Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Musings: Liar, Liar

The mock orange was intoxicating, infusing my entire house this morning with its sweet, spicy scent and offering a pleasant contrast to the distinctively malodorous smell of the garbage truck, which was wheezing and oozing its way down the street when Koko and I set out walking.

The sky was filled with feathery wisps of gray clouds that suddenly found themselves contrasted, as were the utility lines, against a background of fiery red that lasted just minutes — long enough for my mind, as it does at times, to dredge up an old childhood rhyme: “Liar, liar, pants on fire, hanging on a telephone wire...”

I’ve known a number of liars in my time, and invariably came to the same conclusion: no matter how much I liked them, or wanted to think they were telling the truth, sooner or later I was forced, for the sake of my own sanity, and even safety, to stop believing what they said.

Yet for some reason, the Bush-Cheney administration keeps managing to regain our trust, whereupon it tells more lies. Think back to those giant whoppers about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction and providing material aid to al- Qaeda. Both claims have been proven false, yet they were stated often enough that among the ill-informed they're still accepted as true.

Then there was the anthrax scare following 9-11 that killed five people, sickened 17 others and paralyzed the nation’s mail service. Larry Geller over at Disappeared News has been following the most recent news on this, as has Democracy Now! and Salon.com, among others.

As Democracy Now! reports, Sen. John McCain and Bush both initially tried to link Iraq to the anthrax, and “White House officials repeatedly pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by al-Qaeda.”

Of course, it has since become clear that this wasn’t the case at all. As Greenwald writes, following last week's reported suicide of Bruce Ivins, one of the nation’s top experts on the military use of anthrax.:

We now know — we knew even before news of Ivins' suicide last night, and know especially in light of it — that the anthrax attacks didn't come from Iraq or any foreign government at all. It came from our own Government's scientist, from the top Army bioweapons research laboratory. More significantly, the false reports linking anthrax to Iraq also came from the U.S. Government — from people with some type of significant links to the same facility responsible for the attacks themselves.

Even the reports that Ivins was about to be indicted appear to be trumped up, with Greenwald noting during an interview yesterday on Democracy Now! that various FBI investigators are now saying that the evidence they have against Ivins is, quote, “entirely circumstantial.” As you may recall, the investigation initially focused on Steven Hatfill, Ivins’ onetime colleague, but that was obviously bogus because the Justice Department this past June settled with Hatfill for $5.82 million.

What, you think it’s far-fetched that our government might have planted anthrax and then tried to blame it on Iraq in order to ratchet up the public’s fear and build support for invading that sovereign nation? Then you need to go back and read some history, or skip right to the present and peruse Seymour Hersch’s New Yorker article on the Administration’s ongoing attempts to provoke a war with Iran.

In an interview at the Campus Progress journalism conference last week, Hersch noted:

There was a dozen ideas proffered on how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was, why don’t we build—we, in our shipyard—build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats, put Navy Seals on them with a lot of arms, and, the next time one of our boats goes through the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives. And it was rejected, because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. But that’s the kind of—that’s the level of stuff we are talking about: provocation. But that was rejected.

Why does the government come up with this kind of crap? Because it works. Remember the incident in the Strait of Hormuz this past January when Iranian patrol boats supposedly made aggressive moves toward three Navy warships — an incident that was later found to be a bunch of hype? As Hersh reports:

But a lesson was learned in the incident: The public had supported the idea of retaliation, and was even asking why the U.S. didn’t do more.

I puzzle over this Pavlovian response. Is it due to Americans’ stupidity, vengefulness or ignorance? Or is it because so many feed on a steady diet of right-wing radio propaganda that seizes upon something, no matter if it’s false, and keeps trumpeting it until people think it’s true?

I’m not sure what’s worse: that the Bush-Cheney administration engages in such blatantly dangerous lies or that the American people believe the bullshit or that the mainstream media and Congress go along with the various frauds.

No matter how you look at it, it’s not in any way reassuring. When I was kid, we used to end the rhyme of “Liar, liar, pants on fire, hanging on a telephone wire!” with the words “and then along came a birdie and pecked out your eyes,” because even at that young age we knew that if you regularly lie, you become blinded to the truth. And surely, that’s not how we want the guys who have access to the red phone to be.


Anonymous said...

> I’m not sure what’s worse: that the Bush-Cheney administration engages in such blatantly dangerous lies or that the American people believe the bullshit or that the mainstream media and Congress go along with the various frauds. <

It's the latter. A country that is too comfortable to demand truth of its leaders, too apathetic to find truth for itself, and too self-righteous to hear truth even when it's found, is a mob of nationalists awaiting being led to war.

Or as Democratic political consultant and CNN pundit Hank Sheinkopf said the other day, "We're reliving 1931... People are asleep."

Andy Parx said...

Ha- I had just finished reading the democracy now transcript and was thinking of writing on it before I saw your post Joan

The key in these finding the flaming pants in these government plans and plots- and figuring out if they are just the ratings of conspiracy nuts or not- is whether first, they are small enough to be done with a small number of people and two whether it’s possible for those doing the deed to all be the types who would never talk. When a bunch of civilians would have had to be involved it’s usually bogus.

That’s because of the third element – time. When enough time goes by and despite a lot of professional investigative digging no one finds anything but the original supposition and the rumors about the rumors you can see the folly of the conspiracy theory.

The “build four boats” is silly. Someone in a position to know- those who built the boats- would talk somewhere. That’s why we do find out about many if not most of the far fetched blunderous government schemes like the Castro assassinations, the aid to the contra etc. We always look at them and ask “how did they think they could get way with that” once it begins to unravel.

That’s why the “explosives blew up the world trade center” is so absurd. But the anthrax thing may not be bogus. Conceivably it could have been done by one or two persons and using only CIA types- and I’m sure the CIA can get anthrax without anyone knowing. Time could tell here but it might not if the number of people was small enough so there’s no “civilians” involved.

Katy said...

What is more important than "who dunnit" is "why dunnit." These incidents are political - they serve the purposes of some kind of political and economic interests.

Why would elites in our system be interested in creating a link between Anthrax, 9-11, and Saddam Hussein?

What purpose does it serve to have a population in a state of fear? Does it make it easier to impose drastic measures like war, the Patriot Act, further consolidation of resources in the hands of the few?