Saturday, January 24, 2004

Lies and the Lying Vice Presidents Who Tell Them

I created this blog to write about health and safety issues and a little politics, but there are plenty of blogs that go much deeper into the screwed up politics of the country. But this story about our "leader" lying about Iraq is worth discussing though because the lying is becoming pathological and it has implications for everything the Bush administration touches.

Anyone listening to Morning Edition the other day may have been started out of their morning reveries when they heard Dick Cheney -- apparently with a straight face -- persist in claiming that we had found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that there was "overwhelming evidence" of strong links between Saddam Hussein and Al Queda. Unfortunately, the interviewer, Juan Williams, did not pursue the obvious lies with follow-up questions.

The Los Angeles Times did, however, follow-up on Cheney's lies:
  • "We've found a couple of semi-trailers at this point which we believe were in fact part of [a WMD] program," Cheney said. "I would deem that conclusive evidence, if you will, that he did in fact have programs for weapons of mass destruction."

    That view is at odds with the judgment of the government's lead weapons inspector, David Kay, who said in an interim report in October that "we have not yet been able to corroborate the existence of a mobile [biological weapons] production effort."

  • There's overwhelming evidence there was a connection between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi government," Cheney said in an interview on National Public Radio. "I am very confident that there was an established relationship there."

    That assertion appeared at odds with the recent words of other senior administration officials, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who said in an interview this month that he had "not seen smoking-gun, concrete evidence" of connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

  • Since the war, as the administration has sought to deflect charges that it exaggerated the Iraqi threat, Cheney has appeared reluctant to give ground. On occasion, this has created public relations problems for the White House.

    After Cheney implied in a television interview in September that Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush was forced to acknowledge days later that the administration "had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved" in Sept. 11.

    The White House had no comment Thursday on Cheney's remarks.
So , is Cheney dumb? Misinformed? No, according to Kevin Drum at CalPundit,
What he is is a vice president. And a smart politician. And he knows perfectly well that most people pay only vague attention to what they hear and pay no attention at all to the followups from serious reporters. Millions of people turned on the radio and heard Cheney say that we've found both WMD and al-Qaeda links, but only thousands read the LA Times and discovered that he's pretty much the only person who thinks so.

Net result: millions more people believe the WMD and al-Qaeda fantasies. Cheney's boss, of course, will never say anything this direct — even though he had a chance just three days ago — and if this heats up the White House will simply issue a low-key "explanation" of Cheney's remarks that will be published on page 23 of most major metro dailies.
This is a very smart, very deliberate strategy. Don't ever believe otherwise.
Let me repeat that one line: "most people pay only vague attention to what they hear and pay no attention at all to the followups from serious reporters." And not just about Iraq, they will lie about every important issue and we can't depend on the media to follow up or for people to notice the follow-ups. That leaves it up to you, who are reading this. You've been appointed to the truth squad. We've got about 10 months to get the truth out there. Go do it.