Wednesday, May 24, 2006

You Can't Handle the Truthiness


Zacarias Moussaoui confessed to being part of the 9/11 plot, and was sentenced to life in prison on May 4th. Yesterday, Osama bin Laden released a videotape on the web stating that Moussaoui had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Which of those two guys is telling the truth? If one or the other of them were members of the Bush administration, it would be easy to tell.


In 1998, the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century urged President Bill Clinton to remove Saddam Hussein from power by military force in order to protect "our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil[.]"

In 2002, as the Bush administration pushed for an invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein's deputy Tariq Aziz told the New York Times that "The reason for this warmongering policy toward Iraq is oil and Israel."

In early 2006, Mister Bush admonished his critics not to accuse him of invading Iraq for "oil" or "because of Israel."


In August 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

In September 2002, Senator Joe Lieberman said, "Every day Saddam remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States."

Later that month, then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

In November 2002, Ms. Rice said, "He already has other weapons of mass destruction. But a nuclear weapon, two or three our four years from now -- I don't care where it is, when it is -- to have that happen in a volatile region like the Middle East is most certainly a future that we cannot tolerate."

In May 2003, she said, "U.S. officials never expected that we were going to open garages and find weapons of mass destruction."

On last Sunday's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert asked Rice why, given the administration's assertions about Iraq's WMD, anyone should believe them now regarding Iran's nuclear intentions.

Rice's reply: "Well, let’s remember, first of all, that the United States didn’t go and say Iraq is a, is a problem on the WMD side."


In his 2005 State of the Union Address, Mister Bush said that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country has no desire to develop or acquire nuclear weapons.

Who are we to believe? Ahmadinejad says a lot of incendiary, crazy sounding things. But then so does Mister Bush. And as far as I know, Iran's president hasn't lied to me yet, which is a lot more than I can say for America's president.


We know that the Bush administration has manipulated the U.S. information media--both overtly and covertly--to spread propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation. As Daniel Schulman of Columbia Journalism Review so aptly puts it, our government uses "'truth based' information…as a substitute for the truth."

Comedian Stephen Colbert's reinvention of the word "truthiness" as an adjective to describe the Bush administration's rhetoric was selected by the American Dialectic Society as its 2005 Word of the Year.

A noted political scientist once identified the key tools of national power as diplomacy, information, military and economy. While the policies and actions of the Bush regime have done significant damage to all of America's tools of power, the most seriously affected victim may be our information environment. In the post-Dubya world, we'll be able to rebuild our military and bring our deficit under control. We've done both of those things before. We will heal our diplomatic prowess overnight simply by replacing all the diplomats (just getting rid of John Bolton will be a 100 percent improvement).

But will anyone ever really trust us again? Will Americans ever be able to trust their own government? Will we ever feel confident about the authenticity of anything we read or hear or see in the news media? Will there ever be a "spontaneous" public moment that we won't suspect of being staged? Is there any aspect of daily intercourse that hasn't been infected by "truthiness?"

When acquaintances recommend a service or product to you, will you ever stop wondering if they're getting paid to spread "word of mouth" advertising?

Will there ever again be meaningful political discussion that isn't a rehash of carefully crafted and echoed talking points? Will you ever again not question whether the people you're talking to actually believe what they're saying, or even understand what they're saying actually means?

I really wish I knew of a sure fire way to heal the horrific wound our national trust has suffered, but I don't.

It may be a good sign, however, that thanks to the likes of Stephen Colbert, we can at least laugh about the fact that we all know our nation's leaders are lying to us.

Hopefully, the next step will be that Americans will go to the polls in unprecedented numbers come November and do something about it.



  1. I think Moussaoui is mentally unstable, and I don't think he had anything to do with the 9/11 plot. His story was disjointed, self-contradictory, and implausble at best. So what bin Laden is saying on that score is probably true.

    I saw Dr. Rice on Meet the Press, and heard her comment. All I can is that it was baffling. The idea that Iraq was a problem on the WMD side was a cornerstone of the admin's justification for invading. A smarter thing would have been to take her lumps, admit the admin was wrong, and say something to the effect that we'd learned our lesson and our intelligence is scrutinized more carefully, etc. If that's true, of course.

    The President of Iran did say the holocaust was a myth. That's a lie, and I'm sure he knows it.

    Are Americans going to flock to the polls and do something in November? I think the Democrats are firmly in control of their own destiny on this. They've got roughly 6 months to make a case and energize people to go out and vote. This isn't time to sit back and rely on Bush's unpopularity, it is time to capitalize on it by rebuilding a popularity of their own. Want they want to do is make sure the swing voters who are unhappy with Bush still come out to the polls (voting Democratic) rather than simply sitting at home on election day. That's how they're going to regain control. Short of that and they may make some strides, but you're not going to see the massive shift like we saw in favor of the GOP in '92.

  2. Moussaoui is schizophrenic and nothing he says can be taken as fact. He has a sibling who is schizophrenic and a parent who is bipolar and the doctors say he is schizophrenic. He is nothing but a scapegoat. A person to hang out to dry so that the American public feels some sense of justice for 911. And, since Bush has still not produced OBL, Moussaoui will have to do. And the majority of people are just fine letting a mentally insane guy rot in prison for the rest of his life, even if he is not to blame.

    As for the Democratic party, they have ideas, but the real problem is that they are not as good at dumbing things down or focusing on divisive policy as the republithugs are. For example, the only reason immigration is a big deal right now is b/c the November elections are coming up. As we get closer to Nov., the noise will get louder, rallying people around non-issues like gay marriage and other unimportant crap.

    And meanwhile, Iran is asking for about the third time to have direct talks with the US, but Bush has refused. So, when we start bombing Iran, I do not want to hear that it was because diplomacy failed. The Bush admin. wants diplomacy to fail. They are trying to make it fail. Oh yeah, and the 'wiping Israel off the map' comment was a misquote. Read Juan Cole's take on that. Maybe we should get some media that can correctly translate Farsi into that country. There have been several false stories about Iran coming out in the past week or so. Don't believe everything you read, there are a lot of psyops going on right now.

  3. Navywife,
    It seems to me that the worst thing that could happen to the current POTUS would be the capture of Osama.
    Bush would then be obliged to find another bogeyman to scare the American public with.
    971 days to go.

  4. Psyops, indeed. I just caught yet another "false headline" from Reuters concerning Iran, and will have another piece on it shortly.

  5. Moussaoui was, indeed, part of what al Qaeda called the "planes operation," which included 9/11 and what might have been planned after. He received quite a bit of money for his flight training, and was determined to try to learn to fly a jet simulator. It's quite possible, though, that he didn't know the identities of the 19 hijackers or the fact that it would occur precisely on Sept. 11.

    Testimony by imprisoned enemy combatants puts him in the "second wave" that was to follow 9/11.

  6. Juror,
    If that is true that just shows how unorganized Al-Qaeda is. If they "hired" someone who has a clinical case of schizophrenia, then they were desperate. I still believe that he had no idea what he was doing. Schizophrenics are very impressionable and do things that make no sense if they are coaxed. MSNBC had an enitre article about Moussaoui and his family and their history of mental illness. Most people would not read that article and think anything, but I cried when I finished it. I have been around and counseled schizophrenics and what was written in that article was classic schizophrenic behavior. He could not have known what he was doing. It is a shame really.

  7. Juror,

    I'm not taking a side re your assertions, but do you have a reference or two that discusses what you've said here?


  8. I tend to agree with navywife. Even if Moussaoui were involved with al-qaeda and some secondary plot, I still think he has mental problems that would have allowed him to be easily manipulated by such a group. And I'm not convinced he was really involved with them in any substantial way to begin with. Since he was the only guy charged directly relating to 9/11, the government was certainly intent on nailing him whether he really had any involvement or not.

    Also, navywife, I looked at Juan Cole's stuff on Iran, which was quite interesting. Looks like there was another mistaken press report about that country just recently. But even with all that said, Cole also notes what he calls "disturbing" evidence that Iran is tracking religious minorities like the Ba'hai, who were massacred a fwe decades ago by Khomenei. My thought on it is that the leadership there cannot be trusted at all. That said, I don't think there is any rational approach to Iran other than a diplomatic one. I don't think people would stand for military action against Iran, nor should they.

  9. Jeff,

    My references are the testimony and evidence presented at the trial, particularly the written testimony of 9/11 "mastermind" Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Also, the testimony of FBI agent Harry Samit, who arrested and questioned Moussaoui on Aug. 16 and 17, 2001.


    Moussaoui's sisters and father have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but it's not so clear that Z. Moussaoui is schizophrenic. A psychiatrist with impressive credentials conducted three clinical interviews with him and diagnosed him with "personality disorder, NOS" (not otherwise specified). Another doctor, equally credentialled, diagnosed Moussaoui as schizophrenic. But that doctor did not have the opportunity to meet with Moussaoui and based the diagnosis on other people's observations and Z.M.'s writings.