Check out this report today from the Center for Public Integrity. It’s a systematic cataloging of the “false statements” made by Bush administration officials in the run up to the Iraq War. You can find lots of media coverage out there today on the study.
I haven’t had a chance to read the entire report, but from a quick scan, it is interesting how they call the focus of the report “false statements”, as opposed to “deceptions” or even flat-out “lies”. As a journalist, I can appreciate the difficulty in calling something a lie. A lie means that there was an intent to deceive – that the liar knew he or she was lying. But how do you prove that? No one can read minds, after all.
But as a citizen, I feel like I can say that the Bush administration lied, lied, and lied again to whip up support to go into Iraq. Okay, fine, it’s a sad but true fact that probably most (all?) politicians lie, but that said, it certainly matters what they lie about. They lied to push the nation into an unnecessary war, sacrificing other people’s children when they refused to serve themselves when their nation called, and depleted the country of resources necessary to fight the real enemy – Al Qaeda – and new crises, like the current economic meltdown that’s begun.
And let’s not forget the complicity of the national news media in adding to this push to war. Several, including “The New York Times” have published long analyses of and apologies for their credulous coverage. In fact, it was this colossal failure of the people at the supposed peak of my profession that contributed to my openly joining the progressive movement. As a citizen I saw that information will not set us free. Information needs a lot of help when it can be so well manipulated by power.
I don’t believe I’m usually so partisan in my posts, in the sense that I’m specifically calling out the Bush administration. But the Bush administration for me is not necessarily a Republican problem. It’s just the natural extension of the modern conservative movement. The conservative movement – with its radical views on national security, religion, and the economy – is the problem. And for a long time it hasn’t had any effective opposition. That’s why I support the growth of a strong, liberal progressive movement. Everything is riding on it.