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Bush Admin's 'Language Of Lying' Orwellian....

From the radio newsmagazine
Between The Lines
Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release April 23, 2004

Critic Charges Bush Administration's "Language of Lying" Transformed into "an Orwellian Artform"

Interview with Robert Scheer, syndicated columnist and author, conducted by Scott Harris

Listen in RealAudio:

As violence was exploding in Iraq, the nation turned its attention to the testimony of President Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. Under oath, Rice confirmed the existence of a classified Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing which was titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S." Although the national security advisor characterized the document as historical and not warning of specific threats from al Qaeda, later declassification of the briefing paper revealed intelligence indicating that al Qaeda was active in the U.S. and making preparations for the possible hijacking of airplanes.

Meanwhile, in escalating attacks on coalition forces in Iraq, insurgents battled U.S. troops in the city of Fallujah, where 600 Iraqi civilians and combatants are reported to have been killed. Armed militia groups loyal to Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr took over several cities after the U.S. sought the arrest of the young Muslim leader. Large numbers of American-trained Iraqi police and military have refused to fight, abandoned their posts or joined the forces challenging the U.S. occupation. In the past week alone, 70 U.S. soldiers have been killed, while insurgents have kidnapped dozens of foreign workers, including at least one American truck driver. In the face of growing instability in Iraq, U.S Middle East commander General John Abizaid has asked the Pentagon for 15,000 to 20,000 more troops.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with syndicated columnist Robert Scheer, who is a co-author of the book, "The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told us About Iraq." Scheer assesses the truthfulness of Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission and the current military situation confronting U.S. troops in Iraq.

Robert Scheer: The language of lying in this administration has been taken to an Orwellian art form. It's just that words don't mean anything, you know, and it's been that way from the beginning, you know. Eighty percent of the people believed Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and then these people, the administration says, "Where did they get that idea from?" And they never mentioned 9/11 without mentioning Saddam Hussein. And it's always like that, the twisting and her (Condoleezza Rice's) testimony about a document they didn't want to release at a hearing they didn't want to have happen; it's the most amazing thing -? here you have the greatest tragedy on the mainland of the United States. The most obvious thing would be to look into its origins.

This administration from the beginning wasn't interested in having a bipartisan commission, then it tried to appoint Henry Kissinger to be head of it, you know, the greatest manipulator in the world. Then it wouldn't cooperate, wouldn't turn over documents and so forth. This is an example of a document (the Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing) that they said they couldn't turn over because of national security. Well, there's no national security involved. What there is, is cover-up.

Then she tried to dismiss it by saying it was a historical document. Well, by history, if you mean something that happened before today, I suppose it is. But, it basically undermined her main notion, which is that the threat that had been heard were all involved in external locations and as (Sept. 11 commissioner Richard) Ben-Veniste got her to admit before they even declassified the document, this was about planned bin Laden attacks on the United States, and the existence of (al Qaeda) agents in the United States, and explosives and the ability to do such actions.

So, it was a clear refutation. I think she committed perjury. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that she totally distorted the meaning of the document. It does give the lie to the administration that they prepared us before 9/11 when we know from (the former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul) O'Neill's book, we know it from (former counterterrorism White House Richard) Clarke's book. We certainly documented it in our own "5 Lies" ("The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq," ) book that they in no way prepared us for terrorist attack; they were preoccupied with the drug war, and counting missile weapons, and Iraq. That was their focus and they were actually indifferent to all the warnings that had come from the Clinton administration's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, and were coming with greater frequency and intensity right up through August (2001) about a terror attack on the United States.

Between The Lines: As we've all witnessed an explosion of violence, rebellion and uprisings throughout Iraqi society -- the Sunnis, the Shiites, and just ordinary people -- are growing very hostile to the United States occupation. Maybe you can talk about the reality that the United States military is confronting now in Iraq and does the Bush administration in your view, have a plan to get out?

Robert Scheer: You know, I personally went to Vietnam in '63 and '64 and I remember people even then telling me we couldn't just get out, OK? I think we had 13,000 troops the first time I went.

In the movie, "Fog of War," Robert McNamara's saying "You can't just get out, " and there were only 700 ?- I shouldn't say 'only', they're 700 human beings ?- but there were 700 Americans who had been killed and then 59,000 get killed and then you finally get out. And the best way to get out is to just leave. And there's a mechanism for getting out. You let the U.N., the Arab League, NATO, a combination thereof -- people who know the language, the religion, and you let them help that country attain stability. But certainly in the last week, we've seen the lie to the main argument against getting out, because we said there would be a civil war and the Sunnis and Shiites would kill each other.

Well, the fact is, we have managed to unite the Sunnis and the Shiites. That is incredible. Our occupation has actually given rise to a nationalist fervor in Iraq, which has brought people together. We're creating this insurgency; it's not being brought in by foreign agitators. That's not pro-Hussein ?- nobody wants to bring Saddam Hussein back. People like freedom, but they want to define their freedom. They want to define it consistent with their religion, with their traditions, with their needs, and in a country that was artificially put together by colonial powers who wanted better to extract the oil.

It's not going to be easy. They'll have to figure out what form of government, because you have the Kurds and you have two different forms of the Muslim religion. But I think what we've seen ?- at least with the Muslims -- is that they can get along quite well. They're giving blood to each other. They're supporting each other. And even the Iraqi National Council, which is supposed to be our government that we put in, they're the ones that are complaining that they weren't even consulted about this (the assault on Fallujah), and they're the ones that are trying to broker the ceasefire now, because they know if they don't, they'll have no credibility with the Iraqi people. And what the Iraqi people have clearly said is they've had it with the occupation. They've just had it with foreigners coming into their houses and throwing them out.

Right now, I think the actions of the last week basically say, "Look, these people clearly want to run their own country, that was the reason for going in. There are no weapons of mass destruction, that was the main reason for going in, so what's the reason for staying?" And getting out doesn't mean we don't supply economic aid; it doesn't mean we won't work through the U.N., it doesn't mean that we don't help the Arab League get in there.

The biggest mistake we made was going in unilaterally, and then trying to get contracts for the president's friends at Halliburton and Bechtel. You've got people rolling all over country trying to cut deals like crazy so the French and the Russians won't get back in. And you've got to separate, you've got to separate greed and economics and oil from the right of people to control their own history. And people want to make their own history. Sometimes, they mess it up, sometimes, you know, it can even be worse. But they have to make their own history. That's the main lesson here.

Syndicated columnist Robert Scheer is co-author with Christopher Scheer and Lakshmi Choudrhy of the book, "The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq," published by Seven Stories Press.

Visit our website at for more links:

"Check the Facts Before Rushing to War
"Iraq: Exit Here By Democracy's Door,"
"The Beginning of The End," Robert Scheer,, April 6, 2004
"Commission on 9/11 Criticizes Ashcroft"
"Condi's Cover-up Caves In" and more ...


Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines (, for the week ending April 23, 2004. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Anna Manzo and Scott Harris.

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