The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Traficking in disinformation

As you know, much has been made of the skill with which Republicans "frame" events and debates in the last few years. Democrats have been at a loss on the subject of how to convince Americans that it's a good idea to vote for people who are looking out for you. Often overlooked in that discussion is a simple observation: the neo-fascists have no trouble with lying. I remember Reagan's shocking stories of Chicago's "welfare queen," whose profession was cheating the government out of entitlement spending and drove a Cadillac. The "welfare queen" never existed.

Neither, apparently, does Bush's favorite example of how a free press is dangerous to our national security:

President Bush asserted this week that the news media published a U.S. government leak in 1998 about Osama bin Laden's use of a satellite phone, alerting the al Qaeda leader to government monitoring and prompting him to abandon the device.

The story of the vicious leak that destroyed a valuable intelligence operation was first reported by a best-selling book, validated by the Sept. 11 commission and then repeated by the president.

But it appears to be an urban myth.

The al Qaeda leader's communication to aides via satellite phone had already been reported in 1996 -- and the source of the information was another government, the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan at the time.