Monday, February 19, 2007

Bernstein on Bush: Biggest Liar Ever

The news - that George W. Bush has spent his entire administration deceiving, manipulating, and lying to the American people - isn't really ground-breaking. But to hear it stated so plainly from someone like Carl Bernstein is refreshing ... and may tell a lot about just how bad things have gotten. Courtesy AlterNet (http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/48092/)

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Below, is the last question from an interview that didn't make it into Frontline's current series, News Wars -- Rory O'Connor writes more about the series here.

When the man who broke the Watergate scandal calls White House lying "something that I have never witnessed before on this scale," you listen...

But first, Juan Cole called bullshit from the start [VIDEO] and John Aravosis notes that CNN's Ed Henry caught Bush in a lie about Iran.

Last week's "anonymous" defense/intel briefing (emphasis added): "At issue was a weekend briefing in Baghdad at which three senior U.S. military officials said that the 'highest levels' of the Iranian government had ordered the smuggling into Iraq of high-tech roadside bombs that have been killing American soldiers."

This week, Bush lets slip that nobody knows if it came from the "highest levels" or not -- echoing what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace said earlier this week: "We know the Quds Force is part of the Iranian government. I don't think we know who picked up the phone and said 'the Quds Force go do this,' we know it's a vital part of the Iranian government."

Of course, the White House now claims that some wild-eyed "briefer" is responsible for the bad intelligence, but you'd be a fool to think that this wasn't just a lie that didn't work...

And now back to Carl Bernstein's assessment of this administration's predilection for lying:

Finally, I just want to get your reflections on the [famously contentious] relationship of Richard Nixon and the press. ... How does that compare to George W. Bush and the press?

First, Nixon's relationship to the press was consistent with his relationship to many institutions and people. He saw himself as a victim. We now understand the psyche of Richard Nixon, that his was a self-destructive act and presidency.

I think what we're talking about with the Bush administration is a far different matter in which disinformation, misinformation and unwillingness to tell the truth -- a willingness to lie both in the Oval Office, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in the office of the vice president, the vice president himself -- is something that I have never...

... witnessed before on this scale.

The lying in the Nixon White House had most often to do with covering up Watergate, with the Nixon administration's illegal activities. Here, in this presidency, there is an unwillingness to be truthful, both contextually and in terms of basic facts that ought to be of great concern to people of all ideologies. ...

This president has a record of dishonesty and obfuscation that is Nixonian in character in its willingness to manipulate the press, to manipulate the truth. We have gone to war on the basis of misinformation, disinformation and knowing lies from top to bottom. That is an astonishing fact. That's what this story is about: the willingness of the president and the vice president and the people around them to try to undermine people who have effectively opposed them by telling the truth. It happened with [Sen.] John McCain in South Carolina. It happened with [Sen.] John Kerry. It's happened with [Sen.] Max Cleland in Georgia. It's happened with many other people. That's the real story, and that's the story that [the press] should have been writing. ...

It's very difficult, as a reporter, to get across that when you say, "This is a presidency of great dishonesty," that this is not a matter of opinion. This is demonstrable fact. If you go back and look at the president's statements, you look at the statements of the vice president, you look at the statements of Condoleezza Rice, you go through the record, you look at what [counterterrorism expert] Richard Clarke has written, you look at what we know -- it's demonstrable. It's fact. Now, how do you quantify it? That's a different question.

But to me, if there is a great failure by the so-called mainstream press in this presidency, it's the unwillingness to look at the lies and disinformation and misinformation and add them up and say clearly, "Here's what they said; here's what the known facts were," because when that is done, you then see this isn't a partisan matter. This is a matter of the truth, particularly about this war. This is a presidency that is not willing to tell the truth very often if it is contrary to its interests. It's not about ideology from whence I say this. It's about being a reporter and saying: "That's what the story is. Let's see what they said; let's see what the facts are." ...

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