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A Look at Bush’s Iraq Lies in the State of the Union and Truth-Telling In the Media

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We speak with Leslie Cagan of the antiwar coalition United for Peace and Justice about Bush’s statements on Iraq. She criticizes Bush for “talking about a war but not mentioning that anybody has died in the war–either Iraqis or U.S. soldiers.”
And we hear from columnist and Institute for Public Accuracy director Norman Solomon who likens the State of the Union address to the “sanitized” media coverage of the Iraq invasion and says, “you can pretend and have the image of war as a glorious enterprise without referring to the slaughter, the suffering, the continued anguish of people and the mourning and also without reference to the deception that was the cornerstone of the war to begin with.” [includes transcript]

  • Leslie Cagan, is the National Coordinator of the antiwar coalition United for Peace and Justice. She is also the current Chairperson of the Pacifica National Board.
  • Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and a nationally syndicated columnist. He is co-author of Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You (Context Books, 2003).

Behind Bush’s State of the Union: Part II of a Five-Part Special

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Video squareStoryJan 21, 2004Arundhati Roy, Hans Von Sponeck Respond to Bush’s State of the Union on Iraq
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We move now to Leslie Cagan.


AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Leslie Cagan, who is the Chair of the Pacifica National Board but also National Coordinator of the anti-war coalition, United for Peace and Justice, which is mobilizing in this election year and mobilizing for the first anniversary of the invasion, your response to President Bush’s address last night?

LESLIE CAGAN: I actually watched the speech in great horror, and I couldn’t, I went back and forth between being completely outraged at the lies: the lies, the distortion, the half truths, the lies by omission, talking about a war but not mentioning that anybody has died in the war, either Iraqis or U.S. soldiers. On the one hand being completely outraged by the fact that this man can get up and speak to the world, not only to this country, but to the world, lie after lie after lie. And on the other hand, to be honest, a little depressed that this man is the President of the United States. That he has the arrogance to run again, and that the people, some people, might actually vote for him.

AMY GOODMAN: You are saying lies, but like what? Like what?

LESLIE CAGAN: Again, I think the lies of omission are as important as any other lie. To talk about a war, a war against terrorism and a war against Iraq, and not mention that any U.S. service people have died, that any Iraqis have died, that’s a lie. It misrepresents the truth, and so in so doing, that’s a lie.

AMY GOODMAN: you have a sticker that you brought in that’s on the table —

LESLIE CAGAN: “Bush Lies, Who Dies?” This is not only about — it’s not only about Iraq, but it’s also about our country here. The billions of dollars that are being spent on this war and our schools are crumbling; our health care system is in shambles. The lie about health care reform, about meeting the needs of seniors, it’s outrageous. The thousands and thousands of dollars that many, many seniors have to pay every year for basic prescriptions that keep them alive, this new health care system, all that it’s really going to serve is the profits, the increased profits of the pharmaceutical companies. It doesn’t serve the needs of seniors in this country. Maybe I’m more and more concerned about that as my hair gets grayer and grayer. That’s another lie. There were lies about the domestic agenda as well as the foreign policy reality.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by Norman Solomon, who is author of the book, “Target Iraq — What the News Media Didn’t Tell You,” and Executive Director of the Institute For Public Accuracy, your response?

NORMAN SOLOMON: We really saw an address that, like the media coverage of this war, sanitizes warfare as though there were no death involved. It’s like a village, a P.R. operation. I think Arundhati Roy was referring to that. When you can pretend and have the image of war as a glorious enterprise without referring to the slaughter, the suffering, the continued anguish of people and the mourning and also without reference to the deception that was the cornerstone of the war to begin with. It’s notable that of course, Bush, but the news media as well, did not note last night or this morning that one year ago in the State Of the Union Address, president Bush, not just in the famous 16 words but elsewhere, laid a pattern, a groundwork of lies and deceit about the purported weapons of mass destruction and so forth. What we basically have now is the beginning of a year-long push to present an image of a kinder, gentler militarism. Slaughter without bloodshed, killing without death.

AMY GOODMAN: There has been a lot of discussion that there are many sectors that are dissatisfied right now in this country. You have service people, more than 500 have died in Iraq. Many thousands have been injured. That’s rarely talked about. We’re not supposed to see the pictures of the caskets coming home. The intelligence community, who feels that intelligence has been manipulated. Now, that’s not just in this country. Norman Solomon. You have been writing about a woman in Britain who is part of the Intelligence Establishment there. Can you tell us at this point what is happening with Katherine Gunn and who she was?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Yes, she is being prosecuted for the purported crime of telling the truth, quite a contrast to President Bush, who lied on the record a year ago and is being applauded and feted by the big money interests and the media. Katherine Gunn was involved in the leak of a memo in last March to the World Press through the Observer in London. A memo from the National Security Agency outlined a program in progress to wiretap six delegations, key swing vote delegations at the United Nations in New York. When that story came out in March, there were headlines around the world, not in the U.S. Press, and an uproar. Several of the countries involved were outraged. The government of Chile, when it learned of the wiretapping of its own delegation in New York, backed away from supporting the pro-war resolution that the U.S. and the U.K. were pushing. Essentially, this woman was a truth-teller. She was the Daniel Elsburg of Britain, and as Dan Elsburg has said, her action in leaking this memo before war was in his words more timely and potentially more important than the Pentagon Papers. She was arrested and formally lost her job in June. November, she was named and arraigned in court. Monday of this week, she was brought to court and charged she will proceed with the prosecution. The British under the draconian Official Secrets Act has forbidden her to talk to her lawyers about what she was doing as an Intelligence Agency employee in Britain. It’s only been on Monday of this week that the New York Times for the first time mentioned her name in print, two months after the British Press began to report on this truth-teller. Even then, Monday, it was a story broken not by the news department of the New York Times, which did a slick “by omission” detour around her story for two months but was Bob Herbert of the New York Times Op-Ed page, the regular columnist that brought her name into the print in the supposed newspaper of record in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the response of the British public?

NORMAN SOLOMON: The British public is getting more and more information. There’s a ground swell of support. The equivalent of the ACLU in Britain, an organization called Liberty is doing pro bono defense. One of the things happening is that her defense is going to put the illegality of this war on trial. Her conduct both in terms of providing this public information and now as a defendant, I think it’s been exemplary in the tradition not only of Dan Elsburg, but Ghandi and Martin Luther King and hundreds of thousands of activists who today talk and speak and act on the basis of conscience.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Norman Solomon, who has been following the case of Katherine Gunn and also what is happening in Iraq, author of “Target Iraq.”

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