Lying for a Living

by Harry Browne

January 7, 2004     

The Bush administration lied to the American people about many things in order to drag America into a war against a country that posed no threat whatsoever to it.

The biggest lie, of course, was the idea that Iraq had so-called "weapons of mass destruction" (nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons) that could kill millions of Americans.

Now that it’s evident that there were no such weapons, the war hawks claim that George Bush never really said the Iraqi threat was imminent. In fact, he supposedly said precisely the opposite that we must stop Saddam Hussein before he can pose a threat to the United States.

In fact, on October 7, 2002, George Bush said to a cheering crowd in Cincinnati:

Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

See! He didn’t say Hussein was an imminent threat only that we must stop him before he becomes a threat.

Unfortunately, for the war hawks, that isn’t what Bush meant as is evident when that statement is placed in its original context:

Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. As President Kennedy said in October of 1962, "Neither the United States of America, nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world," he said, "where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation’s security to constitute maximum peril." [italics added]

Bush implied that we can’t wait for the "actual firing of weapons" before responding. He didn’t say we have to respond before the weapons are even developed which is what he's now trying to convince us he said.

If that doesn’t convince you that George Bush said Hussein already had weapons that posed a threat, try looking at just some of the statements made by various members of the Bush administration, to wit:

Statements by George Bush

"If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today and we do does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?"

Speech in Cincinnati, October 7, 2002        

"And we have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."

Radio address, February 8, 2003        

"[W]e have arrived at an important moment in confronting the threat posed to our nation and to peace by Saddam Hussein and his weapons of terror. . . . Saddam Hussein has a long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes. He possesses weapons of terror. He provides funding and training and safe haven to terrorists terrorists who would willingly use weapons of mass destruction against America and other peace-loving countries. Saddam Hussein and his weapons are a direct threat to this country, to our people, and to all free people."

Press conference, March 6, 2003        

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

TV Address, March 17, 2003        

"Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."

Press conference at Texas ranch, May 3, 2003        

"We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories . . . and we’ll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, we found them."

Polish TV interview, May 30, 2003        

"For more than a decade, Saddam Hussein went to great lengths to hide his weapons from the world. And in the regime’s final days, documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned. Yet all who know the dictator’s history agree that he possessed chemical and biological weapons and that he used chemical weapons in the past."

Radio address, June 21, 2003         

"I am confident that Saddam Hussein had a weapons of mass destruction program."

Press conference, South Africa, July 9, 2003         

Statements by Richard Cheney

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

Speech at VFW convention, August 26, 2002        
Repeated in Speech to Veterans of Korean War, August 29, 2002        

"We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Meet the Press, March 16, 2003        

"So I say I’m not willing at all at this point to buy the proposition that somehow Saddam Hussein was innocent and he had no WMD and some guy out at the CIA, because I called him, cooked up a report saying he did."

Meet the Press, September 14, 2003        

Statements by Donald Rumsfeld

"We have seen intelligence over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that they’re weaponized and that, in one case at least, the command and control arrangements have been established."

Face the Nation, March 23, 2003         

". . . the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Interview with George Stephanopoulos, March 30, 2003        

Statement by Colin Powell

"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more."

Presentation at the United Nations, February 5, 2003        

Lies, Lies, Lies

Of course, this is just one part of the Iraqi "threat" about which the politicians lied to us. They also lied about mobile laboratories, aluminum tubes, unmanned aircraft that could carry WMDs to America's east coast, ballistic missiles that could threaten the whole Middle East, uranium purchases in Africa, Al-Qaeda training camps in Iraq, the adventures of Jessica Lynch, the toppling of Hussein’s statue, Hussein kicking the UN inspectors out of Iraq, and much more.

Thousands of people — Americans and Iraqis — are dead because millions of Americans believed those lies.

We should never let the politicians' statements lure us into war again.

They Lie about Everything

But lying isn’t confined to matters of war and peace. Those matters are simply the most dangerous areas in which politicians lie.

They lie to us about virtually everything.

    They lied when they said they were phasing out farm subsidies with the "Freedom to Farm" act in 1996. But now farm subsidies are 50% larger than they were in 1996.

    They lied when they said they reformed welfare in the mid-1990s. Since then, the annual federal cost of "income security" has increased by 40%.

    They lied when they said the federal budget was in surplus during 1998-2001, while the federal debt increased every year during that period. (They stole the money from Social Security to paper over the deficits.)

    They lied in 1965 when the Medicare Act said that "Nothing in this title shall be construed to authorize any Federal officer or employee to exercise any supervision or control over the practice of medicine or the manner in which medical services are provided," as doctors are routinely terrorized by Medicare bureaucrats.

    They lie whenever they take an oath to obey the Constitution of the United States.

    They lie when they claim to be protecting our freedom.

They lie because that’s what a politician does for a living lie to convince us to give him more power over our lives.

And Americans fall for the lies over and over again.

What to Do

How do you deal with this?

Simple: Whenever a politician starts talking, just close your innocent little ears and pay no attention to him. He’s most likely lying simply telling you what he hopes will persuade you to give him another chunk of your life.

Politicians lie far more often than used-car salesmen do more often than aluminum- siding salesmen more often than people in suede shoes.

Why do politicians lie so much more often than other people? Because they risk no personal consequences when they lie. When a politician is found to have lied, he isn't reprimanded, he doesn't lose his job, he doesn't have to pay a fine or go to jail. He doesn't even risk losing his next election, because most people won't even be aware of his lie. But he will have lied nonetheless, and he'll lie again and again and again.

There is probably no more important lesson that you can learn and take to heart than the simple lesson that politicians don’t tell the truth and when the politicians promise that some government program will cure some problem, you can almost be positive that it will in fact make matters worse.

More government means trouble. There’s only one thing a politician can do to help us: repeal laws.

Repeal thousands and thousands of laws.

And I don’t mean promise to repeal laws, but actually do it.

Only their actions are meaningful.

Pay no attention to what they say. They make their living by lying.