Thursday, December 01, 2005

Lying about the War

The War on the Press
The White House saw the battle for domestic popular opinion as one of the main fronts in the war in Iraq. With the help of a compliant media, truth became the first casualty in their campaign to whip up support.

Eight months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, top level British intelligence officers reported that the White House had told them that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed” to fit the administration’s aim of removing Saddam Hussein. This proved to be the pattern throughout the run-up to the war — during Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, in Condoleeza Rice’s congressional testimony, and throughout Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations about weapons of mass destruction — as officials manipulated and fabricated information to make their case.

Later, when this faulty intelligence was disputed, the administration chose to attack those reporting the truth rather than admit to their own lies and misinformation. As Frank Rich recently wrote in the New York Times, the administration’s “web of half-truths and falsehoods used to sell the war did not happen by accident; it was woven by design and then foisted on the public by a P.R. operation built expressly for that purpose in the White House.”

Among other things, this P.R. campaign involved:
  1. dressing up evidence provided by unreliable sources from within the Iraqi National Congress;
  2. concealing from Congress intelligence that disputed links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime; and
  3. exaggerating WMD claims made by a “mentally unstable” Iraqi defector.
As their deception begins to unravel before the public, Bush, Cheney and their White House colleagues have “stayed the course,” choosing to repeat past untruths in the hope that mainstream media will again err on the side of authority and present the administration’s lies unchallenged.

To read the rest of the report on the attacks against journalism, follow these links:

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