FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Criminalize Political Lies to Save Planet Earth

by CARMEN YARRUSSO

If we lie to our government it’s a serious crime. Why isn’t it an even more serious crime when our government lies to us? If crime is willful action that harms others, and we punish crime based on the extent of its harm, why aren’t we criminalizing and severely punishing political lies, which often result in great harm including massive death and suffering throughout the world?

Planet earth and all but a tiny fraction of her inhabitants are being systematically raped and plundered by a corporate power structure that virtually owns the U.S. government. If there’s an activity that can make money by destroying our planet or killing millions of our fellow human beings, you can bet the U.S. government is actively promoting that activity. This immense, continuing crime against humanity (and nature) is being justified and sustained with big, fat political lies. If we don’t start criminalizing political lies and severely punishing our lying politicians, we’ll get more inequality, we’ll get more destruction of our natural resources, we’ll get more wars, we’ll get even more extreme human suffering that will progress until the downtrodden of the world finally revolt in desperation.

The Extreme Depravity of Political Lies

This isn’t about benign lies or compassionate lies aimed at easing suffering. This is about egregious deception unambiguously intended to further political ends with blatant disregard for the lie’s harmful consequences and with little or no accounting by our lying politicians. Unfortunately this class of lies is the lifeblood of the U.S. political system, a system that is inexorably destroying life on earth.

Without lies, the U.S. political system would disintegrate. A system claiming to work for the people, but obviously working for special interests, must necessarily be based on lies. Corporations and lobbyists pay politicians big money to pass legislation that benefits them, not the American people. But since our politicians obviously can’t admit they frequently support special-interest legislation, they must lie. Our political system proudly rewards lying, with the best liars reaping the biggest rewards.

A lie is a betrayal of trust. Our personal lies might betray a spouse or a few friends, but the ramifications are usually quite limited. But when government representatives lie, for example to justify war, the betrayal could easily extend to all of humanity and even to the earth itself with severe, possibly irreversible, negative ramifications. Political lies kill big time (consider Afghanistan and Iraq). Political lies plunder. Political lies cause countless forms of extreme human suffering. Political lies are used to excuse the most heinous behavior. This class of lying, the very lifeblood of the U.S. political system, is clearly criminal by any just definition of the term. Yet this moral abomination continues, not only unpunished, but handsomely rewarded.

Imagine if political lies were criminalized prior to the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq

The invasion probably couldn’t have happened. Without the lies, there was no moral justification for war. Had members of the Bush administration been facing serious jail time if caught promoting political lies, those flimsy, deceptive arguments for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) wouldn’t have surfaced. If political lies were criminalized they wouldn’t have dared to try to pass off a sleazy character called Curveball as a reliable source, they wouldn’t have tried to pass off crude rocket bodies as aluminum tubes for centrifuges, they wouldn’t have tried to pass off a flatbed truck for inflating target balloons as a mobile weapons lab, they wouldn’t have tried to pass off obviously forged documents on Niger uranium as real, and Colin Powell wouldn’t have spouted out all those dramatic lies at the UN.

If he knew he faced certain jail time for lying, President Bush wouldn’t have said, ” The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” while conveniently ignoring the CIA and State Department reports questioning its veracity.

But with no consequences for lying to the American people, our politicians were able to cavalierly inflict vast death and destruction on millions of innocent Iraquis while billing U.S. taxpayers trillions. Billions in war profits poured into politically connected corporations. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. All the result of a pack of big, fat, legal political lies. Now Obama threatens to launch a sequel in Syria based (of course) on more political lies.

The Nature of Political Lies

Political lies aren’t limited to making false statements. There are political lies by omission when politicians fail to mention known facts and evidence that undermine their positions (as Bush did about African uranium). Perhaps the most harmful and ubiquitous political lie is evasion. Our politicians are almost never required to clearly explain and justify their positions. They’re free to spout out deceptive (often emotional) nonsense that many gullible Americans readily believe while they staunchly evade giving a clear explanation and justification for their positions. They staunchly evade answering cogent counterarguments. With the stakes as high as they are, this common, willful, and blatant form of intellectual dishonesty by politicians should be a very serious crime.

For example, our lying politicians are threatening war with Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but they staunchly evade explaining why they believe Iranian leaders would even think about using a nuclear weapon knowing full well their country would be utterly destroyed if they did. Our lying politicians staunchly evade discussing a much more likely reason for their dire concerns – Iran would have an effective deterrent should U.S. politicians contemplate stealing its oil using massive military might as they tried in Iraq.

Enough Death and Destruction – Actions We Must Take to Effectively Criminalize Political Lies

The people of the world must unite to criminalize the ruthless plague that’s devouring our precious planet earth. We can’t expect our lying politicians to voluntarily stop lying to us when they profit so much from their lies. We the people must unite and emphatically demand strict intellectual honesty from our politicians by making political lies a very serious crime with very serious penalties.

But criminalizing political lies won’t be effective if our politicians can simply avoid getting caught lying. If we are to effectively prosecute our lying politicians, we need a reliable way to not only quickly detect political lies, but also an efficient way to collect incriminating evidence of deceit. Thanks to the amazing power of the Internet, we already have a way (using the exact infrastructure used by Wikipedia) that would instantly detect political lies, including evasion, and document evidence of deceit for prosecuting lying politicians.

There’s a (proposed) software tool called WikiArguments that could be used by law enforcement as a powerful political lie detector and evidence collector. WikiArguments is an Internet-based (wiki) system developed in 2008 by software engineer, Carmen Yarrusso, that, if adopted by Congress, would force congressional accountability and make government deception virtually impossible to hide. It would provide a secure mechanism for anonymous public (wiki) arguments to expose government deception, but, more importantly, it would also provide a simple system of forced accountability where members of Congress could no longer evade giving us clear, rational justifications for their positions. For details, see WikiArguments. ( http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WikiArguments)

WikiArguments imposes just one requirement on our politicians: they must explain and justify their positions, in writing, transparently posted on the WikiArguments website. That’s it. Warning to politicians: any attempt at deceit would be exposed and challenged almost instantly for all the world to see.

Conclusion

The U.S political system is a deeply corrupt, criminal enterprise largely sustained by ruthless political lies. Our political system handsomely rewards liars while severely punishing truth tellers (see Drake, Manning, Snowden). In the service of political lies, the U.S. government has flipped morality on its head.

We the people have every right to demand strict intellectual honesty from our politicians. Stop the lies, save planet earth.

Shout it from the streets, shout it from the rooftops, “Criminalize political lies, criminalize political lies, criminalize political lies…”

Carmen Yarrusso, a software engineer for 35 years, designed and modified computer operating systems (including Internet software). He has a BS in physics and studied game theory and formal logic during his years with the math department at Brookhaven National Lab. He lives in New Hampshire and often writes about uncomfortable truths.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
David Penner
When Patient Rights Do Not Exist
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
April 27, 2017
Darlene Dubuisson – Mark Schuller
“You Live Under Fear”: 50,000 Haitian People at Risk of Deportation
Karl Grossman
The Crash of Cassini and the Nuclearization of Space
Robert Hunziker
Venezuela Ablaze
John W. Whitehead
Trump’s America is a Constitution-Free Zone
Ron Jacobs
One Hundred Years That Shook the World
Judith Deutsch
Convenient Untruths About “Human Nature:” Can People Deal with Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons?
Don Fitz
Is Pope Francis the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Climate Stability?
Thomas Mountain
Africa’s War Lord Queen: The Bloodstained Career of Liberia’s Eleanor Sirleaf Johnson
Binoy Kampmark
Short Choices: the French Presidential Elections
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Monetizing My Mouth
Michael Barker
Of Union Dreams and Nightmares: Cesar Chavez and Why Funding Matters
Elier Ramirez Cañedo
“Let Venezuela give me a way of serving her, she has in me a son.”
Paul Mobbs
Cellphones, WIFI and Cancer: Will Trump’s Budget Cuts Kill ‘Electrosmog’ Research?
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The Closing of Rikers: a Survival Strategy of the Carceral State
April 26, 2017
Richard Moser
Empire Abroad, Empire At Home
Stan Cox
For Climate Justice, It’s the 33 Percent Who’ll Have to Pick Up the Tab
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Machine Called Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
The Dilemma for Intelligence Agencies
Christy Rodgers
Remaining Animal
Joseph Natoli
Facts, Opinions, Tweets, Words
Mel Gurtov
No Exit? The NY Times and North Korea
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Women on the Move: Can Three Women and a Truck Quell the Tide of Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse?
Michael J. Sainato
Trump’s Wikileaks Flip-Flop
Manuel E. Yepe
North Korea’s Antidote to the US
Kim C. Domenico
‘Courting Failure:’ the Key to Resistance is Ending Animacide
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer
Andrew Stewart
The People vs. Bernie Sanders
Daniel Warner
“Vive La France, Vive La République” vs. “God Bless America”
April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail