Dec 06, 2008
He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it
much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes
- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr
is with a sense of loss that the columnist begins cleaning out files
filled with examples of a corrupt administration that beg to be exposed
to the light of day. After all, there will be little sense in
demonstrating the corruptness of George Bush and Dick Cheney when they
have been converted from constitutional terrorists to pathetic
footnotes. However, a few weeks remain to take advantage of the saved
clippings and this week we examine two examples of how lying was used
in ways not heretofore widely noted. (Lying, of course, will be as much
a legacy of George W. Bush as the use of torture on people and the English
language.) No description of Bush lies would be complete without at
least one reference to Iraq.
Two days before the day on
which the entire country was to give thanks that George Bush had less
than two months left in the White House, we learned about the lie we
were told as to which countries were in the group that Mr. Bush
baptized "the coalition of the willing." The list of coalition members
that he presented to the country was, we have now learned, faked, not
once, but repeatedly. The disclosure was the result of the work of two
University of Illinois researchers whose findings were reported in the New York Times.
Scott Althaus and Kalev Leetaru of the Cline Center for Democracy at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign made the discovery when
trying to figure out what countries the "Coalition of the Willing"
comprised. Here is what they found.
They discovered that the
list of nations that made up the Coalition of the Willing was
repeatedly altered by the administration without disclosing the fact
that it had been altered. In a real-life situation when a government
list that is posted on the internet is altered, the fact of its
alteration is obvious because the altered list has a different date
from the original publication. In the make-believe world inhabited by
George Bush there is no need to make such disclosure. Thus, Messrs.
Althaus and Kalev discovered that description of the members of the
Coalition of the Willing was published five times and each time it
retained the date shown on the original list even though countries'
names had been added or removed.
The first list was
published on March 21, 2003, the day after George launched his Crusade.
According to the report, the coalition comprised 46 countries. One
month later Angola and Ukraine wanted to be added hoping, one assumes,
to win favor with George Bush even though by the time they joined the
war had begun. The original list was revised to add them and retained
the date of March 21,2003 so those countries would not appear to be
Johnnys Come Lately. Each time the list was revised it retained the
original publication date so that only someone really interested in the
identity of the coalition partners would discover the fabrication that
accompanied the publication.
On the same day that we learned of the fabricated lists we learned from the Washington Post
and other sources that the Labor Department lied to Congress in order
to lead it to believe that "competitive sourcing" was working.
George Bush something called "competitive sourcing" was begun. The
process involved contracting to private firms, work that was ordinarily
performed by government employees. In 2003 when the program was begun
the White House believed that 858,000 federal jobs were commercial and roughly half should be "competitively sourced." The program was described in a memorandum issued by the Office of Management and Budget.
to the General Accounting Office, the Labor Department lied to Congress
by understating the expense of contracting out work to the private
sector. According to the GAO: "DOL's savings reports are not reliable:
a sample of three reports contained inaccuracies, and others used
projections when actual numbers were available, which sometimes
resulted in overstated savings." As a result, said the GAO, it could
not determine if the Bush way saved money. Commenting on the report,
Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin observed that
the actions the department had taken had hurt workers' morale and the
department had "grossly overstated savings." (Anyone wondering if the
failure of private enterprise to perform better than government
enterprise is unique to the Department of Labor is referred to
reconstruction in Iraq.)
According to the GAO,
competitive outsourcing has been used by the Forest Service, the
Defense Department, Homeland Security Department and other agencies
when reporting on the cost savings they believed they had achieved.
Correctly identifying the savings is less important than creating the
impression of savings. Impressions are, after all, more important than
reality in the Bush world. One reality, however, does exist, even in
the Bush world. In less than 6 weeks the nightmare that was George Bush
will end and the country will awaken to a new day.
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