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Speaking of lies. David Corn's The Lies of George Bush; Joe Conason's Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth; Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right; Christopher and Robert Scheer's The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq; Paul Waldman's Fraud: The Strategy Behind the Bush Lies and Why the Media Didn't Tell You; Jerry Barrett's Big Bush Lies: The 20 Most Telling Lies of President George W. Bush. It's hard to keep up, isn't it?
It's usually not hard to tell when someone is blatantly lying if you have all the facts. But there are many kinds of lies. And it seems like we've seen the entire taxonomy of prevarication, pretense, coloring of the truth, affectation, duplicity, insincerity, hypocrisy, deliberate shallowness and moral turpitude, mealymouthedness, unctuousness, shedding of crocodile tears, pseudologicial mythomania, mendacity, exaggeration, spreading of canards, flimflammery, falsification or forgery of documents, propaganda and claptrap, varnishing of the truth, manipulation of the media, the cooking of books, adulteration of history, invention of excuses, Janus-faced hypocrisy, misleadership, distortion of the record, dishonest presentation of the facts, etc. in recent years.
If you're having a hard time sorting it all out, here's some help:
First, The Dictionary of Philosophy includes a list of everyday fallacies.
If that's too much detail, then use this short list produced by Democrats.com:
"It's sublime to watch Bush & Co. lie about something as simple as whether Bush went AWOL or not in 1972... When irrefutable proof emerges, the statements below will be exposed as pure lies. Of course, Bush & Co. are very skillful liars, so we have coded each lie as follows:
[LIE] Lie. An intentional statement of facts that are not true.
[SHL] Second Hand Lie. This technique involves quoting someone else telling a lie, so you can't be blamed for the lie.
[EVA] Evasion. This technique involves answering a question that is different from the one being asked.
[NDD] Non-denial denial. This technique involves simply saying 'no' without contradicting a single fact.
[CON] Condescension. This technique involves saying how 'sad' or 'pathetic' or 'desperate' it is that critics keep raising a question, without answering the question.
[PEA] Pre-emptive Attack. This technique involves calling your critics the most vile names, without citing a single fact to contradict the questions they raise."
Here's are two similar lie ladders that occur when someone has to shift their reasoning in order to defend a particular position.
First, Toxic Deception: How the Chemical Industry Manipulates Science, Bends the Law and Endangers Your Health, by Dan Fagin, Marianne Lavelle and the Center for Public Integrity includes this description by David Ozonoff of the series of defenses used by the asbestos industry (similar defensive lines are constructed by all the other industries responsible for killing and maiming workers, consumers and the environment, especially Tobacco, as explored in Stauber and Rampton's Trust Us, We're Experts):
Asbestos doesn't hurt your health.
OK, it does hurt your health, but it doesn't cause cancer.
OK, asbestos can cause cancer, but not our kind of asbestos.
OK, our kind of asbestos can cause cancer, bt not the kind this person got.
OK, our kind of asbestos can cause cancer, bt not at the doses to which this person was exposed.
OK, asbestos does cause cancer, and at this dosage, but this person got his disease from something else--like smoking.
OK, he was exposed to our asbestos and it did cause his cancer, bt we did not know about the danger when we exposed him.
OK, we knew about the danger wen we exposed him, bt the statute of limitations has run out.
OK, the statute of limitations hasn't run out, but if we're guilty we'll go out of business and everyone will be worse off.
OK, we'll agree to go out of business, but only if you let us keep part of our company intact, and only if you limit our liability for the harms we have caused.
(Note, Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown & Root unit filed for bankruptcy last month -- but it will still be allowed to soak U.S. taxpayers for contracts in Iraq.)
Now, compare the above to this list from Revolutionary Worker #1228, February 8, 2004):
The Amazing Shrinking Justification for War: They Insisted the Weapons Are There, It is worth reviewing for a moment the statements of U.S. government officials. It is worth remembering how arrogantly they made their claims.
Vice President Dick Cheney, opening the war drive, Aug. 26, 2002:
"Simply stated, there's no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction."
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Sept. 8, 2002:
"Saddam Hussein is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments into Iraq of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to nuclear weapons programs."
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Sept. 19, 2002:
Iraq has "amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin, and mustard gas."
George Bush, Sept. 28, 2002:
"The danger to our country is grave and growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes."
National Intelligence Estimate, released as Congress was debating granting Bush war powers to attack Iraq, Oct. 4, 2002
"Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons... including mustard, sarin, cyclosarin and VX... Most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.''
George Bush, Radio Address, Oct. 5, 2002:
"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons--the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."
George Bush, Cincinnati, Oct. 7, 2002:
"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof--the smoking gun--that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."
Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, Dec. 5, 2002:
"The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it."
Colin Powell, UN Speech, Feb. 5, 2003:
"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce many, many more. We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails."
"Numerous intelligence reports over the past decade, from sources inside Iraq, indicate that Saddam Hussein retains a covert force of up to a few dozen Scud variant ballistic missiles."
"Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agents... My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."
George Bush, delivering his pre-war ultimatum to Iraq, March 17, 2003:
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, March 18, 2003:
Any suggestion that Iraq had already destroyed its weapons was "palpably absurd."
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, during the first week of war, March 30, 2003:
"We know where [the WMD] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
Promising the Actual Weapons After the War
Richard L. Gonzales, head of Defense Department weapons specialist team, April 16, 2003:
"We're not going to find just a smoking gun, but a smoking cannon."
George Bush, May 3, 2003:
"We'll find them, and it's just going to be a matter of time to do so."
Congressman Dick Gephardt, then Democratic candidate for president:
"There is long, consistent, clear evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And I'm still convinced that we are going to find them."
Donald Rumsfeld, May 29, 2003:
"I can assure you that this war was not waged under any false pretext."
Vice President Cheney (NPR, Jan. 22, 2004, the day before Dr. Kay resigned) is asked if the U.S. government has given up on finding Iraqi WMDs. Cheney answers:
"No, we haven't."
Actual Weapons? They Aren't The Issue!
Within a month of the war, the U.S. government realized that there were no stockpiles of war ready weapons. So they kept insisting that the ongoing searches would justify the war--but suddenly were the U.S. war makers were "moving the goal posts." They weren't talking about weapons anymore--but programs, documents or whatever.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, May 16, 2003:
"We are flooding Iraq with inspectors who will look in every place that one can look in to find documents and to get evidence of their programs of weapons of mass destruction. And we're quite sure we'll find it."
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (from New York Times , May 3, 2003):
Iraq may only have " chemical precursors " of " a just-in-time inventory, a just-in-time assembly" process for potential chemical weapons.
International Herald Tribune , June 9, 2003:
"The latest vogue in Washington is the proposition that it really doesn't matter whether Saddam Hussein maintained an arsenal of unconventional weapons in recent years."
Senator John McCain, (from New York Times , June 4, 2003):
"The American people support what the president did whether we find those weapons or not."
George Bush, State of the Union speech, January 2004:
"We're seeking all the facts. Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities." After this speech, the world wondered out loud about Bush's Orwellian use of the concept "weapons-related program activity." What exactly is that?
Now President Bush argues the legal justification for war was not WMDs anyway (from New York Times , Jan. 30, 2004):
"On Tuesday Mr. Bush declared that the war was justified--under U.N. Resolution 1441, no less--because Saddam `did not let us in.' "