A Bush Admimistration Suffering From Xeroderma Pigmentosum
Why is it that we are so willing to believe the worst about the Bush administration? Many of us believe that the 9/11 Commission Report is too full of holes to be an adequate explanation of what happened that day, that Bush and Co. not only massaged and cherry-picked intelligence, but also downright manufactured it to bolster their case for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq. We believe that Valerie Plame was outed by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in an orchestrated attempt to not only silence and discredit her husband Joe Wilson, but also to muddy the intelligence pool so as to make it easier to make false claims about Iranian nuclear capabilities. We believe that Dick Cheney allowed oil industry executives to write our energy policy in secret meetings that to this day we are not allowed to see the records of, and now we believe that he is hiding the facts surrounding his shooting of his “friend” Mr. Whittington. When this administration clearly suffers from the political equivalent of xeroderma pigmentosum (sensitivity to light often resulting in retardation, deafness, poor coordination and spastic muscles), is it really any wonder that we wonder what they’re up to in a White House with the drapes tightly closed?
The secrecy with which the Bush administration operates coupled with the downright contempt they have for the press, and by extension the people, together create an atmosphere of distrust and provide a fertile breeding ground for conspiracy theories. What are theories but the best possible guess, most logical conclusion based on incomplete data? With an administration classifying more documents than any other before them, we are forced to either accept their explanations on faith, or rely on leaked information, omitted facts and the end results of their actions from which we can draw logical conclusions of our own. As with everything else in our country, we seem to be split down the middle, with half the country taking the faith option and half of us left trying to make sense of the disparate pieces of information we find.
Nicholas Von Hoffman wrote an article for the New York Observer this past week titled “Government Secrecy Inspires Conspiracy, Paranoia and Rumors” and in it he writes, “One of the salient characteristics of an authoritarian or a totalitarian society is the part played by rumors, whispers, speculation, tattle-tales, and the sly humor of cynical people accustomed to a civic and political life in which lies alternate with silence. Such a society is hallmarked by the prevalence of conspiracy theories and conspiracy thinking.” It seems that many of us are already living as if we were under authoritarian control, and in our minds at least, we are. The growing transparency with which we are asked to live, monitored phone calls and internet activity, virtual strip searches at airports conducted by machines that give an x-rated view of our bodies, laws that allow “sneak and peak” intrusions into our homes without warrant or probably cause, library records tracked, is certainly not matched by our government. While we are forced into glass houses, this administration has erected a lead wall around the White House that allows no outside light to be shined on it and will tolerate no question to its authority.
Is it any wonder that there are conspiracy theories abounding? Conspiracy theories derive from inadequate official explanations that willfully ignore relevant facts that, when discovered, form the nut of an alternate account. Take the 9/11 Commission Report, for example. There was inadequate information relating to the practice military maneuvers being conducted that day by Dick Cheney, all information regarding Able Danger was scrubbed from the report because according to the commissioners, it was irrelevant, and the simple fact that the WTC towers fell in a freefall fashion reminiscent of a controlled demolition rather than a collapse by fire (an event that has never occurred before anywhere in a building of that size), all raised questions about the validity of the explanations given in the final report issued by the 9/11 Commission. Of course there would be people left unconvinced, who would then track down the missing data and use it to form an alternative and more logical accounting of the event.
When the government hides from its citizens the relevant facts, we the people begin to question why this information is being withheld. Conspiracy theories are our best attempt to understand what is left unexplained. Another example is the Iraq War and the classified information that was used in making the decision to go to war. We now know that the intelligence was faulty, massaged and in some cases downright manufactured. Why the secrecy? Rational people aren’t capable of ignoring relevant facts and therefore we turn to alternate explanations based on leaked classified data like the Downing Street Minutes, mixed with logical conclusions taking into account the results. If we look at who benefited most from the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it seems likely they were not merely unintended consequences, but foreseeable outcomes that helped form the intent.
The outing of Valerie Plame is another good example of the secrecy with which this administration operates and the more we learn about the details of her exposure by Scooter Libby and Karl Rove, the more it looks like the intent was more than just retaliatory. It has been reported that Plame was in fact working on nuclear proliferation at the time she was outed and even more disturbing, her work was focused on Iran. Was her operation halted in an effort to muddy the waters, to allow for the obscuring of facts to make it easier for the Bush administration to make a case for a pre-emptive strike on Iran? With an administration so secretive and with such blatant contempt for the people’s right to know what our government is doing, it’s no wonder so many have a negative view and are so willing to believe that they have sinister motives. When the results of the Bush administration actions consistently proves beneficial to their friends and business associates, it defies logic that these benefits were not intended. Hindsight often weakens the Bush administrations official accounts and strengthens the alternative theories put forth.
Given his track record of secrecy and contempt for the American people, it’s not surprising that Dick Cheney’s account of what happened on that Texas Ranch is being questioned. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that his shooting his friend in the face and chest was anything other than a terrible accident. But because we know him and his penchant for lying and conducting his business behind closed doors, we do question his account. And his actions after the incident, not talking immediately to the local authorities, not alerting the press and refusing to answer questions publicly, only reinforce the feeling that he’s got something to hide. Our experience tells us that he isn’t a straight shooter, in hunting or governing.
If sunlight is the best disinfectant, we can only assume that the Bush White House is one dirty place. They continually promote the idea that if citizens don’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t be concerned with NSA, Pentagon or FBI spying and infringements on our right to privacy, but what about them? The more they hide, the more we question their motives for doing so. Transparency in government is as essential to democracy as the freedoms laid out in the Bill of Rights. When we are asked to give up those things, we are being asked to give up on our democracy. What does it say about us that we are even willing to consider surrendering any of them?