Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Monday, July 14, 2003
Scenario 1: the White House didn't lard its war justification with false info.
White House critics begin to question the Niger evidence in the State of the Union address. The President, aware that the evidence was dodgy, inquires privately about how it got into the speech. He learns that it was among the many claims made against Saddam Hussein, and was placed in there without careful fact-checking. President Bush holds a press conference, identifies the false information, and issues a retraction. He then goes on to detail how the rest of the evidence supported the invasion. He invites inquiry, going as far as to point out that this is an area in which trust in the government is critical. Takes responsibility, looks like a straight shooter, approval numbers spike.
Scenario 2: the White House had only speculative intelligence about Iraqi WMD, and made a false case based on the conviction that they'd discover suspected weapons.
White House critics begin to question the Niger evidence in the State of the Union address. The President, aware that this (and possibly much more) was false information, dissembles. He talks about the success of the war, blames his critics, parses the language in question (we said the intel was British, so we're off the hook). Others in the administration go on the attack, offering carefully crafted messages that cohere very closely (unlike their messages before the war). Members of the administration call the affair overblown, try to minimize it, and shrink away from external inquiry. White House obfuscation cause suspicion and declining trust and support, and the whole affair drags on for months.
Obviously, this is an exercise in logic and speculation. But if these examples seem unreasonable, try this: invert the lying/not lying scenarios and their narratives. Does it seem possible that all this obfuscation, parsing, and general shiftiness is arising from the embarrassment over an honest mistake?