For those of you that are not regular readers of Tbogg...

Wait, you're not? What the hell is wrong with you?


For those of you that are not regular readers of Tbogg, you've been missing his recent commentary on "OSM," (Trademarked, copyright, don't touch our shit) the new name of the right-wing blog experiment formerly known as "Pajamas Media." The snark is flying thick and fast.

Today, Tbogg had this post about the merry pranksters, and I clicked over to take a look for myself. I scrolled down a little, and one little quote leapt out and grabbed me by the eyeballs:

TigerHawk says it's a good thing for Presidents to manipulate intelligence.

Wait, what?? Oh, I've got to see this. (bolds mine)

We have lost our way in the partisan acrimony over whether the Bush administration "lied" about or "manipulated" intelligence to promote the war in Iraq. Opponents of the President's policies in Iraq (or opponents of the President, period) seem to be arguing for a world in which all Americans sit in judgment of every foreign policy decision as if they were the chief executive burdened with the responsibility of decision. This is an absurd conception of leadership that nobody serious actually believes. I'll say it: I want my president to manipulate intelligence in furtherance of his conception of the national interest. That's what we elect him to do.


That's what we elect him to do? Hang on a second here, let me check the Presidential Oath of Office.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Apparently, they forgot to add "...and manipulate intelligence to deceive the citizens of the United States." I'm sure it's there somewhere. In the fine print.

There's more.

We want the President to manipulate intelligence in small and large ways. The small ways are essentially bureaucratic -- it is in the nature of intelligence that it must be construed in the context of bureaucratic infighting. The large ways are geopolitical -- our foreign policy is an extended, endless game of poker. We do not want our chief executive to reveal all his cards, even if that means he must deceive us about his reasons for certain of his actions.

So in other words, deceiving the American People about a blowjob is an impeachable offense. Deceiving the American People about pre-war intelligence that gets over 2000 of them slaughtered is A-OK. Because he's doing it to protect us. Or something. Fuck, I don't know, you tell me. He goes into some muckety-muck comparing the President's actions to those of CEO's (not using Enron as an example, for some reason), and then gives us this:

Nobody serious objects to this idea that we want our government to lie to our enemies. The objection, of course, is that an administration might lie not to deceive the enemy, but for a nefarious purpose. Obviously, if a government lies to justify an action that cannot be seen as in the national interest, the lie itself is suddenly indefensible. The political opposition to George Bush, therefore, has devoted a great deal of time to imputing a nefarious motive behind Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is why we hear the laughable claims that the war was for Halliburton, the product of some dark "neocon" conspiracy to aid Israel, or to grab Iraq's oil. The opposition hurls these slanders so that it can characterize the administration's behavior as self-serving, and therefore not in the national interest at all.

Yes, the very idea that Halliburton would want this war and might possibly benefit from it is completely absurd. Self-serving? Dont make me laugh.

The problem with this line of attack, though, is that it exposes the weakness in the opposition's argument. We want the administration to lie if it is doing so in the national interest, and therefore will not object to its characterization of the available intelligence unless we think that the purpose of the war was nefarious. But if the purpose of the war was nefarious, does it really then matter that the administration lied about the intelligence? Is it not far worse to go to war for a nefarious purpose? The "respectible" opponents of the war -- the Cold Feet Democrats, for example -- will not claim that the purpose of the war was nefarious. They simply complain that the President "lied" about the underlying intelligence. But if the war was in the national interest, we needed him to lie. They know this, but for so long as the war repels rather than attracts votes we can expect them to claim that "truth" is the highest value, even if it means showing our cards to our enemies.

Speak for yourself, pal. I never want my President to be lying to me, particularly when national security and American lives are at stake. Sure, your little CEO comparison is nice, but CEOs aren't sending people to their deaths. Over their lies.

This whole post is so amazingly absurd that I'm having difficulty putting what I'm feeling into words. Some commenters on the post had these things to say:

Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice and the gang looked into the eyes of the American people, still profoundly shaken by 9/11, and willfully tried to scare the shit out of us in order to make his case for war. Powell's visit to the U.N. with his "there can be no doubt" and his "rock solid intelligence", has proven to the world that the word of the United States can not be trusted.

So the administration, in an effort to go after Iraq (Bush and the gang had been looking forward to this for a loooooong time), sold half-truths to a frightened populace and cherry picked the intelligence he gave to Congress.

Any argument that rests on a foundation of dishonesty in government is one that doesn't trust truth and open democracy to win out.

To that I'd ask, what are we fighting for?

Tigerhawk, here is the case for why a President, or a CEO of a public company, should not lie to the public, even if he thinks it is in the best interests of nation or company.

If a leader resorts to deception to make his case - no matter how honorable his intention - people will stop believing him. People stop believing liars. A leader whose word cannot be believed cannot lead.

That's not a partisan political argument. Any politician know that without their credibility, they have nothing, which is why they try so hard to keep it.

Other problems relating to lying - that certain forms of deception are strictly illegal and may lead to impeachment or the SEC prosecuting you for fraud - are serious, but perhaps subordinate to the main drawback.

So remember, kids:

Lying to the American people about a blowjob is bad.

Lying about whether or not you have WMDs is bad. Even if none show up.

Lying to the American people and sending them to a bogus war on cherry-picked intelligence is just and good.

After all, global policy and American lives are just a poker game.

(We had joy, we had fun, we had cross-posts in the sun...)

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