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June 18, 2005

Lies and Strategic Lies

-- by Dave Johnson

Sometimes you have an opportunity to study a lie. The Right's current smear-lie about Senator Durbin is an example. (Also here and here). We can look at what he said, and we can look at what the Right is SAYING he said, and compare them. What they are saying he said is a lie. Washington Times, Gitmo called death camp

The hysteria and historical illiteracy, not to mention irrational moral equivalency, continued on the floor of the Senate yesterday as Dick Durbin equated American military personnel at Gitmo to Nazis, Stalinist thugs, and the genocidal Pol Pot...
and Boston Herald,
The second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate has compared American servicemen and women to Nazis on the floor of that body.
But it is more than just a lie, it is a strategic lie. It is a lie designed to trick Americans into believing something that is strategically convenient to the Right. This lie is being used to reinforce an ongoing strategic narrative that Democrats "hate America" and "hate the military."

Let me illustrate by looking back at another strategic lie. Do you remember the lie that Clinton had once written that he "loathed the military?" You have to follow the Right to understand how extensively that lie was circulated. Read just the first few of 26,700 summaries of websites with the words "Clinton," "loath" and "military" that a Google search turns up. (Summaries are exactly as they appear)

Clinton and his crew, however, are the exact opposite. They do not care a fig about their country and they loath the military.

---

President Clinton's plan to murder our U. S military which he statecl "I loath" is doing well.

---

Bill Clinton, the man who wrote, "I loath the military." is successfully "murdering" our soldiers through his defense cuts. He really hates this country.

The next one, from Heritage, isn't about that story, but look how it uses the same words and reinforces the narrative:
... are loath to challenge, and make promises he eventually failed to keep. ... It is bad enough that President Clinton is letting US military power atrophy

The next one actually has the truth:

People think Clinton said he "loathed the military." He didn't. ... "fine people that include Bill Clinton" and "fine people who loath the military" do not ...
But then the trashing continues...
Clinton to Withdraw Claim of Armed Military Service, May 27, 1996 ... lives while wearing the uniform of the American military you once professed to "loath. ...

---

... we military mostly think that you feel the same way about us that Bill Clinton did. You loath us." I will point out that the military downsizing that ...

---

True conservatives understood what Bill "I loath the military" Clinton was doing. He was trying to destroy the character, morale and integrity of the US ...

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This is from those who found no problem with Bill Clinton’s “I did not have ... or his lies under oath, or his statement that he did “loath the military. ...

---

Come To Loathe the Military,' a phrase taken from a letter that 23-year-old ... Clinton had used that expression in a letter to the head of the ROTC in the ...

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There is a moral pit and Clinton and his media supporters are wallowing ... traditional values, especially patriotism, and loath the military. It ...

---

Nothing, but a Clinton era “perfumed prince” as Colonel Hackworth would call them. ... The Left has no problem demeaning the military and siding with our ...

---

Do you have any idea how many military personel Clinton put out of work? ... Clinton screwed the military up so bad that I saw tons of people leave...just ...

Reading these gives you just a hint of how widely this was circulated, and the kind of vitriol that is used by the Right.

This is what is happening now with the story about Senator Durbin. It is important to see the role that the "mainstream" players on the Right - Heritage, Fox, Limbaugh, Washington Times, Murdoch's papers, etc. - are playing in this effort to advance the narrative.

And, finally, remember that all of this is done in defense of the use of torture.


Update - In response to something in the comments, here are Durbin's words: "If I read this to you, and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis,..."

Here is what Scaife's NewsMax used as a headline: "Sen. Durbin: Gitmo GIs Behaved Like 'Nazis'", and then in IDENTICAL words to every single other right-wing outlet, "Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin compared U.S. troops to Hitler's concentration camp guards..."

Update - More on Gitmo.

Update - David Neiwert

Posted by Dave Johnson at June 18, 2005 5:50 PM

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Tracked on June 19, 2005 3:05 AM


Comments

Newt Gingrich is going after Durbin as well. Go read DailyKos - well, I guess it gets Delay out of the spotlight for awhile!

Posted by: Nancy at June 18, 2005 5:56 PM

Nice try, Dave.

Too bad you're just about the only one buying it.

Durbin was clearly drawing parallels between the U.S. Military and the Nazis, et al. to make a rhetorical point. A stupid point, an ignorant point, and inflammatory point, but a point he meant to make, nonetheless.

Your attempt at linguistic gymnastics is interesting to watch, but Durbin compares our soldiers to the Nazis and Stalin's gulags on purpose, and not only did he say it, but confirmed and reiterated his comments the next day.

There are a few far left types such as yourself that would try to rationalize this away (weakly), but only a few are buying it, because they can easily parse his words for themselves, and his intent is crystal clear. Only an idiot or someone completely partisan would think otherwise, and I doubt you're an idiot.

If you would like to debate his choice of language, though, let's have at it. I have both undergraduate and graduate degrees in English, taught it on the university level for a while, and am quite up to the challenge.

Consider it an open invitation.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at June 18, 2005 6:45 PM

Nice try "confederate" but what Durbin SAID was that if you didn't know that this was our own FBI writing about people being tortured at Guantanamo, you would think you were reading about the Nazis, etc. That is entirely about Bush's policy of torture.

Turture is torture, and your attempt to deflect from Durbin's criticism of Bush's policies is dishonest.

Posted by: Dave Johnson at June 18, 2005 6:55 PM

Good post, Dave. Our confederate friend has a lot to learn.

Posted by: Winter Patriot at June 18, 2005 7:00 PM

You are correct in one respect: Torture is torture.

Call me when some occurs.

As for Durbin's comments:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulag, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings. Sadly . . . this was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners." [bold added]

In the bolded sentence above, Durbin clearly and explicitly equated the actions of U.S. soldiers with, "Nazis, Soviets in their gulag, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings."

You can try to say otherwise, but his words are there in the Congressional Record.

Your man compared our soldiers to Nazis.

Hell, you probably agree.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at June 18, 2005 7:13 PM

Confederate Yankee showed serious ignorance -- if not terminal dishonesty -- when he wrote:

Torture is torture. Call me when some occurs.

Here's your call: WAKE UP!

Torture has occurred and it is still occurring.

It's a horrible stain on our nation and your attempt to deny it is despicable.

Posted by: Winter Patriot at June 18, 2005 7:36 PM

Confederate, you write, "Torture is torture. Call me when some occurs."

This is Durbin's quote from the FBI statement, just so the readers can know what you are defending:

" On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor."

Yes, torture IS torture. This Republican administration has instituted a policy of torturing prisoners. More prisoners have died in our facilities than American POWs in Vietnam's, and this is what you are defending.

SOME of us consistently speak out against torture. Other, apparently, do not.

Posted by: Dave Johnson at June 18, 2005 8:07 PM

Thank you for this post, Dave. Illinoisans are proud of and support Senator Durbin. Strong words are an appropriate response to the actions of the Bush Administration which has taken the United States outside of the world community and dishonored its people in this war. Durbin is speaking for not only the people of Illinois but of the whole country when he criticizes the Bush Administration's use of torture, deception and fear to maintain their war and the political capital, oil and war profits they think it buys them. The reason Dick Durbin spoke so harshly is that he in fact loves this country. Durbin was not bashing the soldiers, only their leaders. Their Durbin bashing is just more of what they have been doing since the '80s. Since they cannot defend their own actions, they resort to their usual smear campaign and marketing manipulation. It's about time the rest of the country wakes up and sees the republicans for what they are, stop embracing their PR campaign of smear and scandal and start looking at the facts and evidence. If they don't soon, we risk losing our country and it probably will look a whole lot more facist than people want to think.

Posted by: Illinois Blogger at June 18, 2005 8:57 PM

Perhaps if Mr. Yankee were to find himself in the same position as the "detainees", he would have a somewhat different position on torture then what he does, but no,I'm sorry, he's no doubt tough enough to get through all that, the 18 hours in a fetal position, no where to go potty but on himself.That would just be the end for me, but he's tough.He could do it and I'm sure if it happened to him he wouldn't have the audacity to call that little bit of inconviencene torture.Now would he.He's tough!I'm impressed that he can go though all this with the temps raiseing and lowering and I have to only guess the muscles starteing to scream from being in the same position for all those hours.But you know what? He's got a grip on this and since it's him it certainly won't be torture.Just a mild inconvience and no doubt that's why he doesn't understand why these silly prisoners are such wimps, cuz...he could certainly get through this same kind of treatment with no problem or any whineing at all.Piece of cake, I have no doubt.He's one tough cookie is Mr. Yankeee.I wouldn't question that for one minute.I wish him sweet dreams.

Posted by: Kay at June 18, 2005 9:33 PM

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