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Lies and the Lying Liars That Wage War
October 17, 2003 7:50 AM   Subscribe

"Never before have so many stories been created to sell a war," says Sam Gardiner, author of a new report {.pdf, here's an html cache} that explains how the world was deceived.
posted by Domain Master 666 (35 comments total)

 
Somehow it seems Mr. Gardiner's truth doesn't match Murdoch's "fair and balanced" agenda very well. And to think that aWol promised to restore honor and integrity to the White House.
posted by nofundy at 7:57 AM on October 17, 2003


Actually, the world wasn't decieved, nobody outside of the US of A bought it.
posted by signal at 8:11 AM on October 17, 2003


Also mentioned on this somewhat related thread a couple days back. (Not to say it didn't deserve to have an FPP, I just didn't want to be the one to do it.)
posted by soyjoy at 8:20 AM on October 17, 2003


Crazy. And simple, really, if you think about it; you map out a strategy to subtly deceive a population that really doesn't have a whole lot of mental energy to spend on this sort of thing, that wants to trust its leadership to do the right thing and therefore only has to be convinced that it is the right thing.

We've seen the future, and it's full of shit.
posted by kgasmart at 8:24 AM on October 17, 2003


nobody outside of the US of A bought it.

Except Tony
posted by monkey closet at 8:25 AM on October 17, 2003


There are many of us who never bought into this amde up bullshit but Mr. Clueless (Steven Den Beste) and Little Green Snotballs and Andrew Sullivan and InstaCracker and (ad infinitum) were not among us.
posted by nofundy at 8:29 AM on October 17, 2003


At the time, there did seem to be some measure of evidence that Iraq did at one time have WMDs (having used them on the Kurds) and suspicion that Iraq certainly could still have WMDs (no real inspections for a couple years). That has subsequently been shown to have likely been horseshit, but at the time it was not entirely out of the realm of possibility as the benefits of hindsight might seem to indicate today.
posted by UncleFes at 8:49 AM on October 17, 2003


Likely horseshit ??
It was Grade A manure!
posted by ahimsakid at 9:04 AM on October 17, 2003


hindsight is, indeed, 20/20.
posted by UncleFes at 9:09 AM on October 17, 2003


And, although admittedly remote to the point of near-hilarity, the possibility *still* exists that some WMD might be found.

Stop that snickering! It could happen!
posted by UncleFes at 9:13 AM on October 17, 2003


You know, most Americans that I've talked to that supported the war didn't buy into the lies, either. They just wanted to kill "sand niggers". I can't tell you how many times I heard "nuke the whole thing, turn it into a parking lot". Of course now it's about saving the poor Iraqi people from a vicious dictator. That's right - the same people who advocated genocide suddenly care about those poor Iraqi's.
posted by 2sheets at 9:19 AM on October 17, 2003


UncleFes, I agree that "the possibility *still* exists that some WMD might be found," though I'll reiterate that even if they are, in amounts as described in the first months of this year, that *still* doesn't make unilateral pre-emption a valid strategy.

But let's not take our eye off the ball: The substance of the lie isn't "were there WMDs" or "were there not WMDs." It's: "Did our administration know or even, as claimed, have overwhelming evidence that there were WMDs to such an extent that Iraq had to be immediately forcibly disarmed while the rest of the world said 'wait, wait, let's be sure about this?" The answer to that is clearly: No, it did not.
posted by soyjoy at 10:01 AM on October 17, 2003


It's not about the WMD. It never was.

Oh, that's what was used to convince some of the American people, but the fact is for over a decade after the first Gulf War, Saddam was calling the U.N.'s bluff, and flaunting his apparent immunity and our impotency. He was making the civilized world, and the U.S. in particular, look like idiots. We stopped short of invading Baghdad ten years ago out of diplomatic gestures and general UN buttkissing on our part. The U.N. wanted to issue sanctions and hide behind rhetoric and starve his population on the hope that an internal rebellion would take care of their problems for them. Or eventually Saddam would learn to behave himself and play with the big boys. He refused, and he didn't care that his misbehavior in the international arena was causing his people to starve. He just told his people it was our fault, and they loved him and hated us.

Saddam was a snot and made us all look bad. Like the one child in the classroom who defies the teacher's authority and ends up sent to the principal. We had to take down Saddam. There was no choice. I say this as a pacifist. I don't want violence ever, but the Bush Administration (then and now) lives (and may die) by the sword. So long as violence is worshipped, you gotta stand up to bullies and those who defy authority. You gotta show you're in control, even and especially when you're not and never were.

I knew going in that it would come to this -- the world unhappy with the results. Doesn't change the fact that Shrub had no choice. Like being chased into an alley with a dead end. The only victims in this absurd soap opera are the people of Iraq. Ultimately the goal of people like Saddam or Osama isn't to win. They can't win. Their goal is to make their enemies look stupid so people will stop supporting them, and they're succeeding at that with a royal flush.

Saddam had to be smacked down and America had to be the one to do it, if nothing more than to save face. Of course, the loss over time will prove the futility of it, and you cut off one head like Saddam's and a dozen show up in its place just as ferocious and ignorant, but no one ever listens to me. Here I am brain the size of a planet with pain in all the diodes down my left side...
posted by ZachsMind at 10:10 AM on October 17, 2003


At the time, there did seem to be some measure of evidence that Iraq did at one time have WMDs

Well, it depends on how you define WMDs, because there seems to have been some meaning creep around that. If you define them as nuclear, well, no evidence yet. If you define them as chemical then, as Nader put it, we know they had them at one time because we have the reciepts.

The point was, could they have used them to be a threat to their neighbors or us. That looks pretty unlikely considering they weren't even able to launch a single plane against us when we invaded.

The other thing that bothers me is how much emphasis was put on this being a war against terror. There is still no proof for a link between Hussein and Al-Qaeida. The fact that Bush now says he never said there was blurs and obfuscates the fact that this whole war was positioned as being 'against terror'. But nobody has explained how this is going to stop terrorists if there's not terrorist organizations connected to the former Iraqi government.

Bush says all the time "Hussein was a threat" but he never elaborates to what or whom. I'm pretty sure I never heard anybody claim that Iraq had ICBMs, so what were we protecting?
posted by lumpenprole at 10:12 AM on October 17, 2003


There was no choice.

It is a stupid man who allows himself to be maneuvered into a place where he "has no choice."
posted by rushmc at 10:15 AM on October 17, 2003


Oh, that's what was used to convince some of the American people, but

That's what pissed me off about the whole thing. In a democracy, it ain't right to lie to your people to get them to reach the conclusion you believe in for other reasons. If it doesn't stand on its merits and you can't convince the people without resorting to outright lies and serious misdirection, you shouldn't be doing it.
posted by callmejay at 10:17 AM on October 17, 2003


We had to ignore the UN to punish Saddam for ignoring the UN? Good one.
posted by NortonDC at 10:19 AM on October 17, 2003


The substance of the lie isn't "were there WMDs" or "were there not WMDs." It's: "Did our administration know or even, as claimed, have overwhelming evidence that there were WMDs to such an extent that Iraq had to be immediately forcibly disarmed while the rest of the world said 'wait, wait, let's be sure about this?" The answer to that is clearly: No, it did not.

I agree, and it was a HUGE mistake on their part. I still believe that the invasion of Iraq is the initial step in a long-term mideast anti-terrorism plan, designed to influence the surrounding countries into stopping their sponsorship of the large terrorist origanizations (we can debate all day as the current effectiveness of that campaign, but nevertheless I think it is a valid reason for the invasion, personally, perhaps even a good reason). I don't think that the administration thought they could sell that idea to the people, so they cooked up this WMD thing on the half-ass assumption that sure, he has 'em, and we'll find 'em, and we won't have to ever address this, and in the meantime we can get on with the big picture. And then no one could find anything, and the whole cardhouse started dandruffing. I'm not sure they were specifically lying outright - that they knew for sure that Iraq's WMD capabilities were gone, but went ahead with the marketing campaign anyway - but they certainly seem to have dissembled with monumental brass on topics they at best had no good intelligence on. Either way, it exhibits both incompetence and arrogance, and those two in combination are a prescription for disaster.
posted by UncleFes at 10:36 AM on October 17, 2003


how much emphasis was put on this being a war against terror.

The same drumbeat continues.
Bush, Cheney, Rice and assorted minions all intimated this week that the war in Iraq was about the "war on terra."

So long as the media repeats what they say without comment or question the method will continue to be efective for them.

Let's just remember that Bill Clinton is evil incarnate and aWol is pure and saintly as evidenced by recent photos showing his halo.
posted by nofundy at 10:54 AM on October 17, 2003


I'm not sure they were specifically lying outright - that they knew for sure that Iraq's WMD capabilities were gone, but went ahead with the marketing campaign anyway

No no, I'm sure they weren't lying in that way. Obviously if they had been, the whole thing would've been specifically designed to blow up in their faces. I think they thought since there gotta be some WMDs in there somewhere, we'll use the combination of military force, capture, blackmail, torturing, what have you, to locate them and then trump them up as though they were these huge threats that justified this.

BUT the fact that the lies were not based on the knowledge of no WMDs does not mean they weren't outright lies. As I said above, the content of the lies was the degree of certainty (let's say 10% in reality v. 110% as presented to the UN and the American people). And as it turns out, lying about that has pretty grave consequences - or it will if this report gets any legs, anyway.
posted by soyjoy at 11:01 AM on October 17, 2003


And as it turns out, lying about that has pretty grave consequences - or it will if this report gets any legs, anyway.

I think it will even if this report doesn't get legs. The media is running with it. If we don't see an economic upturn and/or the democrats are able to unify effectively behind a candidate with reasonably wide appeal, Bush is toast, and this will a big hot iron for toasting.

Incompetence and arrogance. "The two greatest of man's sins are these: Laziness and Narcissicism. All the rest stem from these two." Fr. F. X. Cleary, SJ, 1992.
posted by UncleFes at 11:12 AM on October 17, 2003


It wasn't about oil.
It wasn't about liberation.
It wasn't about a grave threat to the world.

It was about a country that had been attacked and demanded a response... a response it wasn't getting. Osama got away, and we spent millions of dollars turning big rocks in Afghanistan into slightly smaller rocks. Bush needed a victory, so he changed the war and got one... sort of.

That or maybe God told him to do it, really who the hell knows. The only thing I can really be sure of is that I was fed a fistful of lies.
posted by mosch at 11:30 AM on October 17, 2003


rushmc: "It is a stupid man who allows himself to be maneuvered into a place where he 'has no choice'."

I never claimed Shrub was smart. =) Or that the act was smart. We were destined to invade Baghdad ever since Saddam picked on Daddy Bush a decade ago. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying that politically it could not be avoided. Ever been bullied in a school playground? Ever tried fighting back? Then the principal gets mad at you and the bully gets off scott free? Cuz the bully was just pushing you, but you actually punched back with a closed fist. I'm not saying it's right. If you subscribe to playground politics, you gotta fight back. Saddam could have just as well insulted Shrub's mother. Same diff.

callmejay: "...In a democracy, it ain't right to lie to your people..."

That's funny. American politics may not have been founded on lies, but they slipped into the foundation like water damage and termites. Now, the only way to get voted in is to lie your butt off. The American people do not respond to honesty. We don't vote for the guy who tells us he's gonna raise taxes. We vote for the guy who tells us he's gonna make everything better and it'll cost us less. We only listen to the lies. We only vote for the liars. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying that's what happens.

Norton that's not what I said. The UN wanted diplomacy. We did diplomacy for a decade. It didn't work. People were dying. Saddam was pretty much doing business as usual. We looked like idiots. Then Nine Eleven happened and Shrub was thinking this way, "This happened because terrorists think they can get away with it, because Saddam barely got a slap on the wrist." Shrub had to make an example of Saddam to dissuade future Nine Elevens, whether the UN sanctioned it or not. Whether the American people sanctioned it or not. Whether the world agreed or not. It's playground politics. Shrub had no choice.

Not saying it's right. Not saying I agree or that it should be right. I'm saying that's what happened.

This doesn't mean Shrub's re-election is doomed. As I said earlier, we vote for liars. If Shrub's able to clean this up, he can take advantage of the lack of a democratic nominee that everyone can rally behind. The dems still have nine or ten possible candidates, none of which inspire, and despite their setbacks the fundamentalist right is still more organized than those who don't share any beliefs.

They will not forsake their burning bush.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:35 AM on October 17, 2003


mosch: "The only thing I can really be sure of is that I was fed a fistful of lies."

You sound so surprised.

I ate it too. Only for me it was forcefed. It was set down on the table before me and I was told to eat it. I didn't, because I saw the maggots.

The people who are supposed to represent us in congress didn't stand up to Shrub. They let him go forward in spite of the UN. Taxation without representation. We were made to eat it, even those of us against the war. You can't be for the military of America AND be against how its used. I'm for our brave men and women in harms way. They are our flesh and blood. They are our present and future. So I had to be for the war, begrudgingly. My vote isn't counted. My voice isn't heard. Now I'm just waiting for the stars to go out.

*shrug*
posted by ZachsMind at 11:45 AM on October 17, 2003


hindsight is, indeed, 20/20.

Except, at the time, it was foresight.
posted by Cerebus at 11:53 AM on October 17, 2003


I still believe that the invasion of Iraq is the initial step in a long-term mideast anti-terrorism plan, designed to influence the surrounding countries into stopping their sponsorship of the large terrorist origanizations (we can debate all day as the current effectiveness of that campaign, but nevertheless I think it is a valid reason for the invasion, personally, perhaps even a good reason).

I agree, and in fact saw more than a couple pieces on this before the war began. Funny thing is, I might have supported the war on the basis of this, but sure as hell couldn't support it on the basis of the garbage rationale we ended up getting.

Basically, I think the administration treated the American public like we were a bunch of slow children, and I fucking resented it.
posted by kgasmart at 12:00 PM on October 17, 2003


I just now thought of a few things, isn't "Terrorism" an action? Like "Fighting"? It almost sounds like we are fighting a "War on War". And at what point does an act of war become terrorism? If a country has no army, and decides to fight back against one that does, is that considered terrorism? And why can't you attack civilians? Aren't the armed forces just the muscle behind the civilian population? I'm very confused, as my post format suggests.
posted by CrazyJub at 12:41 PM on October 17, 2003


that's not what I said.

Yes, it is, whether you understand it or not. You are saying he flouted the UN's authority, and had to be punished, even though the means chosen (not forced, despite your assertion) to punish him was executed without the approval of the UN.

Or, more succinctly, we had to ignore the UN to punish Saddam for ignoring the UN.
posted by NortonDC at 1:15 PM on October 17, 2003


hindsight is, indeed, 20/20.

And foresight is usually a lie.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:30 PM on October 17, 2003


As for the "did they or did they not lie" question, I'm actually lleaning toward "they were swindled by Chalabi." It probably can't be proven that they allowed themselves to be swindled purposefully (though I think that it's pretty obvious that Cheney did), but getting Bay of Pigged by a convicted felon with his own private army is bad enough. All of their key info came from defectors, most of whom were lined up in Detroit and Washington by the INC.

Hundreds of years from now, when people are less immediately concerned by lost lives and such, Ahmad's going to be known as one serisouly clever son of a bitch. In an ideal world I would be sending him fanmail in prison.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:42 PM on October 17, 2003


Has anyone had a look through the US State Dept evidence web site??

The "failure to disarm" section is quite jumbled and strange.

Description of Video-only File of UN Inspectors Discovering Warheads is entirely empty

By far the best presented page is the description of the amets truck that was sold to them by the british
and sold to us as a mobile biological lab. (To those who say that the support vehicle looks slightly different -
I also point out that they seem to have found one that was on a frickin train as well, although I don't remember
hearing about it)

and it's full of fascinating uncredited quotes:

Lt. Col. And we sent you a message to inspect the scrap areas and the abandoned areas.
Col. Yes.
Lt. Col. After you have carried out what is contained in the message ... destroy the message.
Col. Yes.
Lt. Col. Because I don't want anyone to see this message.
Col. Okay okay.
posted by milovoo at 2:58 PM on October 17, 2003


"I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying that politically it could not be avoided."

I disagree. And I don't think the real reason we invaded Iraq was about Bush & family saving face. I think it was the neocon plan formulated long before 9/11.

I think Bush could have made a better decision and saved face by saying something like: "Saddam is a toothless loudmouth. We have bigger fish to catch and we aren't wasting any more time on him. He can't hurt the US and if he attacks his neighbors he'll get his ass handed to him. Again. Even the terrorists hate him. We're done with the no-fly zone and the inspections. This is now a UN problem."

Done.

Bush is very good at insulting and ignoring people he "loathes". And it works. He could have done that with Iraq.

No, I think he didn't have enough backbone to resist Cheney and Wolfowitz as they kept dropping their world domination plan in his lap.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:39 PM on October 17, 2003


Saddam had to be smacked down and America had to be the one to do it, if nothing more than to save face.

Nothing more than the fact that between Iraq and Afghanistan and the deals we cut for bases and airspace to make those wars happen, we are now have a massive, virtually unchallengeable military presence in all the strategic locations necessary to control the greater part of the world's oil supply.

Tell me that's just a coincidental side-effect of all this.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:01 PM on October 17, 2003


we are now have a massive, virtually unchallengeable military presence in all the strategic locations

Not really. The force needed to sustain the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan is more than the Army can support over anything longer than the next year. Reserve and Guard recruitment is already dramatically down, and stop-loss and enlistment extensions can't last forever; the only recourse will be a draft if we want to continue projecting this force.

Whispering that word on the hill is like shining light on a cockroach nest; they all scurry for cover.
posted by Cerebus at 7:12 PM on October 17, 2003


American politics may not have been founded on lies

Oh, but it was. Read about the 1790s sometime—a very interesting decade. There was a strong propaganda campaign about (for example) George Washington's military genius and humble self-abnegation that enraged populists/democrats who felt he and Adams were recreating the English system with a president instead of a king.
posted by languagehat at 5:26 AM on October 18, 2003


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