most important relates to the war against Iraq.
On August 26, 2002 Dick Cheney said, "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
On Jan. 9, 2003 then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said, "We know for a fact there are weapons (of mass destruction) there."
On March 7, 2003 Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
On March 17, 2003, three days before the invasion of Iraq, President Bush said in an address to the nation: "There is no question we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical."
On March 30, 2003 Donald Rumsfeld said, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
Those are all quite definitive statements made to convince the American public that there was an urgent need to make a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, that there was an imminent danger. As time progressed and no WMDs were found, their statements changed in tone and conviction.
On May 4, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld said, "We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country."
On May 6, 2003 Bush said, "I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein – because he had a weapons program." (Notice the word program has been added.)
Recently Diane Sawyer pressed Bush about his administration's definitive statements that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction versus the possibility that he could acquire them. Mr. Bush responded, "What's the difference?" Well, Mr. Bush, there is a vast difference and everyone knows it, including you.
Then the administration shifted the focus from their original purpose justifying its attack on Iraq to one of a humanitarian purpose. If that were the true purpose, why did they not state that from the beginning? It was an obvious shift of strategy to avoid a continued discussion of weapons of mass destruction.
Remember that the definition of a lie is to present false information with the intent of deceiving or to convey a false image or impression. We now know that members of the Bush administration expressed a desire to tie the attacks of 9/11 to Saddam Hussein and justify a war against Iraq from the very beginning.
The Washington Post recently published a lengthy article regarding retired general, Anthony Zinni, who three years ago completed a tour as chief of the Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East, during which he oversaw enforcement of the two "no-fly" zones in Iraq and also conducted four days of punishing air strikes against that country in 1998. (1) In August 2002, Zinni was in attendance when Cheney made this statement: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."
From the article:
More from the article:
Zinni's opinion of the Iraqi war? From the article:
General Zinni's position on neoconservative ideologues appears to have been confirmed recently. The British press recently reported that Bush was sent a public manifesto from war hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran. (2)
The Bush administration has taken great pride in the capture of Saddam Hussein. Has his capture made America safer or calmed the Middle East? That is highly suspect, especially in light of recent events. The security alert has been raised to orange from yellow. Flights from foreign countries to the United States have been cancelled, delayed by searches, and escorted to safe landings. Iraqi insurgents continue to cause havoc and the deaths of American soldiers.
Another egregious affront to the American people and most especially the victims of the vile attacks on 9/11 is the effort by the Bush administration to delay and/or hinder a completely thorough investigation of the events of 9/11. Recently TIME magazine reported that Condoleezza Rice is not too keen on testifying before the 9/11 Commission. (3)
Why is the Bush administration not held accountable for their deceptive practices? There are three significant reasons. The first is the political skill of members of the Bush administration. The second is the lack of investigative reporting by the media. The third, and possibly the most significant, is the failure of the American people to investigate and understand the depth of the Bush administration deceptions.
There seems to be a great disconnect between what the public believes and what is actually happening. Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." We can only hope that Lincoln was correct and that the disconnect we are currently experiencing will resolve itself before November of this year.
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(1) Washington Post
(3) Time Magazine
Rebecca Knight is a native Tennessean, who grew up in Nashville, and currently resides in a small town near Nashville. Ms. Knight's political awareness evolved through the civil rights movement, the Vietnam era, the Watergate era, and the cold war. The debacle of the 2000 election increased her sense of responsibility for political activism. You may contact Rebecca Knight via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2003 by Rebecca Knight
otherwise noted, all original