Blogs > HNN > Why the American People Were So Easily Bamboozled by the Bush Administration

Jul 24, 2008 2:53 pm

Why the American People Were So Easily Bamboozled by the Bush Administration

This blog is run by Rick Shenkman, the author of the new book, Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter (Basic Books, June 2008). Mr. Shenkman, an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter, is an associate professor of history at George Mason University and editor of the university's History News Network.

I do not wish to engage in a debate about the Iraq War. But the thought of planting a largely Christian army in the middle of the Muslim Middle East over the opposition of most countries in the region, when put as I have just put it, sounds daft. Why did it not ring bells of alarm to Americans in 2003 and after, especially as it became clear that our troops would be staying a long time and that no quick victory was possible? It did not because the administration saw to it that the issue was framed differently. We weren’t planting an army. We were spreading God’s miraculous gift of freedom to a benighted people very much in need of America’s missionary help. It was the triumph of myth over logic.

Why were Americans so susceptible to myth? Foreign policy specialists don't usually spend a lot of time reflecting on this question. They should. It's the key to what often goes wrong when foreign policy issues become the subject of public debate.

The answer is, I'm afraid, simple. Myths count more than facts in these debates because Americans don't know many facts and don't care to take the time to learn them. Unlike subjects with which they have first-hand experience--think gas prices--matters related to foreign countries are both exotic and incomprehensible to most Americans. This leaves them sitting ducks for wily pols who want to take advantage of their ignorance by playing on fear and patriotism.

The extent of Americans' ignorance is underestimated. To take one example that will give you an idea of the vast ignorance with which policy makers must come to terms: A majority of Americans do not know that it is their own country that is the only one to have used nuclear weapons in a war.

Not all is grim. On the positive side, Americans did not make wholly irrational demands of their leaders after 9/11. American Muslims were not rounded up and sent to concentration camps after 9/11 (as Japanese-Americans were after Pearl Harbor). Mosques were not closed down. Nuclear weapons were not employed against our perceived enemies. And nobody was lynched. Given what has happened in American history any one of these responses or all of them might have been anticipated. That none occurred and that nothing like them occurred is worth noting.

But polls indicate that a significant segment of the American public was susceptible to wild conspiracy theories. A Scripps-Howard poll in 2006 found that 36 percent believe that it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that U.S. officials either allowed the attack to take place or were involved it.

Americans do not have a monopoly on conspiracy thinking. Nineteen percent of Germans said in a 2004 poll that 9/11 was the work of the CIA and Israel’s Mossad. The French turned Thierry Meyssan’s book The Appalling Fraud into a best-seller, despite the absence of evidence for its chief and crazy claim: that the Pentagon attacked itself on 9/11 with a cruise missile. Millions of Muslims around the world persist in believing that Jews were given advance warning of the attack on the World Trade Center.

But instead of the thoughtful debate we should by rights have had in this country, we settled for slogans:

  • We must fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here
  • The Global War on Terror (GWOT)
  • Mission Accomplished
  • You are either with us or with the terrorists
  • The axis of evil

To be sure the public eventually turned against Mr. Bush's war in Iraq. The one thing the public usually gets is success and failure. And Mr. Bush's war has been a spectacular failure when judged against all of the many measures by which he has asked us to judge it.

As we head into the fall campaign and listen to the debates about the war we should keep in mind the limits of public opinion. If we don't begin to address the problem of gross public ignorance there will be more Iraqs.

One poll finding we should all keep in mind is this, as I have been reminding HNN readers the past few weeks. Even after the 9/11 Commission reported that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 attack 50 percent of the country persisted in believing there was. The implications of this are mind boggling.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Julian Feuerbach - 7/12/2008

"Why the American People Were So Easily Bamboozled by the Bush Administration?"
Who said we were?

Michael Davis - 7/7/2008

I can't wait until President Obamer gets sworn in, then everything will be better. No more capitalism or global warming or mean hurricanes or war on terrorism or high gasoline prices (relative to what?) or outsourcing or inept congress or federal insolvency! (Sarcasm.)

Tim M Kane - 7/4/2008

Another dot to connect is the "christianist" (aka Fundies) dominating the American Military Academies.

If you wanted to take control of the United States, you would have to take control of the Military. The way to do that is to control the officer corp.

The right wing fundies are how the Thugs can tell who they can trust and who they can't.

My prediction is that Bush/Cheney will never let a Democrat take the reigns as long as they live. My guess is that between Novemeber 2008 and January 2009, there will be a purge of known non-fundies from the Officer corp and maybe the military, then an emergency, and then emergency decrees and emergency rule, etc....

So, we are maybe, only 6 months away from all this happening, if it were going to happen at all.

Tim M Kane - 7/4/2008

Another dot to connect is the "christianist" (aka Fundies) dominating the American Military Academies.

If you wanted to take control of the United States, you would have to take control of the Military. The way to do that is to control the officer corp.

The right wing fundies are how the Thugs can tell who they can trust and who they can't.

My prediction is that Bush/Cheney will never let a Democrat take the reigns as long as they live. My guess is that between Novemeber 2008 and January 2009, there will be a purge of known non-fundies from the Officer corp and maybe the military, then an emergency, and then emergency decrees and emergency rule, etc....

So, we are maybe, only 6 months away from all this happening, if it were going to happen at all.

Tim M Kane - 7/4/2008

And really, this is perhaps the first time, or the most exotic example of an elected junta clearly not interested in the public's interest.

Bush fooled a lot of people, what with his Jesus talk (I know athiest that attend church services more often then he), his folksy rattle, compassionate conservative crap, reformer w/ results carbon fibre.

But truly someone with a pathology so void of conscience, to the extent of him, is truly unheard of in American politics. Yes we've had psychotics before, and frequently they are Republican - but even Reagan, when he saw what 'supply side' was doing to the country, raised taxes. He was misguided in his opinions, but still concerned, to the extent his mind could take him, of the public good, such as he was able to see it.

We've never had someone this scary come into office - but the media was owned by corporations, and they wouldn't put a spot light on evidence of his pathological problems in the past.

So, now we have a Train Wreck Presidency - and an entire world teetering on a new dark age.

Tim M Kane - 7/4/2008

And here is the telling thing...

Back in the day, we assumed our leaders had more knowledge than we did and would do the right thing.

Usually they did.

For 30 years, every challenging candidate, republican or democratic, would complain about the existing administration coddling to Chinese dictators: Carter, Reagan, and Clinton all said the same thing while running, only, upon gaining office, doing the same thing. My guess, once in office, they had access to the same information and exercised sound civics.

Daddy Bush didn't knock down Saddam? Why? Because if you understood the geopolitics of it, you don't do that.

But clueless/reckless leader was not to be thwarted by facts.

Iraq's GNP in 2003 was only $52 billion, (admittedly, back when $52 billion was worth $105billion in today's money). A few well placed bribes and we could have gotten the country lock stock and infrastructure-still-in-place-and-millions-of-people-not-displaced-and -hudreds-of-thousands-not-killed-maimed-or-wounded.
Barrel for a fraction of..., oh never mind.

Kosovo was a sound exercise in civics, until W came to power.

Look, he hasn't gotten one thing right. He's never acted in the interest of the American public, just a subset of it that is the top 1%.

Gas is $4 a gallon, the dollar is falling through the floor, we can't eat our food, there is international food riots -- face it, these guys don't pursue sound civics. I'm not talking rocket science. Just basic blocking and tackling, the abc's of civics and the pursuit of the public good.

They are either idiots or they don't care. Probably the ladder, which is why they don't have any qualms about dupping the hard working public.

Bush and the Neocons are traitors to the American nation, not people who simply got things wrong.

Tax cuts in a time of war? No draft in a 'clash of civilizations'?

Read Nobel laureate, Doug North's book "Structure and Change in Economic History" on the causes of the collapse of the Roman Empire. Then take the time to map them to: the collapse of Ancient Egypt's New Kingdom, the collapse of pre-Islamic Mecca, the collapse of Byzantium before Manzikurt, the collapse of Medieval Japan, the Collapse of Hapsburg Spain, the Collapse of Bourbon France, the Collapse of Romanov Russia, the Great Depression (the collapse of Coolege/Hoover/Republican economics in America) which paved the way for Hitler, WWII and the Holocause (yes I am laying blame at Republicans).

They were all caused by the same thing: (a) concentration of wealth and power (b) the wealthy and powerful using their influence shirk paying taxes; causing the state society to collapse.

It's repeated over and over - the wealthy and the powerful, the ones that have the most to lose by the collapse of the state (because you need a state to recognize property rights in order to hold wealth) are the very ones who cause the collapse to happen.

Why don't they run that on Fox News? Or any news?

That's the obvious question.

Chris Henson - 7/3/2008

Speaking of good books [like the one this string is about], have you read "Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein? Damned powerful stuff!

Chris Henson - 7/3/2008

The same old situation around Isreal IS the disaster that I was referring to. And the disaster that the Bush administration has exploited to make financial gains. Does it not bother you that literally billions of dollars of your taxes are disappearing into the hands of a few enormous US corporations working over there? I thought Republicans were AGAINST unchecked government spending.

My point was that there's an awful lot of carnage in Darfur. If Bush had to go into Iraq to "stop the carnage," shouldn't he also go into Darfur? Oh oil.

As for New Orleans, Bush could have started by appointing someone with ANY disaster preparedness experience whatsoever to run FEMA, rather than his buddy Mr. Brown. Brownie's lack of understanding, organization and good old American compassion turned a natural disaster into a humanitarian one.

Meanwhile, I would call the destruction of North Korea's weapons-grade nuclear facility a success of diplomacy. Even Bush has called it that.

And finally, "opening the spigot" of oil is like hocking your wedding band for one last hit on a crackpipe. It is both extremely shortsighted and ultimately suicidal. Wind and solar are excellent starts. Just as the Apollo program brought an enormous windfall of technological advances [from velcro to microprocessors], so too would a mandate by the government to advance alternative fuels mean big profits down the road. Why are Republicans so afraid of this? But, more immediately, advances in nuclear technology mean the nuclear power is cleaner, cheaper and more efficient than ever before. We are fools to ignore this.

In the 1940s, American auto makers were able to go from producing cars to producing tanks and jeeps. In a matter of a year we were able to tool up and begin producing a battleship a day. But you're saying we can't retool Detroit to stop producing SUVs and start producing electric cars, using current technology, that would satisfy the daily travel needs of 90% of Americans. It would take 25 years to do this? Really? It didn't take Toyota that long to develop the Prius, which is not a panacea, but is a better start than, say, an H2.

America would be best served by leadership from someone -- anyone -- who can look even a day or two into the future and see anything other than dollar signs.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 7/2/2008

Excuse me, but I don't see any "disaster" in the Middle East, except the same old situation around Israel.

I have no knowledge about Darfur. Nada. Rien.

What do you suggest Bush should have done differently in New Orleans? If there had been a way to keep out the networks and lock up the mayor, that would have helped, but it still wouldn't have gotten around the inept Governor Blanco. And the wasted money was the fault of Congress, which should have known better than to attempt miracles with that leviathan agency. I'm not convinced the Katrina rescue was a terrible failure, however, because the underclass was going to complain anyway, and many did get enormous help.

There haven't been any "results" in North Korea, so I don't know what you're talking about. It seems to me the little geek is still successfully using extortion on us, although he hasn't so far been able to roll Bush as badly as he did Clinton.

The answer to your final paragraph, especially if you mean wind and solar, is "No." America would be best served by opening the spigot and drilling for all domestic oil as soon as possible, offshore, onshore and shale. We need an enormous stream of oil for at least the next 25 years, even if development of the only viable alternatives--atomic power, coal and natural gas--are also pushed posthaste.

Mark Woodburn - 7/2/2008

I don't know about being elitist - I am one pissed off country boy who despises every single thing these bastards have done to my country.

I hate even more that they are going to get away with it scott free AND draw a GD government pension with SS bodyguards paid for by the sweat of my fellow Americans for life as a reward for their treasons.

Good point about the efforts to disorient the Iraqis too. Its standard military terror tactics.

Chris Henson - 7/2/2008

What Bush and his administration did was practice Disaster Capitalism, taking the calamity that is the Middle East situation and using it for corporatist policies and personal gain. The only "freedom" Bush has any interest in pushing in the Middle East is that of free markets.

And by your reasoning, doesn't Bush "have to do something different" in Darfur? Shouldn't he have done "something different" in New Orleans?

And didn't diplomacy ultimately yield better results in North Korea than war has in Iraq?

And ultimately, isn't America better served by regulating the oil and automotive industries and promoting energy alternatives that will make us more independent and more profitable?

Chris Henson - 7/2/2008

Mark, you sound like a total elitist! And I agree with every word.

I would add:

FACT: Once in Iraq, Bush and Company did everything it could to create a new free market by: firing the Iraqi military and many public employees; hiring American firms [without bids] to replace them at a huge cost to American taxpayers; and destroying essential infrastructure [water, electricity, phones, media] in order to literally keep Iraqi citizens in the dark, scared and disoriented.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 7/2/2008

For nearly 60 year we paid everyone bribes in the Middle East to maintain the "peace." The bribes went to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Arafat and others. Every five years there was a crisis, anyway. The leaders were summoned to Camp David where, one after another, they said, "We can have peace, Mr. President, but it will take money." So we bought another five years, and Jimmy Carter or some other fish like him would win a Peace Prize.(!) By the time it was Dubya's turn it had become clear that 50 years of these bribes had purchased only more carnage, and worse than that, with the new wrinkle of child suicide bombers. Give Bush credit for recognizing we had to do something different. He decided to "drain the swamp," and we did. The entire region will be infinitely better now for many years to come. Iraq's neighbors will first envy and then copy Iraq. The people will rise up against the mullahs in Iran. And the oil will flow to a world that needs it badly, thanks to the United States of America, with an assist from Tony Blair.

Chris Henson - 7/2/2008

John Dean's book "Conservatives Without Conscience" does a great job describing the nature of authoritarians. Basically there are two types: 1] the leaders and 2] the followers.

Typically authoritarian leaders, like Dick Cheney, see themselves as infallible. So, in order to get the most people to agree with their leadership, they will lie repeatedly and without remorse. After all, if they are infallible, then any decision they make must be for the greater good. If misaligning the facts helps a majority of deeply fallible people understand the decision, so be it.

Meanwhile, authoritarian followers crave leadership that can be seen as infallible. This means the notion of "staying the course" is the perfect mantra for them. The War in Iraq is no mistake, so why on earth would we stop it now? It also means they are willing to accept the lies told them by their respected leaders even in the face of evidence to the contrary. This is how so many people can still believe that Saddam caused 9/11. This explains the original poster above.

Dean's conclusions are drawn from verifiable evidence produced in a variety of studies performed in a number of university settings and not from mere conjecture.

I can only imagine where such blind faith in an administration that has so obviously mislead the American people will take us.

Mark Woodburn - 7/2/2008

I don't know where Rick Shenkman was during the bombing of Kosovo but as for myself and thousands of others we were writing OpEds and Letters to newspapers (many which they would not publish), writing emails (which never got answered) and staging small protests (small because most people had never even heard of Kosovo nor cared to know where or what it was) - fitting in nicely with Shenkman's hypothesis.

As for Clinton, you seem to be following standard right-wing thinking in that all "Liberals" and all "Democrats" loved him.

Rest assured many did (and do) not. A considerable number saw him for what his post-presidency has proven him to be, nothing more that another corporate lackey with far more right-leaning tendencies than left.

You speak of ignoring history – well, that is what the people in our government (Democrats, Republicans, their minions and enablers alike) do best. Consider the following in coming to your own conclusion about our ‘history’.

The "history" of Kosovo, that which was not buried by the press at the time, was and has been largely ignored by anyone in this country without a direct personal tie to it somehow.

That we still have troops in the region should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone as our nation has a long historical record of conquest and subsequent occupation in all corners of the globe. It is after all, what we do in the name of spreading 'Freedom and Democracy' (at the end of a rifle barrel), to the 'oppressed' peoples of the world.

BushCo simply took lessons from Reagan, H.W and Clinton and became masters at using the willingly complicit corporate media to hide the truth from a largely apathetic public.

We, as a public have grown so detached from the reality of what our leaders do that now, a self-acknowledged criminal occupies our highest political office, our largest corporations practice openly public financial rape on us all while paying little or no taxes thanks to government tax breaks and corporate handouts, our ‘intelligence’ and military openly practices torture of human beings against every convention ever written, against all of our own so-called codes of military conduct, while others in our government openly spy on our every form of communication and routinely violate our Constitutional rights without the merest hint of fear in ever facing the consequences of "the World's Finest" legal system.

The UNSC resolutions that Saddam 'flouted and ignored' as you put it, as crafted, never had a snowball's chance to succeed and this 'effort' to get him to play nice was quickly terminated the instant they looked like he might. The day following Saddam’s statement of 'compliance' in which he flatly said he would continue to allow the UN inspectors total, unfettered access (that the Inspectors had been reporting they were getting all along), it was Bush (no doubt following Cheney's orders) who caused the UN to order the UN Inspectors out of Iraq on March 20, 2003.

UN Inspectors (most notably and vocally) Mohammed Al Baradei and Scott Ritter had, for months, attempted to get acknowledgement for the fact that Hussein had no WMD to no avail again aided by that damned "Liberal Media" and Hans Blix whose every statement left enough 'wiggle room' for a troop transport to drive through.

(After all, you can’t ‘prove a negative’ – right?)

Also, that "Coalition of the willing" (which the US claimed was 49 but in actuality it was only 39 nations – because some never sent so much as one single soldier in) remains nothing to crow about as it represented a mere 24% of the nations of the world and to brag about it completely ignores the overwhelming condemnation proclaimed from every corner of the globe against our war of choice in Iraq by every major nation except Britain.

Further, the sum total of ALL troops sent in by that underwhelming COTW, accounted for just slightly over 10% of the total of US forces there with some countries sending as few as 6 troops (yes - six).

This number is even AFTER adding in all of the NATO and UN Peacekeeping forces in the entire region. The total number of 'coalition' troops 'having our backs" drops to around 6% of the number of total (pre-surge) US forces if you factor in our “Civilian Contractors” there. Reason alone tells one that the COTW was not exactly ‘supportive’ of our efforts in any measurable way.

History is based on facts – very few of these have either remained unaltered or been touted widely in their true forms consequently many Americans do not know them but facts (as inconvenient as they may be) ARE what history is made of. So here are some of those most pertinent to our past 8 years of history;

Fact: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11
Fact: Bush et al claimed they did (hundreds of times).
Fact: An ignorant and apathetic populace allows this outrage to continue to this day.

Fact: Without the major support of our conservative US Media (not liberal by any stretch of the imagination), this would not have been possible nor would it continue today.
Fact: 36% of Americans (according to a February ‘08 Roper poll) STILL believe Iraq was involved in 9/11.

Fact: Hussein had NO WMD and had made consistent claims (later proven true) that all had been destroyed more than 10 years prior to our 'pre-emptive strike'.
Fact: The US (Dow Chemical) SOLD him his first batch of liquid WMD (after the CIA had put him in power in the first place).

Fact: We sanctioned (and watched silently) while Hussein gassed the Kurds.
Fact: It was more than 10 years AFTER he gassed them that suddenly he became “A Bad Man”.

Fact: His becoming a “Bad Man” coincided with him switching all of Iraq’s Oil Revenue from the Dollar to the Euro in November of 2000.

Fact: The American people (and the world) were constantly told that we were ’17 minutes’ from an attack which could take the ‘shape of a mushroom cloud’.
Fact: Iraq did not even have a viable nuclear program. It could not have produced a nuclear device for at least ten years IF they were left alone to do it.

Fact: 16 US Intelligence Agencies and no fewer than 6 of our Allied Intelligence Agencies made it 100% clear to the Bush Administration that Iraq posed NO threat to the safety and security of the US. An NIE in December 2000 stated straight up that Iraq was no threat - after a cherry-picked version of that report was released for public consumption however, it no longer said that and led one to believe exactly the opposite.

Fact: Bush et al (Rumsfeld heading the pack on this one) claimed we were going in as "Liberators", would be there for 'perhaps six weeks' and would be greeted with 'open arms'.
Fact: Bush never had any intention of allowing our troops to ever come home and plans for permanent bases were already drawn up and in process.

Fact: Going into Iraq, our troops were ordered to protect the OIL PIPELINES to the exclusion of all else. They did in fact follow those orders (as we would expect them to) and stood at those pipelines guarding them while museums, shops, mosques and homes were looted freely and Iraq was leveled.

Fact: Bush (addressing the Iraqi people on March 17, 2003 - just prior to the invasion) told them point blank "Do not destroy oil wells" (Gosh! I wonder why he said that)?

After all this time, with Iraq’s Infrastructure destroyed, a quarter of the Iraq population displaced, half a TRILLION dollars wasted and/or “LOST”, 33,000 wounded and 4,000+ dead US troops, with upwards of a million innocent Iraqis dead, are we still to believe we are there to 'save the Iraqi people?'

Further, your assumption that when Obama is sworn in everyone will hail this so-called 'war' as some great humanitarian effort is so far off base as to be laughable except for the sad fact that following 9/11, Bush actually had some of our weaker minded Citizens (about 36% and mostly Republicans) actually believing that drivel.

So, you want history, sir? Well, thanks to our current ‘leadership’, THIS is now a small part of our "proud" US history - the proof of which can be easily found by anyone willing to follow the timeline and dig around in our own Congressional Record (unless you think the C.R. to be just another “Left-wing", or “Liberal Media” lie also).

Rodney Huff - 7/2/2008

If lying is acceptable to you - if the truth means nothing if it fails to advance the neocon agenda - then why should anyone believe what you say? Why even waste time with people like me who value truth? Why waste your breath over here when you could be wasting Iraqis over there? If you believe this president, then you'll go fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here. Go, go, go. All you armchair warriors, go now!

Rodney Huff - 7/2/2008

"The WMD threat was swallowed whole by most of the Democrats as well as Republicans...."

Does this somehow excuse the lies we were told?

"Israel was going to be wiped out, etc."

Wiped out? Israel is more than capable of defending itself. It is, unlike Iran, nuclear and has an air force and standing army to defend itself. It doesn't need the US.

Yes, from the perspective of Big Oil, the Iraq war is proving a "success," now that the oil corporations are getting what they want - access to Iraq's oil fields. Alan Greenspan even admitted that it's all about the oil.

And let's not forget about Blackwater and KBR! I'm sure the war is a success for them, too. War is so successful for them - such a lucrative business - I bet they can't wait until the next war.

(Does anyone remember Eisenhower's warning to the American people about the undue influence that the military-industrial complex was having on US foreign policy?)

Now, go ask the family members of the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed in this war if they think the war has been a "success." Ask the millions of Iraqis who've been displaced and made homeless by this war if the war has been a "success." Neocons always seem willing to sacrifice other people's lives to further their agenda.

You think the media's role is to cover up mistakes, to lie? This is acceptable to you? Anything goes? Apparently, anything does - as long as the neocon imperialist agenda is being fulfilled.

The news media is supposed to be on the side of truth! Its job is to get at the truth, not to spew propaganda, conceal, and distort.

If the news media had been "hostile," instead of compliant water carriers for this administration, then the truth would have come out sooner and no one would be persisting in these fantasies about the Iraq invasion being something other than about oil and deepening US hegemony.

If you support this war - if you believe in the morality, legality, wisdom, and absolute necessity of this war - then show us the strength of your convictions, strap on a helmet, and get over there. If you're old and infirm, I'm sure you can find some administrative position or scrub some toilets. And if you're a veteran and you still believe in the virtue of this war - great! You have experience! What are you doing over here? Get over there!

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 7/2/2008

You should read the 2004 GOP Convention speech of Sen. John McCain. One thing he says about invading Iraq is "the status quo was not an option." He then details our losses in men and money from years of No Fly Zone, and he might have added how worthless our Allies were financially and in most other ways, and especially how worthless was the UN, etc. The WMD threat was swallowed whole by most of the Democrats as well as Republicans, and by the rest of the world, for that matter. Israel was going to be wiped out, etc.

Iraq has now proven to be a success, and going in there was not a mistake, as everyone will agree at some time in the future, looking back from more distance. No, it wasn't any fun, nor was it cheap, but it probably was the best of the options facing the President.

Yes, it could have gone better, if we'd had the right generals from the start, and yes, there was no reason to expect State and DOD would not collide, as they have before and will again. Large government operations normally aren't very smooth, though in this war the hostile U.S. media did the opposite of covering up our mistakes, as they did in previous wars when they were on our side.

It is ending well now, very well, with astonishing speed, and both our willingness to fight and the skill of our volunteer forces, fully honed, can easily prevent another outbreak somewhere because all our adversaries will think twice about engaging us--especially if McCain is president.

Rodney Huff - 7/1/2008

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”

- - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Rodney Huff - 7/1/2008

What the 9/11 and the Iraq invasion were all about (finally, they're getting what they want):

“Monday's announcement is significant since it paves the way for large foreign firms to re-enter a market they have been effectively barred from since Saddam Hussein nationalised Iraq's main oil company in 1972.”

And from NPR this morning:

Iraq Opens Bidding On Six Oil Fields

Iraq's Oil Ministry will open six prime oil fields to bidding for long-term-development contracts from foreign oil companies.

The move could open the door to foreign oil companies in Iraq for the first time since the 1970s, when Iraq's oil was nationalized.

Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said 41 companies have been prequalified to bid on contracts to upgrade the technology and production at Iraq's main oil fields. Companies have until next March to submit bids.

At the same time, Shahristani said negotiations on some other oil contracts have stalled. Those agreements were supposed to give five of the world's biggest oil companies -- Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Total SA and Chevron Corp.-- short-term contracts to provide technical assistance in Iraq's existing oil fields.

Iraqi officials said the goal was to boost Iraq's oil production by up to 500,000 barrels per day. Shahristani said the oil giants were demanding a share of the oil from those fields instead of payment for services.

Rodney Huff - 7/1/2008

These developments lead me to one conclusion:

Unless Americans wake up, hold our elected officials accountable, and demand a truly independent investigation into 9/11, the following will no doubt happen:

(1) The next paradigm-shifting terrorist attack will be a nuclear one conducted by the same network of corrupt US and foreign government officials, CIA “assets,” and foreign moles which executed the 9/11 attacks, an "inside-outside" job. (Don’t forget the nukes on the plane incident: This was a test to see what they could get away with. The stage is being set.) (2) The device will be detonated in either the US or Israel (probably here), and the attack will be blamed on Iran. (3) The US will declare war on Iran. (4) Dissent, now vilified, will be criminalized in the name of national security. (5) Dissenters, peace activists, and other “enemies of the state” will be thrown into the detention centers recently built by Kellogg, Brown, and Root, the former subsidiary of Halliburton (Cheney’s former company) (And we thought they were for illegal immigrants!) (6) Like Gitmo detainees, the prisoners’ rights to habeas corpus will be trumped by “national security” concerns. The prisoners will be held indefinitely, tortured, and “reeducated.” And that will be the end of the rule of law and the official end of the Republic. In its place an overtly fascist “national security” state will arise.

Our options are to either go along with it or fight to bring our government back under democratic control. Those are the only options I see.

Rodney Huff - 7/1/2008

Sibel Edmonds started working as a translator for the FBI shortly after 9/11. While at the FBI, Edmonds discovered taped conversations that revealed foreign espionage activities involving the funneling of nuclear secrets to Pakistan’s ISI via Turkish agents or “moles.” The moles were positioned in highly sensitive government research and military institutions where they could obtain nuclear secrets by a high-level State Department official who took bribes. When Edmonds sent the evidence up the FBI chain of command to expose these criminal activities, including evidence of drug-trafficking and money laundering associated with the mole network, she was fired.

Edmonds has since been placed under a gag order by the Justice Department; but in closed Congressional hearings, FBI officials heard and corroborated her testimony. Since the hearings, however, the Justice Department has classified Edmonds’s testimony, invoking state secrets privilege.

It gets more interesting.

Though monitored by the FBI, this foreign mole network has been allowed to operate continuously since at least the Clinton administration in order to preserve favorable diplomatic relations.

The consequences of this tradeoff, you wonder?

Once in the hands of Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the nuclear secrets were then sold to none other than (drum roll…) Libya, Iran and North Korea – precisely those “dangerous regimes” we cannot allow to have nuclear weapons, according to the “Bush doctrine.”

Here’s the most frightening part:
Khan caused an alert among western intelligence agencies when his aides met Osama Bin Laden. “We were aware of contact between A Q Khan’s people and Al-Qaeda,” a former CIA officer said last week. “There was absolute panic when we initially discovered this, but it kind of panned out in the end.”
It is likely that the nuclear secrets stolen from the United States would have been sold to a number of rogue states by Khan.

(Hear Sibel Edmonds at

Since Edmonds started blowing the lid off this operation, Bush has sought to make the illicit trade in nuclear secrets with Turkey legal. He has now asked Congress to approve the deals, undoubtedly seeking retroactive immunity for his criminal friends in the State Department and FBI.

So much for the Bush doctrine of keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of rogue states and Al-Qaeda.

It gets worse.

According to Edmonds, shortly after 9/11, there were a number of suspected moles that the FBI wanted to question, but the same State Department official intervened:

Following 9/11, a number of the foreign operatives were taken in for questioning by the FBI on suspicion that they knew about or somehow aided the attacks.
Edmonds said the State Department official once again proved useful. “A primary target would call the official and point to names on the list and say, ‘We need to get them out of the US because we can’t afford for them to spill the beans’,” she said. “The official said that he would ‘take care of it’.” (

So, the State Department official turned loose people who may have been complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

But there was at least one other person involved in the secret deals known to be complicit in 9/11.

At the time the Turkish-Pakistani mole network was infiltrating our government, General Mahmoud Ahmad was head of the Pakistan ISI. Implicating General Ahmad in the deals were covertly recorded conversations Edmonds had access to at the FBI:

The Turks, she says, often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, because they were less likely to attract suspicion. Venues such as the American Turkish Council in Washington were used to drop off the cash, which was picked up by the official.
Edmonds said: “I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of 2½ years. There are almost certainly more.”
The Pakistani operation was led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chief.
Intercepted communications showed Ahmad and his colleagues stationed in Washington were in constant contact with attachés in the Turkish embassy.

And we already heard about General Ahmad’s connection to 9/11.

Recall that Ahmad was the Pakistani official who ordered Al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Omar Sheikh to wire Mahmud Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker, $100,000 just before the 9/11 attacks. Indian intelligence discovered the source of the wire transfer shortly after 9/11, and (this is worth repeating) the FBI confirmed it.

Strangely – perhaps, not surprisingly – the only US media outlet to even mention this crucial piece of information was the Wall Street Journal, which saw fit to bury this item in its online opinion journal:

So, the man who helped fund and coordinate 9/11 was also involved in pilfering nuclear secrets from the US military and passing them on to those “dangerous regimes” Bush has been warning us about.

These are things we ignorant, dumb Americans aren't supposed to know.

Why wasn't there a leak? Because it wasn't in the interests of the handful of high-level officials who knew about the plan to leak, expose the criminal network they're involved in, and incriminate themselves.

Rodney Huff - 7/1/2008

Why wasn't there a leak?

Because knowledge of 9/11 was limited to only those high-level officials who had a stake in a terrost attack and who had the power to quash any FBI or CIA investigation that could have uncovered the plot, and these people certainly had the power to silence any whistle-blowers.

There's the story of Sibel Edmonds, of course. Ever hear of her? Probably not.

Rodney Huff - 7/1/2008

"But polls indicate that a significant segment of the American public was susceptible to wild conspiracy theories."

I don't think there's anything wild in thinking that elements of this government allowed or facilitated the 9/11 attacks. It is well-documented, for instance, that the Bush administration received several warnings about terrorist attacks involving hijacked airplanes being used as missiles, including warnings about an Al- Qaeda attack from at least 14 foreign governments during the summer of 2001, not to mention the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" (see Paul Thompson's Terror Timeline). And yet we were told by Bush and Cheney and Condi Rice and Ari Fleischer that no one could have ever imagined hijacked airplanes being used as missiles – an outrageous lie.

We also know we were bamboozled when, in its final report, the Philip Zelikow-headed 9/11 Commission stated: "To date, the U.S. government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately the question is of little practical significance" (see Chapter 5.4).

This is a double outrageous lie. First, it IS important. How can it not be? You would have to be stupid to believe that who paid for 9/11 is “of little practical significance.” Remember what Watergate taught us: “Follow the money.”

Second, we already know who paid for 9/11. It is common knowledge that Mahmud Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker, received a wire transfer of $100,000 shortly before 9/11. Shortly after 9/11, Indian intelligence traced the source of the wire transfer to Al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Omar Sheikh. According to Indian intelligence, Sheikh took his orders from General Mahmud Ahmad, who was at the time head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Indian government passed this intelligence on to the FBI, and the FBI confirmed it.

Why this story has been suppressed by the American corporate media is not surprising when you consider that the CIA has been in cahoots with the ISI since at least 1979, when Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brezinsky, initiated a policy that funneled money to the mujaheddin in Afghanistan through Pakistan’s ISI. The money helped the mujaheddin fight the Soviet-backed Afghani government that instituted land reforms and educational programs for women that weren’t popular with the fundamentalist elite. The mujaheddin was headed by none other than Usama bin Laden, whose army of anti-Soviet radicals was trained and funded by the CIA. With CIA support, the mujaheddin eventually forced the Soviets out of the country, preparing the way for the Taliban regime and Al-Qaeda, both consisting of remnants of the mujaheddin and both supported by Pakistan, whose allegiances to this day remain conflicted. (

Now if the US were fighting a war against “terrorists” and those who harbor them, then Bush would no doubt be bombing Pakistan for its support of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Ben Handshue - 6/30/2008

You are misinterrepting what I'm saying. First of all, I said leaked not announce. Leaked means to vwecome publicily known through a breach in secrecy. Of course the main consiprators won't announce their plans; but what about the people that had resigned before it happened such as Richard Clarke, or Paul wouldn't they have haid something. I'm curious as to why you believe that the United States would do such a thing. Give Specifics please

Bill McWilliams - 6/30/2008

Most conspirators don't go on TV or the internet and announce their plans.

Ben Handshue - 6/30/2008

Lets assume the Adminstration did commit these horrible Acts wouldn't this secret have been leaked before 9/11 because screts are difficult to keep especially in this day and age with the internet and television at peoples disposiable.

Bill McWilliams - 6/30/2008

More and more of our citizens do not believe in the bizarre 9/11 conspiracy theory which posits that a cave dweller and 19 young men defeated the entire U.S. defense system.

Who could blame them? After all, to this date, no evidence has been given to the American people in support of the Administration's claims that OBL was the culprit in the events of 9/11.

How many people here realize that the Administration has never released any high-resolution video images of ANY of the events at the WTC, let alone at the Pentagon?

More and more, it's becoming clear that the Aministration's conspiracy theory is weaker than water. 9/11
wasn't a conspiracy. It was a false flag operation - falsely blamed on

It's impossible to study the facts and come away saying "our Gov. wouldn't lie to us about something THAT important."

Ben Handshue - 6/30/2008

I agree with you that most Americans are very susceptible to myths such as that the Government intentionally allowed planes to crash into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I personally do not think the government permitted those attacks it logically does not fit.)Why is this so?
I think it is starts with the twisting and bending facts about our government. Over the past 25 years, our federal government has engaged in illegal and/or questionable activities. During the Reagan years, key members of Reagan administration have been involved in illegal operations such as the Iran-Contra affair and the selling of biological agents to Saddam. See both Kerry and Riegle Report. 20 years later, some of theses people are members of George W. Bush’s administration.
George W. Bush did not just appoint members from the Reagan Administration who were involved in these in activities, but he also appointed people who were advocating the ouster of Saddam before the World trade center attacks. Though Clinton signed the act to ouster Saddam Hussein into law, Congress, which was Republican at the time created the legislation so that President Clinton could sign it into law.
Even after 9/11 there were suspicion grew that Bush Administration may have helped caused 9/11, simply because the Bush Administration was not willing to create a commission to investigate what led to those tragic attacks until the Jersey Girls put pressure on president to form a commission to understand why 9/11 happened. Then The Jersey Girls who understandably shaken about the tragedy that happened to their husbands and the fact that Government was not willing to do an internal investigation is troubling.
It seems irrational to believe that the United States could have participated in such evil and disturbing attacks. However, what is disturbing is how the government is acting leading up to and following those attacks. Will conspiracy theories die out? No! I think What we need is understand why conspiracy theories exist and demand that the government should tell the truth. By the way, what are your thoughts on the listeners of talk radio are better informed than those who watch television?

HNN - 6/30/2008

It's the politicians who exploit our myths. They take ideas they know we are culturally wired to respond to and use them to get their way with us.

Americans are not exactly passive. We resist manipulation quite often. But myths are so much a part of who we are and the values we cherish that we often don't see the myths. They drive our response to politicians' speeches and yet remain invisible.

We can't abolish these myths. But if we can see them we can deal with them rationally.

Jerry A Austiff - 6/30/2008

The point of Mr. Shenkman's article is expanded upon greatly by Al Gore's book "The Assault on Reason" published in 2007. Nearly every intelligence expert who was not intoxicated by Neocon ideology back in 2002 was alarmed at the decision to invade Iraq. The folly of the invasion and the criminal lack of adequate planning for the aftermath made this fiasco almost inevitable. Rational debate and political discussion not ruled by partisan interests has disappeared from our national arena. The fact that 40-50 percent of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 reflects poorly on the national media which was uninterested in probing, rigorous journalism all during the build-up to the invasion. Political discourse in this country is nothing more than variations of "swift-boat" character attacks launched back and forth between the right and left. Convention political wisdom used to be a reliable barometer of what policies the United States would adhere to in foreign and domestic matters but alas, convention wisdom has degenerated into which side won that day's political campaign wars. The media-driven, cynical public opinion campaigns funded by special interests are custom-made for our 30-second attention spans and "media-buys" so profitable to television and radio. As one after another matter of great national interest is shotgunned by corporate-sponsored media attacks, it is no wonder that in this age of technological wonderment, we are more ignorant and misinformed that at any time in our Nation's history. Edward Murrow's warning that television if it does not inform/educate will become no more than "lights in a box" has tragically become fact - to the detriment of us all.

omar ibrahim baker - 6/30/2008

That such an American public elects the USA President who , in turn, plays havoc with the world is a universal tragedy.

That "myth" plays such a decisive role in US foreign policy as far as US-Arab/Moslems relations are concerned is hyper tragic to both.

However I was on the look out in Professor Shenkman’s article for anything touching on the question of:
- "Who is, are, cultivating and nurturing the "myths" and profiting there from ?"
To no avail!

Michael Davis - 6/30/2008

Where were you when we were bombing the hell out of Kosovo, and then stationing thousands of US soldiers to prevent more genocide? I don't recall hearing your anger at Clinton, Cohen and Madeleine Halfbright for sticking us in a never ending nation building exercise. Guess what? US Soldiers are still stationed at Camp Bondsteel nine years later.

You fail to even familiarize yourself with the history and the multiple UNSC resolutions that Saddam disobeyed and totally flouted, and the legion of Democrats in the late 90's who were calling for his ouster. The fact is, the US had 18, yes 18, European nations on board when it was decided to remove Saddam by force in early 2003. Why wouldn't the American people go along with such a coalition?

I'm sure once President Obamer is sworn in, you will change your tune and think of Iraq as a great humanitarian mission, with our fearless leader, B. Hussein Obamer leading us.