Friday, November 18, 2005

The ideology of information 

This falls into a Great Line of the Day category though its a little long. On TPM Cafe, Mark Schmitt explains the deeper issues regarding what the Bush Administration did or did not know about WMD before the Iraq war began:
We're asking very traditional questions: Was information withheld? Was there deceit about the information? Those are the familiar Watergate/Iran-contra questions. But they overlook the Ideology of Information that the administration created. By this I mean the whole practice of evaluating all information going into the war not for its truth value, but for whether it promoted or hindered the administration's goal of being free to go to war. The President could have been given every bit of intelligence information available, and he and/or Cheney would have reached the same decision because they would have discarded, discounted, or disregarded most of it. Information that was Useful to that goal was put in one box, Not Useful put in another. Entire categories of information were assigned to the Not Useful box because their source was deemed an opponent of U.S. military action, or assumed to have some other motive. All information from the UN inspectors went into the Not Useful box because they were deemed war opponents, or because it was believed that giving any credence to the inspectors would lead back into the mid-1990s cycle of inspections and evasions of inspections. Any information from the CIA was considered Not Useful because they were deemed to have overlooked Saddam's arsenal in the 1990s . . . just a couple of stories that slipped through the cracks of The Ideology of Information: the yellowcake-from-Niger fraud, which had been debunked everywhere, and the question of the aluminum tubes not suitable for centrifuges . . . The White House didn't so much deceive itself or deceive others as close its eyes to the very possibility that there were any questions at issue, regarding not only WMD but also post-invasion planning. They did so in the name of preserving their freedom to act when and how they wished, and as a result got us trapped in a situation in which we no longer have any freedom of action.
It is important to call attention to the Ideology of Information promoted during that period because it is very much alive. It is inherent in the Plame leak and to this day in the criticisms of Wilson -- the argument that he was the one who revealed information in his op-ed. It is inherent in the Bush and Cheney speeches: criticism and second thoughts, reminders of alternative information are all deemed simply Not Useful. It's something much deeper and sicker than just withholding or manipulating information.
Emphasis mine. And of course this approach is still being taken today, to continue to insist that "progress" is being made in Iraq as long as the US continues to "stay the course" regardless of what anyone who has actually been there says. It also applies to Guantanamo and the secret prisons and all of the other illegal and immoral claptrap from the Bush administration.

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