Our Government Lies. Deal With It.


Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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60 Responses

  1. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    Regarding the INC lies leading to the Iraq War, one could reasonably debate whether that should be considered a lie by the US government. INC received funding from the US government, but it might be a stretch to call them an extension of the administration.Report

  2. Avatar Art Deco says:

    “Governments” do not lie. The people employed by them do. You have to ask yourself

    1. Under what circumstances; and
    2. How frequently and under what circumstances as compared to ordinary people; and
    3. By what social processes are people recruited into and retained in the political class such that that class might contain an inordinate number of dishonest people?

    Speaking impressionistically, I tend to doubt politicians are more dishonest than higher education apparatchicks or the public interest bar.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Art Deco says:

      When I say a government lies, I mean that the entity recognized as that nation’s government makes a claim about the state of the world that does not match the actual state of the world. It is sometimes useful to understand the mechanism by which the government communicates lies might be people employed by them or the White House blog or carrier pigeons, but I don’t know if that’s relevant to this particular post.
      Your three questions are important. I did in fact answer the first by providing a number of examples of circumstances. Your second question is also perhaps important, but difficult to answer as phrased. I can go on the street and ask for directions and never get a knowing lie in reply. But these are cases where no purpose is served in guiding me wrong. When the government lies, it is because they see a purpose in doing so.

      Your third question is *really* important. I don’t have a ready answer though.Report

      • On the third question, I think it’s almost self-evident that a political class would be more dishonest than the average person; success in politics most frequently requires a certain ability to appear to be all things to all people, or at least all people within a fairly large political grouping. This of course is inordinately difficult unless you’re pretty good at lying, so liars will be far more likely to move beyond the ranks of phone bank operator.

        However, the persistence of certain types of lies which you identify here suggests that this is less an issue of lies driven by the political class so much as it is an issue of lies driven by permanent government institutions and acquiesced to by politicians.

        I don’t even necessarily think that people who work for government institutions are any more prone to be liars in their private lives than average people, though for the reason stated below this is probably somewhat less true of the CIA and NSA. But it’s not exactly a unique insight that even the best of us are far more prone to lie when doing so serves our interests. It’s also not a unique interest that when we become part of an organization, especially one with a specific mission, we tend to treat the organization’s interests as indistinguishable from our own.

        The security and intelligence agencies in particular have extraordinarily narrow missions; they also (understandably) take extraordinary steps to make sure that the people they hire will be particularly loyal to those missions, and thus will be particularly likely to view their interests as bound to the agency’s interests.

        Add to that the fact that the CIA and NSA’s missions effectively require them to act clandestinely with respect to foreigners, something that cannot be accomplished without a fair amount of lying, which is thus not only legally authorized but in fact borders on being legally mandated.

        Few among us in that situation would view lying domestically to protect the agencies’ interests as much more than a white lie, even if it is an especially problematic lie to an objective observer.Report

  3. “The government lies. Deal with it.”
    “When others tell you the truth, they are prosecuted. Deal with it.”
    “Oh yeah, and in this country we have a democracy. We the people are in charge.”

    One would think that somewhere hereabouts, something’s simply gotta give.Report

    • Yes. And it will be the third item that gives. And if it must not give, we will redefine “democracy” until it does.Report

      • So… we’re on an inexorable slide toward dictatorship, and the only question left is what we call it?Report

      • No, not “dictatorship” exactly. I think it’s actually about having a more normal, realistic definition of democracy rather than the sparkling-unicorn definitions people use now.

        What we need a definition of democracy that is consistent with a government lying to its people. Rather than “of, by, and for the people”, it should probably be “of the elite, by the people, and for the country’s continued existence in a state as close to the current one as possible.”

        That isn’t quite as snappy though.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Jason, I’m not seeing the causal chain that leads from the inevitability of governments, even quasi-democratic ones, lying to dictatorship. Is there a piece missing? Perhaps you’re adding the government lying to the continual effort by the executive branch to increase its power?

        It seems to me, by the way, that governments lying to perpetuate themselves rather favors a broader political and, in our system, wealthy elite. If anything, it’s a system that slides towards plutocracy rather than dictatorship.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        What you deride as “sparkling-unicorn definitions” of democracy I would say are norms that, while obviously never perfectly enacted, are still necessary even to have a democracy at all.

        That is, I’m not inclined to be so cavalier about dismissing public accountability. If the government lies (which it does), why are you (apparently) completely fine with the arrest and imprisonment of journalists? Why mock the people who complain about this stuff as having “sparkling-unicorn definitions” of democracy?Report

      • If the government lies (which it does), why are you (apparently) completely fine with the arrest and imprisonment of journalists?

        I’m sorry I gave that impression. I am not fine with it.

        Why mock the people who complain about this stuff as having “sparkling-unicorn definitions” of democracy?

        “Mock” sounds harsh. What I mean is that they have a naive optimism about what democracy actually is. It’s sweet, but unrealistic given the implementation of it that I’ve lived under.

        What you deride as “sparkling-unicorn definitions” of democracy I would say are norms that, while obviously never perfectly enacted, are still necessary even to have a democracy at all.

        If one of the norms we are talking about is “being truthful when speaking to the public”, then we have to conclude we don’t really live in a real democracy. I think a generally more useful definition for the word does allow for such behavior, but as long as we are agreed on what the US government actually is, debating whether or not to call it a democracy about words and not about the state of reality.Report

  4. Avatar Mo says:

    Corporations Lies. Deal With It. Martha Stewart went to prison for lying to the police. Clapper should keep his job for lying at a Congressional hearing? Is it too much to ask that those with access to the lever of state power be held to the same standard as private citizens?Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mo says:

      Why would they, when the people holding those levers want corporate leaders to have access?Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Mo says:

      The Martha Stewart investigation was a bit of a farce. It’s one of the quintessential examples of why you should never, ever talk to the police.

      When corporations lie, a bit of me dies. I do, however, acknowledge that it happens, and as a result whenever I read an annual report, I interpret every statement with as much cynicism as possible. I’ve learned that by observing the pattern. When profits are down, they talk up revenue growth. When same store sales are down, they talk up profit growth.

      You know things are really bad when all they have to talk up is a strategy.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        So blatantly lying in a Congressional hearing should have zero consequences? This seems utterly wrong. If a CEO blatant lies of something of magnitude about the company’s performance to his/her board, they should also lose their job.Report

      • You’re using this “should” word. When you use that word, I agree. Lies *should* have consequences.

        But we live in a world in which many lies do not have consequences. If one of us becomes an attorney general somewhere, we can do something about it directly. Until then, we will at least benefit from seeing the world as it really is instead of what we wish it would be.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        You said, “There are some crazy people calling for him to be prosecuted and/or fired.” That seems to be judging the opinion that Clapper *should* be fired as a crazy point of view, since Kaplan isn’t typically considered on the loony side of the left/right/center.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z aitch in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Mo, Vikram has a sense of sarcasm and isn’t afraid to use it.Report

      • I was indeed being sarcastic-ish.

        In these comments, I’ve exposed myself as among the crazies. The reason I call people who call for him to be fired is that it is not controllable by us. We might as well call for the sun to shine less brightly to correct for greenhouse gas emissions.

        I guess what I am saying is that you can want something that is good and even deserve that thing, but if it is not something that any amount of action on your part can attain, then you ought to find a more productive use of your time.

        For me, I felt it would be productive to write this post so we can at least lower the damage that men like Clapper will produce within this particular audience. I feel that is an attainable goal whereas getting Clapper prosecuted is not.

        Incidentally, this is why I don’t vote either. I’m doubtful of my ability to influence an election by punching a ballot. I would probably be willing to say people who vote are crazy too.Report

  5. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Thing is, if they lie about big things & get away with it, then they will be more than willing to lie about little things as well, which makes it hard to believe anything our governments tell us.Report

  6. Avatar NoPublic says:

    Serious question:

    Someone asks you a direct question about a government program, the existence of which is classified, the nature of which is classified, and the output of which is classified. A reply of “I’m unable to comment on classified materiel” would violate your oaths and reveal the program. A reply of “If such a program existed, I would be unable to comment on it because it would be classified” *might* work, but would be likely to be regarded as evasive and non-responsive in the media and would be regarded as a lie once the program became public. At what point is the answer “There is no such program” the only reasonable response, even if it’s blatantly un-true? If the media can de-classify anything merely by asking about it on camera, what’s the point of classifying it in the first place?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NoPublic says:

      “No comment.”Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to NoPublic says:

      That is a good question NP. In general you are correct, for a subset of gov programs that must be kept absolutely secret then even answering that you can’t say anything is giving away info. I think the problem is that very few programs need to be kept that secret. That the CIA apparently admitted that Area 51 exists is one of those things that is secret only the sense they aren’t allowed to admit it but is openly known and not really secret in any meaningful way. I’d say very few things really need to be kept so secret they can’t even be admitted. Most things can be talked about at least in a general way without disclosing details.Report

      • Avatar Herb in reply to greginak says:

        “I’d say very few things really need to be kept so secret they can’t even be admitted.”

        Agreed. Hate to say it, though, based on the reaction to the revelations that the NSA spies on people, I think there’s a lot of “can’t handle the truth” going around.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to greginak says:

        I think the problem is that very few programs need to be kept that secret.

        I would rephrase this as a security maxim:

        “Assume the existence of a system S, which provides a function. If general knowledge of the existence of S would seriously degrade or eliminate its function, it eventually needs to be replaced by S’ which provides the same function, without the degradation in capability should its existence become known.”

        Or, the pithy version:

        “Security by obscurity is generally pretty shitty security”Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak says:

        As far as keeping the bad guys in the dark, any AQ member who didn’t think we were trying to spy on their e-mails and other electronic communication is dumb, useless, dumb and useless and possibly a red herring to keep us busy who they don’t care about.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to NoPublic says:

      You’ll note *I* haven’t called on Clapper to resign. I’m just calling him a liar. If he resigned, he would be replaced with another liar who might be otherwise less qualified. If the administration changes and he is replaced with a Republican appointee, that person will also be a liar.

      The point isn’t that the NSA is evil. The point is that when the NSA tells you things like “We are not collecting data on Americans” or “We have more oversight than anyone else” or “We do not systematically violate our court orders” you should not really pay any attention because they would say those things irrespective of whether it is true or not.

      If anything, the man who asked him the question is more at fault, because he provided the venue for Clapper to appear to be conveying information when he was not.Report

      • If anything, the man who asked him the question is more at fault, because he provided the venue for Clapper to appear to be conveying information when he was not.

        I don’t think this is fair. The person who asked the question (Ron Wyden) was one of the handful of people aware of the correct answer, but was prohibited from disclosing the correct answer himself. That person also strongly believes that the subject of that correct answer is illegal, and is uniquely qualified to draw that conclusion. That person is also well aware that no one has the ability to change this illegal-in-his-eyes policy through the courts.

        The only way to force the NSA to change the policy thus, is to bring political pressure to bear. But it’s only possible to bring political pressure to bear to change the policy if enough people know of its existence to want to change it. And the only way to do that short of subjecting himself to all sorts of consequences (not least of which would be the removal of one of the only people on the intel committees with any concern for civil liberties) was to try to get Clapper to admit to it publicly.Report

      • Mark, I agree with every word of that.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        I’m pretty sure that Wyden can afford a better attorney than I can.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        The person who asked the question (Ron Wyden) was one of the handful of people aware of the correct answer, but was prohibited from disclosing the correct answer himself.

        If we think that Snowden was justified in making his revelations, then we ought to think that Wyden (and other informed Congressmembers (new word!)) would have been justified in revealing what he knew. Indeed, in my view, we ought to think he was bound by his oath to reveal what he knew, in large part because he could have done so with more legal protection (and constitutional justification) than Snowden had.

        Ron Wyden could have simply gone to the Senate floor and revealed what he knew at any time. He did not have to force the DNI into the position of essentially, as No Public points out, choosing between which of his duties (to not lie to Congress or to not to effectively reveal the existence of classified programs, a duty of particular importance in the USG’s current set-up for the DNI as compared to MoCs) to abrogate in order to make public generic descriptions of these programs of the kind he addressed to DNI Clapper while under legal penalty of lying to Congress.

        Now, this does not account for the difference between what Wyden may have known and (and been able to document) and what Snowden did, so it’s not the case that Wyden could have spurred debate or informed the public as much as Snowden did, but he (and many other MoCs) could have done much more to inform the public than he did long before a figure like Snowden became motivated enough to do what he did, possibly effecting enough debate and public information to save someone like Snowden losing his freedom and save the government from having to deal with the kind of damaging leak that it’s still trying to deal with internally today.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to NoPublic says:

      New Zealand’s Official Information Act contains a provision about refusing requests where responding to them would be injurious to national security, I assume FOIA has a similar provision. Hell, that what the whole “we can neither confirm nor deny” phrasing is all about.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to James K says:

        Well when you only use that phrasing when there is something to hide, you might as well be screaming it from the rooftops.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to James K says:

        That’s true, Murali. But you can avoid that by not confirming or denying things you do actually have nothing to do with. If you ask “did you blow up the Moon?” and the response is “we can neither confirm nor deny”, then the phrasing would be effective in both being truthful and not communicating anything that ought not be communicated.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James K says:

        Area 51. Area fucking 51. Read the history on how badly we (collectively) fucked up that intelligence test. It is bloody hilarious.Report

      • Avatar kenB in reply to James K says:

        Well when you only use that phrasing when there is something to hide, you might as well be screaming it from the rooftops.

        Reminds me of that bit in The Pepsi Syndrome:

        Female Reporter #1: Yes, is it true that the president is 100 feet tall?
        Ross Denton: Nooooo! Absolutely not!
        Male reporter #3: Is the president 90 feet tall?
        Ross Denton: No comment.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to NoPublic says:

      “A reply of “If such a program existed, I would be unable to comment on it because it would be classified” *might* work, but would be likely to be regarded as evasive and non-responsive in the media and would be regarded as a lie once the program became public.”

      Why would that be regarded as a lie? You didn’t say “there is no program”. You didn’t say “I don’t know anything about the program”. Clearly people can say “oh well you’re just being an evasive doubletalking coward”, but that’s their fault for asking you about a classified program in the first place and expecting a straight answer.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        Right. It would be more likely to be noted as the non-denial non-denial that it would be – which is implicitly effectively a confirmation. And in these matters, where issues of revealing classified information is concerned, what matters to these people is what they regard as the effective implications of what they say, not just the legalistic ones. (I.e., “Have I effectively confirmed the existence of this program with what I’ve just said?” not just, “Have I widely enough avoided explicitly legalistically confirming it?”)

        People forget that while the imperative not to lie about these matters is a legal and a constitutional one, the imperative not to reveal classified national security one is, as a notional matter, first and foremost an operational and prudential one, and the legal imperative not to reveal derives only from the operational one (it’s just a law not a constitutional duty, and the law only exists for at least notionally operational/prudential reasons)..

        Now, whether any given piece of information is rightly classified is certainly a very legitimate way to break down the legitimacy of these considerations in any given case. But in any given case, people specially charged with keeping the nation’s secrets (though also with complying with the Constitution and all other laws) are going to be guided by the procedural and legal structures that have been put in place to advance the operational imperative that motivated them, and also by their view of the operational imperative at any given time. I.e., if the laws exist to prevent the effective confirmation of a classified program, then these people are going to act in such a way as to not effectively(!) reveal the existence of the program.

        Now, all that said, Ron Wyden asked a question that disregarded all of those considerations and unnecessarily forced the DNI to choose between doing what he would do in any other context (denying, not just not confirming), and following the law that bars him from lying to Congress. He should have followed the Senator’s lead and not confirmed. But it would have gone against everything in his understanding of the particular set of duties we particularly entrust to him (as opposed to the set we entrust to Ron Wyden or Barack Obama or John Roberts) to do so, and I’m that that’s how he feels about it. Having that strong a level of discomfort with revealing such info is one of the basic things we pay him for.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to NoPublic says:

      This bothered me when it arose in a much less serious context, about the authorship of Primary Colors (which was published anonymously.) Joe Klein had denied it was his book, so when it became clear that he had written it, he was branded a liar. This was unfair, because:

      1. A person is entitled to publish a book anonymously or pseudonymously
      2. When asked about it, any answer other than “no” gives the secret away

      If you don’t want to be lied to, don’t ask.Report

      • “No comment” could work as policy provided the government applies it consistently. You can even be a little creative in the ways in which you say “no comment”…
        Q: Did you create AIDS?
        A: If we did, that would be classified, and we don’t comment on classified programs.
        Q: Do you monitor any communications whatsoever?
        A: The answer to that question is classified
        Q: Is Barack Obama president?
        A: We are not at liberty to discuss whether there is or is not a president and if so whether or not that hypothetical president has a name.

        But it wouldn’t work if you’re a book author and the only question you are asked is “did you write this book?”Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Vikram, exactly. So, do we prefer that kind of set of responses or do we prefer them to comment on what they can comment on and then not comment where they think the imperative of falsely denying is not so strong that it’s necessary to do that, and then to falsely deny when forced to in a situation like the one Ron Wyden created?

        I’ve said my piece on that question.Report

      • I think Clapper *should* have gone the no-comment route. I understand that Wyden made that excruciatingly difficult, but like you said, he’s paid to occasionally sit in seats like that and be abused. Really, is it too much to ask that the National Intelligence Director be…evasive?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Meaning, when asked if our government has a president, he should also not comment, correct?Report

      • I was being a bit facetious about that one. Really, you just have to answer “no comment” about both things you actually have done and some things you could have done but didn’t actually do.

        To borrow from Mike’s example, if an author is asked whether he wrote one of two anonymous books, he should answer “no comment” to both, even if he only authored one of them. If he says “no” to one and “no comment” to the other, only then does he get in trouble.

        Similarly, when asked about ten different programs, the Director could say “no comment” to all ten safely even if some of the programs he is asked about are not really things they are doing.Report

  7. Avatar Damon says:

    @ Art Deco

    While “Governments” do not lie. The people employed by them do.” is literally true, let’s add, “those gov’t employees who know other gov’t employees have lied, and do nothing, essentially lie as well. It’s similiar to the “blue line”.

    It doesn’t matter why they lie. We’ve allowed them to do so by not creating consecquences for them when they do lie or when we catch them. And yes, that means if someone told a lie and is retired and the only thing we can do is take their pension away, we do it. A lie in public service should be almost equivilent to commiting capital murder. Gov’t workers are the public’s employees. We deserve to be told the truth. Anyone who can’t or won’t doesn’t deserve our trust or our employment. Full Stop.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Damon says:

      Just so. Governments do things like this because people let them get away with it. The same is true of practically any government malfeasance. The key is to stop accepting it as a necessary part of government, and to cast into the outer darkness any politician who engage in it – no exceptions, no excuses.Report

  8. Avatar Barry says:

    Vikram, one way of ‘dealing with it’ is to punish it whenever possible.Report

  9. Avatar Creon Critic says:

    Doesn’t the rule of law mean dealing with government untruths in a prescribed fashion? Particularly in contexts where the individuals are under oath, or even more basically, there’re professional norms that define the conduct of certain officials: prosecutors before judges, agency officials testifying before congress, etc. Is it naiveté to expect professionalism?

    when the government gives you information that reflects well on itself or provides itself justification to do something, you should assign that information no credence.

    This is a particularly difficult suggestion because it makes sorting the wheat from the the chaff really hard. How’re we to assess conspiracy theories about: AIDS being a government invention, 9/11 being an inside job, the Clintons assassinating various people, and so on and so forth, while hewing to the line that government information/justifications/explanations hold so very little credence. By all means, think critically about the motives of the people presenting information to you, but the presentation here appears quite far reaching and even fatalistic.

    Lastly, “government” as treated here is a bit monolithic. There are the three branches in the US, but also, even in parliamentary systems, there are intra-bureaucracy turf wars and struggles for resources/attention/power. Those can be used to successfully extract more accurate information from government as a whole.Report

    • Is it naiveté to expect professionalism?

      I have a hard time answering anything but “yes”. It’s just as naive as assuming that everyone follows the speed limit just because that’s what good drivers are supposed to do.

      Of course it’s not naive to bemoan the lack of professionalism, but don’t assume it is there.

      How’re we to assess conspiracy theories about: AIDS being a government invention, 9/11 being an inside job, the Clintons assassinating various people, and so on and so forth, while hewing to the line that government information/justifications/explanations hold so very little credence.

      This is an excellent question, but one that I think can be adequately answered without just relying on the government’s claims.
      AIDS being a government invention. If the US really did create AIDS, it would most certainly deny it. I thus find it particularly curious that someone would say “I know the US government didn’t create AIDS because the White House spokesperson said it didn’t.” The spokesperson would say that regardless. We do know, however, that (1) it seems unlikely that the government would plausibly think that creating AIDS would be in the nation’s interests and (2) creating a virus is hard and has only been done by intentionally by scientists in recent years. Creating a virus with particular characteristics like being an STD would be especially hard.
      9/11 being an inside job. The willingness of Al Qaeda to play a willing scapegoat would have been a huge risk. Also, there would be plenty of operational risk with so many agents playing the role of suicidal terrorists on planes and actually needing to commit suicide. A leak would have been likely from that group of people. Also with this theory, we face the problem of how the administration could convince itself that 9/11 would be a positive for the nation. There surely would have been easier ways.
      But I certainly don’t think 9/11 was not an inside job *because* George Bush told me he didn’t do it.

      the Clintons assassinating various people
      These really need to be evaluated on a case by case basis examining who was suspected of having been assassinated on what grounds and facing what alternative courses of action. Keep in mind that the US *has* assassinated people. If Assad turns up dead tomorrow and John Kerry says he had no idea what happened, I think it would be silly to take him at his word. Certainly there are plenty of other people who want him dead, which would reduce the probability that it was the US, but the US would still be a suspect independent of Kerry’s denials.

      “government” as treated here is a bit monolithic

      I think this is a valid critique. In places I did make sure to say “administration”, and I think all my examples relate to the administration rather than Congress or the judiciary.

      Of course, you could say that I am then treating the administration as monolithic, but I think that is largely fair. When an official of the administration speaks, he speaks on behalf of the administration unless his boss corrects him at the earliest opportunity. Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Creon Critic says:

      You look at evidence, you look at inconsistencies, you look at deliberate tampering.
      There’s Area 51 (oh, my god, what a botch and a fuckup).
      Then there’s the Kennedy Assassination (where there’s motive, method, and opportunity… and evidence that the probable culprits had attempted a coup years before).

      And then there’s most other nonsense.

      The admin really did breed superintelligent animals, at one point or another. Some were released (escaped?) to the wild.Report

  10. Avatar Stillwater says:

    You know, the beauty of both the meta-massage of this post as well as it’s content is that the time-difference between government’s ability to effectually lie to people and the realization that it’s a lie is beginning to collapse. We can detect this stuff in real time now, whereas before – a propos your reference to Chomsky – it took an individual years to compile and collate evidence into a coherent argument presented to a limited audience in book form (what the hell are books?). And I think that’s progress. Government lies will always be with us, no doubt. But the window of opportunity is increasingly narrowed.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Stillwater says:

      I hadn’t thought of that, and I hope you’re right. How can we really know that all the lies really are being exposed or if just a fraction of them are?

      Also, I think there is a point to be made that sometimes the lie has more staying power than the truth. I would be interested in a poll of Americans asking whether they thought bin Laden (1) fought back and (2) used his wife as a human shield.Report

      • Avatar NotMe in reply to Vikram Bath says:


        I’d believe that OBL hid behind a woman. After all Saddam hid like a rat despite all his tough talk. By the way, why the picture of Nixon and not the liar, Obama?Report

      • I also believed them about bin Laden. I hadn’t learned my lesson about trusting government reports at the time.

        Why Nixon? It wasn’t meant as a slight to Obama’s competence as a liar. I thought Nixon would be a more iconic figure though. Also, this post is semi-historical in nature, so I wanted a picture to reflect that.

        Incidentally, the second picture in the post is of Eleanor Roosevelt visiting the Gila River Internment Camp, which was apparently the most humanely run one in the US.Report