Monday, October 29, 2012

How America Lies

America lies.  So do all countries.  China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, England, Israel, they all lie. I am sure even Canada lies, as hard as it is to believe.  They can't be that polite all the time :D

It's human nature to lie and governments are made of human beings.   There are things the country is ashamed of and things the country considers secret.   When asked about these things, the country will lie.

The question not do they lie, but instead when, how and why the country lies.  Lets look at the Libyan Ambassador incident.  How exactly did the US respond.  Here are the pertinent facts:

  • Emails to the White House describing a claim of terrorist  attack.
  • President Obama gave a press conference in the Rose Garden the day after the attack describing it as an 'act of terror'.
  • But we also have the administration taking two weeks discussing how it might have been a public reaction to a film, as opposed to an act by a terrorist organization.  Eventually they pronounced it just another planned act by a terrorist organization.

There are several possibilities here.

  1. The administration was unclear about what happened for a whole two weeks.  They didn't know, and their communication revealed that fact.
  2. They knew it was just an act of terror and failed to tell the American people for some strange political purposes.
  3. They knew it was just an act of terror and failed to tell anyone because they didn't want the bad guys to know that we knew.  (Funny thing about terrorists, they watch CNN - and Fox as well).
First of all, taking two weeks to make sure what happened is NOT unreasonable.   How would you feel if it turned out to have been funded by Russia agents with the Islamic terrorists set up as a fall guy?  Worse that fact didn't come to light for two years? (Nothing against Russia, just using them as a handy traditional enemy).   God, that would have been a nightmare.  And indicate clear incompetence.

Two weeks is not two years.  It is a reasonable amount of time to be unclear.  So option #1 is not a bad outcome, it's just a cautious one taken by people that are not fools accepting everything at face value.

Option #2 is just plain strange.  What possible political advantage does anyone think Obama (or any US administration) have?  A record of no terrorist attack in Libya?  No one cares.  It's like accusing someone of breaking into a child's piggy bank to steal the coins.  Nothing worth stealing.  No upside.  The downside when it comes out is far worse.   Only a lunatic would think this is what happened.  You want to make this claim, you need to come up with some reasonable explanation of the proposed political gain and so far you have nothing.

Option #3 is is a reasonable thing.  Why?  Because it is in line with what the US has done in the past.  We love to hide what we know.  We refuse to talk about our information gathering techniques, even those that are decades old, because we might use similar ones in the future.   The US likes to keep things secret.

But both option #1 and option #3 are not bad things.  They show a President in charge and doing his job.  So why do the GOP complain?  Because they want to imply option #2.  But all they can do is imply because it is obvious that option #2 is total bullshit.

THAT is how America lies.   We imply things without stating them.

Why?  Because we have a free press that is very good at investigating things.  If we come out and state something, they catch us on the lie.   But if we don't outright say something, they have no 'gotcha' quote they can throw back in our face.  We can however said "I didn't say that, I just asked the question."

We lie by omission.  We lie by asking questions like "Did Romney join the KKK?"  No of course he didn't.  But I just I implied it.    That's how Americans lie.  We don't forge evidence.  We don't accuse innocent people.  We omit.

 The same goes for most of the 'free world'.  Canada, Europe, etc. all have strong free press cultures.   The governments have learned that the best way to lie is to avoid stating something rather than to say something 'on the record', where it can be used against you.

 As a result, we have gotten very good at lying. 

This is very different from how many other countries lie.  China, Russia and much of the Islamic world do not have a free press.   You can't investigate their lies, you can't prove them wrong.

This means they suck at lying.  They just state a false statement and expect people to believe them.  One of two things happen.  Either
  1. Their citizens believe their governments lies (and therefore distrust all other news sources outside their government's control, especially the ones that tell the real truth)
  2. Their citizens stop trusting anyone - because they see how often their own government lies.  They assume every other government lies the same way.

In either case, when they hear the USA speak, they distrust us.   Usually when we are speaking the truth - because it is so very hard to catch the US in a lie.   Mainly because we don't lie outright, we circle the truth.

Next post:  When the US government lies.

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