General Question

segdeha's avatar

Is anyone still not convinced that BushCheney Inc. lied us into war?

Asked by segdeha (1720points) January 23rd, 2008

The Center for Public Integrity just published a comprehensive compilation of the lies the Bush administration told in the run-up to the Iraq war. By their tally, 935 lies were told about things like Saddam Hussein’s military capabilities and Iraqi ties to al Qaeda.

I don’t understand how anyone could remain unconvinced that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and Rice deliberately lied to the American public and the world in an effort to manipulate us into letting them go to war.

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36 Answers

bpeoples's avatar

The question, however, should be: how does this compare to:

I. Other democracies (direct or republics) leader’s lie rates
II. Historic US leader rates for lying/deception.
III. World historical lie rates prior to wars.

Statistics without context (935 lies) are not really useful. Might be handy to develop a Lie Index, e.g., number of lies per sentence or something. Weighted in some manner regarding the severity. That is, lying about what you ate for breakfast would be a low weight, claiming to not be a foreign spy (while actually being one) would be a high weight.

Then we would actually have some basis to compare =)

glial's avatar

I’m convinced that no planes have hit buildings and/or killed Americans on U.S. soil since 2001.

cwilbur's avatar

I understand it. (I don’t agree with this point of view, but I understand it.) It’s not so much that the people who aren’t convinced don’t think that Bush said things that weren’t true, but that they’re not sure that Bush did it intentionally with malice aforethought and that the end result was a bad thing.

There are two aspects to the statement, “Bush & company lied to us, and got us into a war we shouldn’t be involved in.” (You didn’t make the second part explicitly, but if you thought it was a just and justified war, you most likely would not be as upset about it.)

The first is that they lied—which is a very loaded word. To lie, you have to know the truth and tell a falsehood with malicious intent. If you say what you believe to be true, even if it’s false, it’s not a lie; if you say something you know to be untrue, but there’s no malice in it, it’s not always considered a lie. So to demonstrate that Bush & company lied about things, you have to show that they knew that what they were saying was false and that they said it with malicious intent. That’s a much higher burden of proof than just showing that they were wrong. Even in retrospect, when we know that Saddam Hussein did not have great military resources or weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq and al-Qaeda had no significant ties, if you want to convince someone that Bush & company lied, you have to show that they knew that at the time—not merely that someone in the State Department knew it, or that there was “no convincing evidence,” but that Bush & company knew for a fact that what they were saying was untrue. This is difficult to demonstrate for those of us who don’t like Bush and his cronies; if you are inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, it becomes impossible.

A lie also requires malicious intent, and that ties into the second part of the statement. From your point of view (and mine), this is a war we should not be involved in. There are people out there, foreign policy “hawks,” who think that the best defense is a good offense, and Islamic totalitarianism, whether fundamentalist or secular, needs to be rooted out at every opportunity, either as a preemptive strike because they’re planning something or as a retaliatory strike because of 9/11. (The lack of connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda is irrelevant; in this mindset, they’re all Islamic, they’re all terrorists, they all hate us, and they’re going to attack us at the earliest opportunity.) These people, in addition to giving Bush the benefit of the doubt because they support his actions, are likely to see the “lies” in a positive light: not intentional falsehoods with malice aforethought, but necessary fictions that had to be told to get everyone to support what had to be done.

There are two schools of thought in foreign policy: one is the idealist camp, which holds that the best route is to invest heavily in cooperating and working together to avoid conflict in the first place, and the other is the pragmatist camp, which holds that the best route is to ensure that when conflict inevitably occurs, we are on the winning side. The “Bush lied us into war” viewpoint grows out of the former approach, while the “it’s a necessary war, and the lies are irrelevant because we did the right thing in the end” viewpoint grows out of the latter.

As a thought experiment, if you start with “We’re not going to be able to avoid conflict every time, so we need to make sure that when it happens, we’re on the winning side” as an axiom, you should be able to reason yourself to the point where you don’t think it’s important that Bush and company lied.

(I also think this is a useful technique for arguing: if you can only conclude that your interlocutor is crazy or stupid or demented, you can’t figure out how to change his mind. If you can, on the other hand, understand why he comes to the conclusions he did, then you can figure out how to bring him around to your point of view.)

Perchik's avatar

@glial You must clarify your statement. There are plane crashes in the US all the time, in which one or two Americans die. There have also been a number where they hit buildings.
Remember the death of the yankees pitcher, Cory Lidle ?

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I posted a question about Project for a New American Century. It is a neo-con thinktank made up of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Jeb, Libby, etc. This is their Statement of Principles directly from their website, Keep in mind, this thinktank was started in 1997.

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:
• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;

• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;

• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;

• we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

Our country is falling apart because of the lies these people told to push their agenda. They all belong in jail.Wake up people.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Hey glial, how many buildings got hit on 9/11?

cwilbur's avatar

@chris6137: that’s a perfect example of the ‘pragmatic’ approach to foreign policy. None of those things are inherently bad; it’s the means they chose to get to those ends that are causing us problems now.

You’ll never convince anyone to come around to your side if you insist that those you oppose are all power-hungry maniacs pushing an irrational agenda—especially when they’ve been so clear about what their agenda is, and it’s self-evidently rational. You have to understand why they think what they think and engage them on the points and the techniques. Using language like “our country is falling apart because of the lies these people told” won’t convince anyone but the faithful who already agree with you—the people you disagree with think our country is better off because we have made a show of strength on the international stage and we’ve demonstrated that we won’t put up with hostile regimes.

Indeed, when you post a summary of pragmatic foreign policy and then rant about it, it makes you look like the crank. Which I don’t like, because I agree with you, and the more people who look like cranks who are pushing ideas I agree with, the harder it is for me to get people to take things seriously.

paulc's avatar

@glial how many planes purposefully hit buildings and killed Americans before Sept. 11, 2001? Its a little bit like saying: “glial hasn’t had steak since Sept. 11, 2001, therefore it is clearly the result of the terrorist attack that glial’s steak consumption has dropped to zero.” Then again, maybe you just stopped eating steak. (Please replace “steak” with “tofu” if you are vegan/vegetarian, and accept my mildest apologies).

As for Bush and Cheney, I’d be inclined to believe they are the most evil, capitalist, soul-sucking, war-mongering, lying, murderous monsters that they are if it weren’t for the fact that they’re just so darned adorable! Press conferences are like getting the full force of a CareBear™ Stare. But seriously they’re totally evil.

vanguardian's avatar

Do you guys really think that any elected official in the white house wouldn’t lie to us? Come on. I don’t care if its right, left or whatever, politics today is all just one crooked business. War is big business. The repulicans were making out & thats the only reason the dems cried foul. Now that the war is lining their pockets, silence. Murtha & Pelosi are eating well now. Being blinded by your political party’s so called “values” has got us to where we are today. I don’t follow the parrot/lemming style that so many do today. So stop getting your info from biased sites, news and the hot chick with a tattoo and be a free thinker.

segdeha's avatar

Throw the bums out! A Libertarian/Anarchist friend of mine says you should always vote against the incumbent, no matter their party or stances. Something about mathematically it working to our advantage in the long run.

bpeoples's avatar

@segdeha: that’s the idea behind term limits…

Maverick's avatar

I think that its funny that some people think its acceptable for the President to lie (and let’s face it, I don’t think there is anything they haven’t lied about at this point). As I remember it, Clinton was almost successfully run out of office for lying about whether or not he slept with some bimbo… hardly international incident stuff there. Yet, the same people that were screaming blue murder about that “incident” find it acceptable for this President to knowingly lie or bury facts in order to gain support to commit acts that directly lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including thousands of American citizens?!? It is completely baffling to me and more than a little scary.

cwilbur's avatar

I don’t think it’s baffling at all. And it’s starting to amaze me how few people seem willing or able to see the other guy’s point of view. Truly, it is no wonder politics in this country has devolved into two camps of people shouting at each other.

The people who take a pragmatic approach towards foreign policy think it’s a good thing that we took out what they saw as one of the major threats to American security. They probably even know and accept that the reasons Bush gave for going to war were a complete fiction, and possibly believe that he knew at the time that they were fiction. But they think that the war is justified and a good thing, and so the fiction that got us into it is, at best, a necessary evil: they see Bush as doing the right thing in the end, and needing to misrepresent the situation in order to get support to do the right thing.

Now, the fundamental point of difference here is whether the war in Iraq is a good thing or a bad thing for the US. Stretch your mind—assume that the war in Iraq can be a good thing if it’s handled properly. Re-evaluate your opinion of Bush’s actions leading up to it in that light. You’ll probably start to understand how some people, even if confronted with evidence that Bush told what he knew to be untruths with malice aforethought that they might not care, or think it’s terribly important.

segdeha's avatar

Here comes hossman! :-)

hossman's avatar

cwilbur said: “I also think this is a useful technique for arguing: if you can only conclude that your interlocutor is crazy or stupid or demented, you can’t figure out how to change his mind.”

You left out “member of a vast, right-wing conspiracy.”

I agree with cwilbur that passing on false information is not “lying,” unless it is known by the transmitter to be false. As we had an extensive thread where I asserted lying is always wrong, it is important to me to be able to make a distinction between “incorrect” or “misled” from “lying.”

cwilbur's avatar

Obviously, I think that anyone who would be a member of a vast right-wing conspiracy is crazy or stupid or demented! The fun conspiracies are the left-wing ones, with all the musicians and drugs….

And yes, hossman, I agree about the definition of ‘lying’ – the person lying has to know that the statement is untrue and has to be spreading it with malicious intent to deceive.

So to establish that Bush & company lied, you have to show that at the time they made certain claims they knew that what they were saying was untrue and that they said it anyway with malicious intent. That’s an awfully hard thing to prove.

segdeha's avatar

Doesn’t the Downing Street Memo establish that the intelligence and facts were being fixed [by the US] around the policy by Bush & Co. to support their already established goal of removing Saddam? Then, at least, we have motive to lie if not proof of actual lies. And, since everyone here seems to agree that politicians are willing to lie to varying degrees, why is it such a leap to think that this administration deliberately misled the public to further their agenda?

segdeha's avatar

Anyway, the thing is in America, circa 2003—2008, the truth doesn’t even seem to matter anymore. Public outrage moves politicians to do little more than give a speech or two. Mass demonstrations are written off as the work of fringe elements and ignored. The problem, IMHO, is that government isn’t responsive to the will of the people. The only thing that matters are their calculated odds of re-election and potential for profit by them and their cronies. Honestly, I have little hope for the U.S. to become again the shining example to the world of what a free people can achieve (to quote GWB) that it once was.

hossman's avatar

“You can’t handle the truth!”

I think we are currently still a shining example. One of my best memories from when I worked for a federal judge is the citizenship ceremonies. There are still a lot of people for whom the U.S. is a beacon in the darkness. Unfortunately, few of those people are Americans. Perhaps we are a shining example of what a free people can achieve and that can linger on despite most of those free people refusing to be bothered with maintaining that shining example, many of those free people not knowing how good they have it, and some of those free people actively trying to destroy it.

cwilbur's avatar

@segdeha: Government is only as responsive to the will of the people as the people expect it to be. With the Internet and broadband widely available, it’s possible for a third party candidate to run an election campaign. But most people expect government to be stupid and unresponsive and annoying, and they expect that they need to vote for one of the two main-party candidates, and, well, they get the government they expect.

If public outrage or mass demonstrations resulted in people changing their votes, politicians would respond. But they’ve learned through long experience that public outrage is transient and can be safely ignored. And you know what? Since the public outrage doesn’t result in people behaving any differently, let alone voting any differently, I think the politicians are right.

Maverick's avatar

Certainly there are still many places in the world which are much, much worse than the US. There was a time, however, when the US strived to be the very best at everything it did. Education, healthcare, medicine, science, space exploration, athletics, and so on. In recent years however, it seems that it is perfectly content to simply not be at the bottom. I would hardly call that a “shining example”. That’s not to say that there are not people in bad situations in other parts of the world that would like to come to the US and would see it as a better life. It is to say however, that at one time that view of America was held by the great majority of the world (well, at least in the Western world) and that it no longer exists in the view of the residents of most, if not all, Western countries. So clearly, things have changed – even if the people living inside the US don’t – or simply refuse to – see it yet.

vanguardian's avatar

why is it everything on the right wing is a conspiracy? And the left is this perfect little party. You think that all parties didn’t have the facts. He was going to invade Iraq one way or another. The whole reason we’ve got bogged down there is because of this “lying” thing. We are fighting thugs with kid gloves. Everyones looking for a slither to beat up on bush. We can’t win anything acting like a pansy nation. We lost our backbone. If we went in there and fought like we should my brother would be home with me now charged up to watch his giants. But, no…soldiers can’t even do their job, fighting for us, without charges being brought against them. Just to satisfy the Islamic terrorist loving media and their “Bush” lied followers. Islam is a peaceful religion? Thats why they want my fellow Americans & I dead.

vanguardian's avatar

Ahhhh…The joys of Fluther. I can go from this nice heated topic to “how can I make my ipod put the seat down?” with just a few clicks. genius.

Maverick's avatar

@vanguardian – I’d say that invading two sovereign countries with false justifications when the entire world was telling you not to would probably constitute the mindless machismo that you are aspiring to. So lets see, the US invades two countries that have little to no military whatsoever, it gets bogged down in a guerrilla war while trying to occupy those countries, suffers thousands of casualties, and gets trapped in a quagmire that it can’t get out of. Gee, who warned you that would happen? Oh right, EVERYONE.

Your comments about Islam are just plain ignorant.

vanguardian's avatar

@maverick…Keith Olbermann tell you what to eat too?

Maverick's avatar

@vanguardian – Oooh, good one. FoxNEWS program your brain for you?

hossman's avatar

Maverick claims the U.S. invaded two countries that had “little to no military whatsoever.” First, although Afghanistan had little to no OFFICIAL military, much of the opposition we have faced there is from militias, terrorist groups, local warlords, and other unofficial forces not included in calculations of the size of national armed forces.

As for Iraq, Maverick’s statement is provably false. While estimates vary, most of the estimates of the size of the Iraqi military fall between 375,000 to 425,000 regular armed forces members at the start of the War in Iraq, placing Iraq’s regular military somewhere around 13th largest in the world at that time. That does not include the various unofficial militias, Baathists, and various terrorist groups.

Perhaps one should check the facts before one refers to another poster as ignorant.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I think Bill Hicks said it best. “Iraq has incredible weapons, incredible weapons.” “How do you know?” “Well, we checked the receipts. And as soon as that check clears, well be going in.”

How did Iraq get to be the 13th largest military? The same way alot of other countries did. We arm the both sides of wayyyy to many conflicts. Look at the mess we are in now.

hossman's avatar

That is a great line re the check clearing, chris. I’m betting one of the reasons it was so easy for our military to fight Iraqi forces is we built most of the stuff to begin with. In fact, I wonder whether the U.S. makes sure these exported weapons has secret little “design flaws” built in, ready for us to exploit if the weapons are turned against us.

And to refer indirectly to another thread, and to be completely coldblooded, is arms production yet another tech job we want to lose to our competitors abroad?

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Funny you say that Hossman. I dont have any links to back this up, but ive heard several times that we can not build any tanks or planes for our military without parts from China. Can anyone confirm this?

hossman's avatar

It wouldn’t surprise me, although I’m sure it wouldn’t take much time for us to gear that up if we had to.

vanguardian's avatar

@chris6137 it is true about the parts production. The percentage of parts used in our military vehicles and planes has increased greatly, regarding outsourcing. They had a report about it on some network about the increased failure of components used in these applications. The scary thing was these modules & control units being built in china.

China is poised and laying the framework to becoming the next “super power” they have been sculpting their population so that in the near future the number of men aged 18–24 will be astronomical. They are commited to their military as it is their number 1 priority. All the signs are there and we are ripe for the picking.

segdeha's avatar

Kids, kids…

trainerboy's avatar

If he lied so did Hillary. I know she says NOW that she is running for President that she only authorized the use of force if necesarry, but she wasn’t saying that before she was a candidate. In fact, she was a staunch supporter of the war until she became a candidate in a party where the war is unpopular. Then she says she takes responsibility for her vote by saying she was duped by Bush? Wait a minute, if he is such a dufus, she must really be stupid to be duped by him.
Did Bush lie, I don’t know for certain so to say yes would make me a liar as well. Do I believe we should have gone into Iraq? No.
By the way, do a little research on some of the lies, illegal wiretappings and circumventing of Congress that FDR did to get us into World War II. I know he is a darling of big government liberals but he lied to get us into wwII. He also broke the law and could have been impeached for the things he did, not to mention interring the Japanese americans, Italain Americans and some German americans.

Mizuki's avatar

I am sure there are some mouth breathing holdouts that believe the world is flat too….

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