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December 03, 2007

A Lie IS a Lie
Posted by Michael Cohen

Over the last week or so Karl Rove has been lying about the 2002 Congressional vote on the Iraq War. As the Washington Post reported yesterday Rove is claiming that it was Congress not President Bush that pushed for a vote on authorizing the Iraq War before the 2002 midterm elections. Why you may ask?

Because we didn't think it belonged within the confines of the election. There was an election coming up within a matter of weeks. We thought it made it too political.

As you stop laughing at the notion of Karl Rove saying "we thought it made it too political" consider the words of number one Bush sycophant Ari Fleischer when informed of this  Whopper.

Ari Fleischer: "It was definitely the Bush administration that set it in motion and determined the timing, not the Congress," he said. "I think Karl in this instance just has his facts wrong."

The article even featured quotes from President Bush calling for an early vote on authorization. So from all that information it seems pretty clear that Karl Rove is LYING . . . but you won't find those words in the Washington Post. Instead Peter Baker says Rove's "version of events" are "disputed," or he turns it into a partisan squabble by asserting that "Democrats accused him of rewriting history." The fact is, Democrats are accusing Rove of rewriting history . . . BECAUSE HE IS REWRITING HISTORY! Every piece of evidence mustered demonstrates that fact and yet Peter Baker and the Washington Post are reticent to say Rove is lying. Not surprisingly, Rove keeps repeating the same false assertion.

Now here's why this matters, today a New Intelligence Estimate was released indicating that Iran ended its nuclear program in 2003. What's more according to Gareth Porter's excellent reporting, this is not exactly news to the Bush Administration:

A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear programme, and thus make the document more supportive of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts of the process provided by participants to two former Central Intelligence Agency officers.

Yet, here's what Dick Cheney had to say about Iran a mere six weeks ago:


We have the inescapable reality of Iran's nuclear program; a program they claim is strictly for energy purposes, but which they have worked hard to conceal; a program carried out in complete defiance of the international community and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council.  Iran is pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons.  The world knows this.  The Security Council has twice imposed sanctions on Iran and called on the regime to cease enriching uranium.  Yet the regime continues to do so, and continues to practice delay and deception in an obvious attempt to buy time.  


The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences. The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message:  We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Now if one looks at the language of the NIE, one could theoretically argue that Cheney didn't directly lie here. For example, Iran's "civilian" nuclear program continues and yes Iraq was pursuing technology that could be used to develop nukes . . . but of course wasn't. And, the Administration has stated that they are not opposed to the development of a civilian nuclear program in Iran. However, this language about "present course" is pretty tough to explain away. And even if Cheney is not directly telling a lie, he is pretty clearly ignoring evidence put together by the nation's intelligence agencies that Iran has stopped its nuclear program. Sounds like a lie to me!

Here's President Bush at a press conference six weeks ago:

So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.  I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously . . . at some point in time, leaders or responsible folks inside of Iran may get tired of isolation and say, this isn't worth it.  And to me, it's worth the effort to keep the pressure on this government.

This is simply shameless. There was a NIE going around the Administration basically saying that international pressure was having the exact effect that the President was hinting at and yet here he is warning about World War III!

If these aren't lies, they are pretty damn close. And these are lies with pretty serious national security implications. But again, color me skeptical that news organization will describe these statement for exactly what they are. Of course, this is not the first time that the President or Vice President has made a bald-faced lie, my favorite being Bush's repeated assertions (never retracted) that Saddam kicked inspectors out of Iraq in 2003 - a juicy lie if there ever was one. Not to get overly partisan here, but the pattern of misstatements, untruths, falsehoods, exaggerations and lies from this Administration should hardly be a revelation to any political reporter.

I understand the importance of objectivity, but a LIE is a LIE and when political figures feel they can get away with lying ad not being held accountable, well guess what, they are going to keep doing it. Clearly Karl Rove doesn't feel chastened and what's worse our President and Vice President seem to have little fear of being called out for statements that if not lies are pretty obvious attempts to mislead the American people. Maybe a reporter could ask the President tomorrow that if he and the Veep were aware of the NIE, shouldn't the American people conclude that they were being "misled" by their elected leaders about the true threat from Iran's nuclear program.

I can't help but wonder if reporters made clear that they were going on the record calling these statements what they are (lies) politicians might think twice about making them. As Michael Cooper demonstrated last week - it really isn't that hard to do.


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Why should we believe that Iran EVER had a nuclear weapons program at all?


Iran NIE report: Are you lying now, or were you lying then?

If the 2005 NIE report was wrong when it claimed with "high confidence" that Iran had a active nuclear weapons program, why should the 2007 NIE be any more credible when it claims that Iran had a nuclear weapons program until 2003? If Iran really had a nuclear weapons program until 2003 as the new report claims, then why has the IAEA found no evidence of it?

I sent an email to Peter Baker at the WaPo suggesting that the public would be better served if he acted more like a journalist and less like he was taking dictation from a liar (Rove). I told him that it had taken me only a minute to find the facts in this case, so why couldn't he do it. To wit:

September 13, 2002:

Q Mr. President, thank you. Are you concerned that Democrats in Congress don't want a vote there until after U.N. action?

THE PRESIDENT: Democrats waiting for the U.N. to act? I can't imagine an elected United States -- elected member of the United States Senate or House of Representatives saying, I think I'm going to wait for the United Nations to make a decision. It seems like to me that if you're representing the United States, you ought to be making a decision on what's best for the United States. If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people -- say, vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.

And so I -- we'll see. My answer to the Congress is, they need to debate this issue and consult with us, and get the issue done as quickly as possible. It's in our national interests that we do so. I don't imagine Saddam Hussein sitting around, saying, gosh, I think I'm going to wait for some resolution. He's a threat that we must deal with as quickly as possible.

The Iraq Resolution was agreed to on October 2.

So much for trying to make this Congress's war. It remains Bush's war.

I know I've probably written this before, but if you're waiting for the media to describe actions of the other party's politicians using language that your own party's politicians won't touch you could be waiting a long time.

Every now and then it happens that the media makes your points for you. Only a fool would count on that, though.

We're always going to have these issues to deal with, and US citizens are much more often than not going to end up with the short end of the stick, so long as we have to live under the quasi-authoritarian structures of the postwar national security state.

Officials can only get away with lying as frequently as they do when they are in possession of mountains of vital information not available to the general public. It's not the lies that are the fundamental problem. Politicians are always driven to lie, and will do so to the extent that they can get away with it. The problem is that in a supposedly democratic country most of us have been successfully trained to think nothing of the fact that only the executive branch operates intelligence agencies, that these agencies all work ultimately for the president, and that the White House, the Defense Department and the entire Byzantine, executive branch Mukhabbarat is permitted by law to withhold much of what they know from the very people who are supposed to be governing themselves. Meanwhile, the public has nothing remotely similar to these agencies, whether in reach, clandestine capabilities, penetration or analytic skills. We just have the sorry "media".

The public shouldn't be in a position where it has to depend on the veracity, transparency or high-minded ideals of executive branch officials to stay informed. We need a people's intelligence agency that reports directly to Congress in open session, and issues voluminous reports on what it learns. And I'm not just talking about research of the kind conducted by the CRO. I mean honest to goodness intelligence. If the executive branch of government consistently knows more than the people do, then there is no way the people can hold on to their liberty, their capacity for self-governance or their ultimate sovereignty.

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