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A Citizen's Guide to

 

Beyond meaning and misspoking and unknown unknown

When it comes to duplicity, our politicians have learnt much from their US cousins.

Bill Clinton told a global television audience 'I did not have sexual relations with that women', responding to allegations from White House intern, Monica Lewinsky in 1998. Even when he was forced to come clean, he still wouldn't acknowledge that he had sex with Lewinsky, instead he called it an "inappropriate relationship", he said "...it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible."

He also said, "I never told any body to lie, not a single time, never." Clearly, he reserved that right to himself. At the time of this event, Clinton made much of what he understood by the term 'sexual relations', throughout the whole inquisition he sought to redefine the term, such that the word sexual had no sexual connotations. It was as if he and Monica just held hands, in Bill's mind anyway but he nearly managed to persuade the American nation as well. And as ever, the US model of political depravity leeched across the globe, stare straight at the camera, head up, deny all knowledge with total sincerity and when you get caught out, prostrate yourself to the court of human frailty.

Bill's wife, Hillary, to cover up her own lying, invented the word 'misspoke'. Saying I lied is harsh, saying I misspoke has connotations of acceptable error. Obviously, this was all too late to save Bill's career but she salvaged her own with it.

Talking about her visit to Bosnia in 1996, Hillary said:

“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Unfortunately for liar Hillary, CBS News showed footage of her walking calmly across the tarmac with her daughter, Chelsea, and being greeted by dignitaries and a child with flowers. In her memoir, “Living History,” she wrote about sniper fire in the hills but it didn't trouble her hand shaking activities.

No Intention to be Factual....

Arizona senator Jon Kyle falsely accused healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, of providing abortions to ‘well over 90 per cent of its customers.' In fact, only three per cent of its work involves abortion.

A spokesman for Kyle said: his remark ‘was not intended to be a factual statement’. One reporter described Kyle's lying as evidence of the current political zeitgeist. In essence, say what you like, some fool will believe it.

However, long before the Clintons and unremarkable senators like Kyle started lying for a living, Richard Nixon changed forever the way citizens looked at those holding high office. In a sense Nixon's persistent lying over Watergate did much to reshape the public's expectations towards their politicians.

 

Unknown unknowns

Blair and Bush finished things off with their dodgy dossier on weapons of mass destruction, supposedly held by Iraq. In this instance, we move away from the lie and lack of intention to be truthful to new territory, Donald Rumsfeld territory:

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know." (2002)

Rumsfeld is an important character, he was there with Nixon, he was there with Reagan, he was there with Bush. The 'war on terror' was created in the Pentagon by Rumsfeld. There was nothing that Rumsfeld did not know. He created the Office for Special Plans at the Pentagon, purpose, to disseminate disinformation - their biggest piece of handy work, the 45 minute claim!

Unknown unknowns leave the door open for complete fantasy, for bigger and bigger lies - i.e. Tony Blair telling Parliament that Saddam Hussein had WMDs that could be launched in 45 minutes. Citizens were told time and again that this claim was based on credible 'intelligence'. And all those suspected of lying persist with the lie that they believed the 'intelligence'. The whole Cabinet and all the spin doctors absolving themselves by reference to some nebulous, no, nonexistent intelligence. There was no intelligence, no WMDs, and the 45 minute claim was simply ridiculous. The forty-five minutes claim actually redefined time, it meant probably never but Blair's spin doctors, chiefly, Tom Kelly and Alastair Campbell needed something emphatic and probably never didn't cover it.