Here’s my latest piece (below) from the excellent radical-democratic newsletter Dissident Voice: “‘Dishonest’ and ‘Reprehensible?’” It’s got the standard leftist bluster on Bush-Cheney, I suppose (I’m a master practicioner in that realm), but the deeper target of this piece is what the prolific left cultural critic and education theorist Henry A. Giroux calls “dominant [yes, never call it 'mainstream'] ) media,” which has been richly enabling the proto-fascist cabal from…well, from the beginning. That media’s partial WMD apology came a little too weak and a little too late, I’m afraid.
Dishonest and Reprehensible”?
by Paul Street
November 29, 2005
One of the more depressing phenomena in our time is the frequency with which dominant (so-called “mainstream”) U.S. media reports without question the most mendacious imaginable utterances of criminal policymakers.
How many times in recent years have we seen television newscasters dumbly relay the Bush White House’s blatantly false claim that its massive and starkly regressive tax cuts for the wealthy few provide serious “tax relief” for “the middle class” and “everyone who pays taxes”?
How many times did the media transmit without question the administration’s preposterous claims that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq posed a serious threat to the United States, that Saddam was linked to al Qaeda and 9/11, and that he possessed significant “weapons of mass destruction”?
How many times have we witnessed “mainstream” (concentrated corporate-state) media unquestioningly broadcast the laughable notion that the Bush administration wants to establish “democracy” and “freedom” in Iraq? That media passed along this preposterous idea without scrutiny as U.S. occupation authorities imposed a neoliberal economic regime that opened Iraq up for ownership by foreign corporations. No truly free, independent, or democratically structured nation would tolerate such colonization of its material and human resources. Nor would it permit another country to establish permanent military bases on its soil.
The Bush administration knows very well that its imperial objectives in Iraq clash with the wishes and convictions of most of that nation’s population.
How many times has dominant media obediently repeated the White House’s false claim that the occurrence of Iraqi elections was a victory for administration policy? The administration worked desperately to escape the Iraqi people’s demand for elections.
How many times has corporate media repeated as self-evidently obvious the administration’s deceptive claim that the U.S. Social Security system will fiscally collapse unless decisive (privatizing) changes are quickly made to existing law?
And how many times have we seen corporate newscasters respectfully relay Bush’s claim that “we [the U.S.] do not torture”? As any honest journalist ought to know, the president’s statement here is an open lie. Numerous available reports and accounts reveal widespread American use of coercive interrogation techniques in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere, including secret U.S. prisons in Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, and other sites. Countless Arabs, Pashtuns, and others have been kept naked in U.S. cells, bitten by dogs, denied sleep and food, and made to pose for humiliating photographs as Bush requested and acted in accord with high-state legal counsel insisting that captives of his curiously terrorist war on terror are magically unprotected by the Geneva Conventions.
Last Tuesday, corporate newspapers and television reporters relayed another administration lie from Master Orwellian War Pig Dick Cheney. The occasion was Cheney’s public response to rising domestic U.S. criticism of the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Cheney claimed to welcome free debate over the war. He was moved to speak, he said, only to counter the “dishonest and reprehensible” claim of some war critics that the administration invaded Iraq on the basis of selective and distorted intelligence.
In a speech delivered at that great peoples’ forum the American Enterprise Institute (a revealingly favorite public stage for the Cheney-Bush cabal), he charged those who accuse the White House of deceiving the nation into war with “historical revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety. Any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped, or fabricated by the leader of the nation,” Cheney proclaimed, “is utterly false.”
“Senator McCain,” Cheney added, “put it best: ‘it is a lie to say that the president lied to the American people.’”
Any serious news professional should know by now that it is a shameless revisionist lie to deny that the president lied and otherwise deceived to get the American citizenry to accept the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. Here are some of the most “distorted, hyped, [and] fabricated” things the administration said to manipulate the populace into accepting (the falsely named) “Operation Iraqi Freedom”:
* Saddam’s Iraq regime had tried to purchase uranium for a nuclear bomb from Africa
* Iraq possessed 30,000 liters of anthrax and other lethal biological agents.
* Iraq attempted to buy aluminum tubes to be used to construct nuclear weapons.
* Iraq had “in fact reconstituted nuclear weapons” (Cheney)
* Iraq possessed a “growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles” that could be used to dispense chemical weapons against US targets within and beyond US soil.
* Saddam possessed 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents and inspectors had recently turned up 16 of them (Powell, to United Nations).
* Saddam was building ballistic missiles that could fly 620 miles, nearly seven times the range permitted by the United Nations (Powell).
* Saddam’s regime possessed several mobile biological weapons labs.
* Saddam removed United Nations weapons inspectors from Iraq during the late 1990s without any provocation, seeking to hide a resurgent program of WMD reconstruction.
* During the (U.S.-manufactured) crisis leading to US invasion, “we gave [Saddam] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in….so we decided to remove him from power.”
* Iraq had strong and longstanding ties to al Qaeda and was linked to 9/11 and a serious threat to hand off weapons to mass destruction to Islamic militant terrorists like bin-Laden.
* Saddam’s past horrific (and US funded and approved) use of chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds and Iranian soldiers and his invasion of Kuwait (with perceived US approval) proved his reckless (in fact suicidal) willingness to use WMDs against the US and/or other states.
* The Bush administration wished to avoid military action against Iraq, seeing the use of military force against that nation as “a last resort” and only “reluctantly” engaged in war on that nation.
* The US invaded Iraq out of respect for international law, the United Nations, and international democracy and in opposition to the use of violence in international affairs.
* Invading US troops would certainly be welcomed as “liberators” by grateful, joyous Iraqi masses celebrating the “freedom” granted them by Bush.
Even as Bush and his subordinates made such strikingly misleading claims in preparing and conducting an illegal invasion of a sovereign state, the president included the following quotation from John F. Kennedy in the text of a pivotal war speech given in October 2002: “Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small.”
How’s that for “shameless”?
Reflecting on these and other brazen administration deceptions before, during, and after the occupation of Iraq, Cheney should ask his legal staff to review Title 18, part 1, chapter 47, and section 1001 of the
United States federal statutory code (US Code Collection). That statute mandates fines and imprisonment up to five years for a federal office-holder who “knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry.”
For what it’s worth, the administration is lying (imagine) when it claims to welcome open debate on its failed Iraq policy. In a chilling Veteran’s Day speech in Pennsylvania, Bush more than suggested that criticism of his occupation by Americans is a form of at best unintentional treason because it strengthens the “terrorist enemy” and undermines “our troops.” Cheney and his fellow top War Master Donald Rumsfeld have said the same thing more explicitly on numerous and recent occasions, accusing war critics of “sending the wrong message” to the enemies of America and “freedom.”
The “wrong message” is that some Americans (most by now) are not lining up in blind obedience to their Imperial Wizards as those Master Liars commit hideous war crimes in the name of what Cheney likes to call “the civilized world.”
“Dishonest and reprehensible?” Dominant American media will never say so, but that’s the essence of what the proto-fascistic Cheney-Bush administration is all about.
Paul Street ([email protected]) is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, October 2004).