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Staff Sergeant Charles D Allen of Wasilla, Alaska, was killed in Iraq last week. I happened to click on the internet news item and saw photographs of him with his wife and son. Now I’m an old and hardened former soldier. A cynic, some say, although I would dispute that. But fairly tough, emotionally.
Tough? In a pig’s valise. The photographs pierced my heart like a red-hot needle through a candle. The tears welled in my eyes for the loss of a good man–one of over 3000 men and women in uniform who have died in this insane war in Iraq. The tears were for the grief of his widow and for their son who will never again be taken fishing by his dad. Charles Allen was midway through his second tour in Bush’s war when a sniper got him. He died because he was a loyal soldier who did his duty in harm’s way.
And, like all his dead comrades, he died for lies.
If you Google "Bush Lies" you come up with over 18 million items. Sure, not all of them are relevant, possibly only 10 million or so, but it’s still an interesting figure. Because the lie-telling example set by the White House is followed by everyone else in the administration — or everyone else, that is, who wants to keep his or her job. Well, they’ve got mortgages and great kids (just like Staff Sergeant Charles Allen), so what’s a few lies if they keep the salary coming in? Who of us can blame those in such a situation? But many of them are True Believers who lie because they know, deep in their murky souls, that lying is permissible and even laudable when the man at the top considers it right.
No action can be taken against the liars for the reason that the whole house of cards would come tumbling down were there to be admission that lies have been told deliberately, with malice aforethought. The structure and direction of government in the United States and Britain is now built on keeping citizens in the dark about what the president and the prime minister and their sinister supporters and manipulators are doing and how they are doing it. It’s the sort of dictatorial behavior we expect in China, Burma, Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia, but not from western democracies.
Bush is a compulsive liar. He lies, like the disgraced President Nixon of evil memory, because it is instinctive in his nature to prefer lies to truth in spite of being aware of the difference. In the words of the historian John Morton Blum, "[Nixon] believed, as did Kissinger, that . . . those who wielded power could behave with deceit and criminality. He believed that power and those who used it were not accountable–not accountable to the people, not accountable to the law." Blum could have written that today, describing present circumstances.
Bush uses deceit and carefully crafted mendacity to try to convince the world that his policies are inspired by God and are for the benefit of all mankind, even if this means killing thousands of harmless human beings who happen to get in the way of his bombs and his gunships’ cannon and rockets.
When things go wrong, the Bush-imposed policy is flat denial that any mistake was made, be that slaughtering civilians in a war zone or in cases of illegal detention and torture. The script after that, if denial fails and the public manage to find out some of the facts, is to attack the media for daring to reveal the truth. This Cheney-Bush tactic is slavishly followed by Britain’s prime minister, Tony Blair, whose legacy to his country is establishment of a racist surveillance state. He and Cheney followed the script recently when both of them snarled and bleated to the world that everything was really all right everywhere and that the only problem was caused by the media giving the wrong impression to gullible citizens.
But some honorable people actually speak out. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla) told the lying Condoleezza Rice last week that he didn’t believe what he was being told. "Madam Secretary," he said, "I have supported you and the administration on the war, and I cannot continue to support the administration’s position. I have not been told the truth over and over again by administration witnesses, and the American people have not been told the truth."
Nobody paid any attention. Why should they? Rice tells lies, Bush tells lies, Cheney tells lies–who cares? — None except those who are honest, inclined to morality and, of course, powerless to do anything about it.
One of the most outrageous deliberate lies was told by Cheney (who else?). Here is part of an interview with him about Iraq:
Question: Are you saying that you believe fighting in Iraq has prevented terrorist attacks on American soil? And if so, why, since there has not been a direct connection between al Qaeda and Iraq established?
Cheney: Well, the fact of the matter is there are connections. Mr. Zarqawi, who was the lead terrorist in Iraq for three years, fled there after we went into Afghanistan. He was there before we ever went into Iraq.
A month before Cheney’s denial of truth the Intelligence Committee of the Senate of the United States of America recorded (page 109 of its Report) that "Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and . . . the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi."
It is a disturbing commentary on the governance of the world’s most powerful country that its joint supreme leader can tell a lie, knowing that it is a lie, in confident expectation that many millions of Americans will accept it as truth. (Nobody else does, all round the world, but that’s irrelevant.)
Bush himself, in his psychotic diatribe on January 11, 2007, declared that:
"On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq." He referred to al Qaeda ten times in his continuing attempts to persuade the American people that he went to war on Iraq because there was a terrorist threat against them, fostered by Baghdad. He had announced on June 17, 2004 that "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda."
Two years later, in August 2006, Bush tried to weasel his way out of his lies by lying that:
"Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective."
The 9/11 Commission report made it clear there was no evidence that any of the supposed contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda "ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with Al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."
But according to Angus Reid Global Monitor on January 7, "32 per cent of respondents [to a poll in December 2006] think Iraq gave substantial support to al-Qaeda, and 18 per cent think the Iraqi government was directly involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks."
The lies have worked. And Staff Sergeant Charles Allen and over 3000 of his comrades have been killed because the White House deliberately spread the fabricated message that America had been attacked with Iraqi connivance. It wasn’t enough for Bush and Cheney to have lied deliberately about non-existent weapons of mass destruction. The fall-back position to that lie was another lie. It was doing what comes naturally. And it isn’t what American soldiers, or anyone else, should have to die for. That’s the state of the nation.
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY spent five weeks in October-December in Pakistan, with a visit to Afghanistan. He can be reached through his website at www.briancloughley.com.