Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The White House And Forgery

A long time ago I wrote a couple times perhaps here but more likely on another blog about my belief that it's actually more likely that the CIA was on-board with Bush's wanting the Iraq war and lying to the nation and the world to get into it, contrary to what some news stories may have made it sound like. This seems like a good time to kind of re-hash those kinds of concerns here.

First of all, check out this short post on Washington Monthly about an incident of the White House allegedly pressuring the CIA to lie for them, and another incident of the White House allegedly pressuring the FBI to lie for them. The important thing to notice here is that the stories make it sound like the White House had to push these guys into cooperating with them.

Then here are my comments in response:

Kevin wrote: Maybe it's coincidence. Maybe all these sources are full of shit.

Here's a theory that is a little more appropriate to people like the Republicans: maybe some of 'em are true and some are false. Let's say your wife caught you cheating three times. You've already been caught cheating-- three allegations made against you have turned out to be true-- and the world didn't end, but what you really want her to believe is that you're leaving certain property in your will to her and not your son. So you let her find out you were cheating again, but you get the detail about the property included in the story. She's inclined to believe stories about you cheating now, because they turned out to be true three times before. So when you candidly admit, "Well, Candy came in the room, just about as I was changing my will to leave the vintage VW to you instead of Michael..." it adds an air of truth (in her eyes) to the detail you really want to get her to believe in what ostensibly is a statement you are making to admit guilt about cheating. The country is already ready to believe the Bush administration lied to get us into this war. That's a news story worth reporting. But maybe there is something else they want to get us to believe, too (things like that the CIA and FBI aren't helping them lie to us, or that the media isn't corrupt in favor of the Republicans). They are wily enough to do it that way.

I'm not saying that this is what is happening this time, just that this is the level of "game" on which they operate-- this is the kind of media manipulation they do and are capable of. They are people who have been lying their whole lives and put some craft into it.

Let's say someone wants to get you to believe a lie about a specific person. They may first on a few ocassions report to the target of the lie that they saw the specific person engaging in certain activity that the target of the lie knows the specific person is capable of. From these reports, the target of the lie comes to believe that the liar supplies accurate information on the person. But then on the 10th ocassion, the liar reports the same behavior again plus something a little bit worse-- but it's an untrue allegation. The target of the lie is more likely to believe it, though, because of how they've been set up, and especially if the behavior lied about isn't so extreme that they could picture the person lied about engaging in it (sometimes that old saw about "the big lie" really doesn't hold water). Similarly, if the liars lie too big at first and can't get people to believe it, they may recognize their mistake and try again, accusing the target of more realistic (but still objectionable and still untrue) behavior.

Consider that the Republicans have an incentive to make it look like the FBI and the CIA are nonpartisan. The Republicans' ultimate goal is one-party rule. But people distrust and dislike their government when they feel like political orthodoxy is being enforced on them-- like they are being oppressed. That makes it hard to have one-party rule.

We hear a lot about the CIA and the FBI resisting pushy partisan behavior by the White House, but that doesn't mean that's really the way it happened. And the most persuasive lie is the one that is as close to the truth as possible, except for the point you really need to lie about. Lie about whether Bush would lie about the Iraq war? Maybe. Lie about it if the CIA and FBI are almost in absolute lockstep with the White House on issues like torture and lying to start an Iraq war? Absolutely.

Some people might say that the idea that "the most persuasive lie is the one that is as close to the truth as possible, except for the point you really need to lie about" flies in the face of what has become conventional (I would call it banal) "wisdom" about "the big lie," but my answer is that if a little lie is something that sounds plausible to people who are ignorant enough to believe it, and something that people want to believe-- like that the CIA, NSA, FBI or the Air Force isn't about as ideological as Jesus Camp-- then the lie is a believeable one.

The Republicans-- people whose goal is one-party rule (basically destroying or outlawing opposing parties like the Democratic party, not just beating them in a lot of elections)-- also have an incentive to intentionally leak details about the WH forging documents or otherwise lying to get into the Iraq war, when the time is right (that is, when they don't think the President or the party will get into trouble because of it). This is because they want to build a movement characterized by beliefs like the belief that it was ok to lie to the nation to go to war in Iraq. If you always hide it, you can never start that movement. I guess you could have some measly pundit make the case, but it's a lot more persuasive and dramatic if someone like a Republican President just leads by example.