Worse than Al Qaeda?

The most thoroughly damning aspect of the Bush administration's approach to Iraq - that is, if you discount the fraudulent rationale for launching the invasion, the incompetent handling of the occupation, and the total lack of an exit strategy - has been the wholesale politicization and manipulation of facts and events, all in the name of generating and retaining public support for the war. This litany of deception ranges from the spinning of heroic mythologies from whole cloth (as in the "rescue" of Pfc. Jessica Lynch and the false original accounts of the death of Spec. Pat Tillman) to the cover-up of prisoner abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison to the refusal to acknowledge the brute reality of a civil war in Iraq. There are reasons, of course; barring pure pathology, there are always rational objectives behind lies and obfuscations, always rewards to be gained from deception. In this case, the reward was much-needed public backing for a military adventure whose fortunes have turned so dramatically and inevitably downward. This much was to be expected; what comes as a surprise is the sheer expediency of the deception, the disposability of the lie. Our collective memory is not strong, and this has not escaped the notice of those in charge of telling us the story of the war. Lies need linger only so long in order to serve their purpose. Who remembers Jessica Lynch now?

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