Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, January 31, 2003  

Lie (v.i.): To utter falsehood with an intention to deceive; to say or do that which is intended to deceive another, when he has a right to know the truth, or when morality requires a just representation.

--Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

The question arises: when is it appropriate for the President to lie to the public?

Why does it arise? Because we have so many recent examples. In today's news alone, I've seen two articles that finger the President for outright lies and misuse of information; a third for stifling speech. And of course, there are the aluminum tubes, the tax cuts benefiting the "average citizen," lies about labor unions and more.

Today's reports involve--predictably--Iraq. In the first, Hans Blix calls Bush a liar. Follow the link to read the specific lies--there are three--but the upshot is this: he doesn't think a war is warranted and he's peeved that Bush is using his report to justify one.

The second report is far more disturbing. I haven't had a chance to roam the blogosphere today, but I'll be amazed if it isn't buzzing with news from the Times editorial asserting that Saddam didn't gas the Kurds. According to the author, Stephen C. Pelletiere (no random peacenik--a professor at the Army War College with access to classified material), the Kurds were caught in the crossfire between Iranian and Iraqi fighters and, based on analysis done of the dead, it appears more likely that Iranian gas killed the Kurds. In any case, the gas was employed during war. This is a very different story from the old "Saddam gassed his own people" saw. Furthermore, Pelletiere elaborates on the ulterior motive argument, adding water to the oil mix. It's absolutely shocking news.

Bush has never made a strong case for going to war against Iraq. He's argued two points--that Saddam's a very bad man and that Iraq's a "gathering danger." Most of the arguments he's made about the "gathering danger" have been questioned or proved to be lies. And so he was left with the moral argument, which no one has seen the need to refute. But this evidence (if true, always if true) throws even that into question.

It's always been the case that presidents lie. Sometimes it's necessary to protect the republic. In these cases, no one would argue the truth-at-any-cost line. Sometimes it's to cover up health problems or a seedy rendezvous. After eight years of blue dresses, I'm willing to let these go by, as well. But if the lies are to advance a secret agenda and subvert the intent of the constitution and undermine the republic, they are clearly the most dangerous threat to the US. One doesn't want to go too far on this, but even reasonable people are beginning to wonder about the constant stream of lies. I think it's time to start demanding answers about the President's intentions.

(On a more amusing note, Laura Bush's love affair with books may have hit a bump in the road. After inviting a group of poets to a White House symposium, she learned that they--shockingly--were not high on the whole dead Iraqi kids scenario. Turns out they were even going to use the event to voice their displeasure. Thus was the event scuttled.)

posted by Jeff | 11:02 AM |
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