Our leaders so often lie, but we still believe them.

Summary: The RussiaGate story rests on statements by government officials – regarded as gospel by the Left. It is a betrayal of their past, ignoring the lessons hard learned during the past three generations. Much of the Left has become gullible servants (useful idiots) of the intel agencies running this op agianst Trump. As usual in such matters, we do not know how or why. Seeing the history of government lies might help them recover.

“Since becoming a journalist I had often heard the advice to “believe nothing until it has been officially denied”.
— Claud Cockburn (Irish journalist) quoted in Discord of Trumpets: The Autobiography of a Legendary Newspaperman (1956). Often attributed to Bismarck.

Foresight

Here’s the big list of lies by our leaders. This is post number 4,600 on the FM website. It’s one of the most important posts. It should be posted in every home. America will change when enough Americans no longer accept leaders who lie – even those of their own party. Post other big lies by our leaders In the comments post.

(1)  Examples of lies that shaped our world

“I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.”
— George Washington in his Farewell Address (1796).

Truth, not Pravda, Will Make You Free

The history of American since WWII is one of lies by leaders that we eagerly embrace. No matter how often they lie, we believe. Here are some of the most outrageous, some of the most influential, and some that are just routine.

They lied, there was no missile gap.

They lied, there was no bomber gap.

9-11 was not staged from Afghanistan.

They lied. Saddam was not working with al Qaeda.

They lied. Iraq’s soldiers didn’t kill babies in Kuwait.

They lied. Torture didn’t help us find & kill bin Laden.

They lied. Hitler didn’t plan to conquer South America.

They lied. The Russians shot down our U-2 over Russia.

US lied about having intel about Saddam’s functional WMDs.

They lied. The police didn’t warn 12-year old Tamir Rice before killing him.

Iran has been 3 years from having an atomic bomb since 1984 (& still doesn’t have it).

They lied. There were no Libyan hit teams roaming America in 1981 (gated TIME article; open version).

They lied about the Tonkin Gulf incident. It was the excuse for our involvement in the Vietnam War.

They lied. Yemen’s al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) does not “pose the great­est poten­tial threat to the United States.”

The 1976 “Team B” reports about the aggressive powerful USSR were fiction, but shaped US military policy in the 1980s.

The USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 (we eventually admitted it, then lied about the circumstances). More details here.

The US government lied about ISIS in Syria and Iraq that “We are now facing an existential threat to the security of the United States of America …”

The US government long denied the CIA’s Operation Ajax, its involvement at the center of the 1953 coup overthrowing the elected government of Iran. They admitted it in 2017 (of course, everybody in Iran already knew – only Americans were still ignorant).

The US long denied CIA and special ops involvement in the Phoenix program in South Vietnam, especially the torture and assassination. They still put a happy face on it. But there is too much evidence. Here is a balanced, if rosy, summary in the NYT.

This is just a sample. The list of big lies by our government officials is very long.

(2)  FDR’s campaign against Germany before Pearl Harbor

“I have in my possession a secret map, made in Germany”
— Speech by FDR on 27 October 1941 about NAZI plans to conqueror the western hemisphere.

The British set up the Security Coordination project to run information operations in the US to push us into WWII. See this description of the BSC in The Guardian. Their greatest success was the fake map showing Hitler’s plans to invade the western hemisphere, a keynote of FDR’s powerful speech on 27 October 1941 (see this story in The Daily Mail. For the full story see British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-1945. See the background and the video.

Relive the cold war

(3)  Fear-mongering to start the Cold War

“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it. That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”

— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s advice to Truman about how to start the Cold War. On 12 March 1947 Truman did exactly that. From Put yourself in Marshall’s place by James P. Warburg (1948). In 1941 he helped develop our wartime propaganda programs.

The Soviet Union was a great power, looking for opportunities to expand after WWII. But the US government created the Cold War by exaggerating its menace and power, and lied routinely to keep it going.

What’s sad is that they’re running the same playbook again, and we’re buying it. Government officials demonize Russia while ignoring our role in creating the Ukraine civil war: Finding truth amidst the lies about Russia & the Ukrainian civil war.

For more about this see The Ukraine anti-semitic flyer: a case study in propaganda, Let’s stop the 2-minute hate on Putin & think before we reignite the Cold War and Finding truth amidst the lies about Russia & the Ukrainian civil war. and The first rule of American war is not to believe what we’re told.

Truth in society

(4)  All our foes are Hitler

“Every nation has the government it deserves.”
— Joseph de Maistre (lawyer, diplomat, philosopher), letter dated 13 August 1811 from Lettres et Opuscules.

Just as every geopolitical crisis is Munich 1938 to our hawks, all our foes are Hitler. Here are some claims by our Presidents. There’s a larger body from US officials, and an almost endless list of often-daft such claims by our geopolitical “experts” and other Very Serious People.

Saddam Hussein was not like Hitler, despite both Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. making the comparison. Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia was not Hitler, despite Bill Clinton making the comparison. Vladimir Putin is not Hitler, despite Hillary Clinton making the comparison of Russia with Nazi Germany (as did British PM David Cameron).

See more examples in an excerpt from War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death by Norman Solomon (2005), and in “61 Times Bill Kristol Was Reminded of Hitler and Churchill“.

Trust

(5) Other examples of lies to guide us

“An honest man’s word is as good as his bond.”
— Said by the squire Sancho Panza in Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote (1605).

Keeping us scared by false alarms about terrorism in America: The US government is competent, as proven by the results of the latest terror alert, Should we panic at the many warnings about domestic terrorism?, Are ISIS terrorists coming to America from a base in Mexico?, Who believes that the Federal government seeks to take over Texas?, and Prepare for terror on the 4th of July!

Debunking the lies: The most useful news story of 2015: the truth about the bin Laden hit.

Add your contributions to the list in the comments.

White feather of cowardice

(6) Are we cowards, or just unusually gullible?

“Cowardice, alone of all the vices, is purely painful — horrible to anticipate, horrible to feel, horrible to remember; Hatred has its pleasures. It is therefore often the compensation by which a frightened man reimburses himself for the miseries of Fear. The more he fears, the more he will hate. And Hatred is also a great anodyne for shame.”

— From the demon Screwtape, in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

See the common element to these lies: They arouse our fear. Why does fear have such an effect on us, despite officials’ long history of lying to us about threats? How do you describe people ruled by their fears? We call them cowards. It’s the description of us that none of us dare say.

Our leaders so frequently employ fear to guide us because lies work. The information superhighway has not made us smarter, it just carries the lies faster and father. Our leaders will stop when we become stronger and more skeptical. On that day we will have taken a large step towards retaking control of America. We hold the solution in our hands…

(7) For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about FEAR, those about fighting propaganda, and these about lies by our leaders…

  1. Why we believe lies: A picture of America, showing a path to political reform.
  2. Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations.
  3. Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda.
  4. Amnesia and anger: one is the problem, the other the cure.
  5. Government officials’ lies erode the Republic’s foundation. Do we care?
  6. Important advice: Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America. About “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.

31 thoughts on “Our leaders so often lie, but we still believe them.

    1. Godfree,

      Wow. I understand why you were blocked. That’s some heavy fake news, and can easily be mistaken for that of a propagandist of China.

      Living in the SF Bay area for 30 years, I met quite a few students, workers, and expats from China. Their accounts disagree with yours pretty radically. There are nuggets of truth in it. But that’s SOP with fake stories – from urban legends to pro propaganda.

      1. Larry, FYI Roberts is a regular on Unz, where he is the resident China expert.That last noun might oughtta be in quotes. The cited article is pretty representative. On the whole right up there, down there, whatever, with the moon landing or the Holocaust were faked.

        Too bad because he writes well and comes across as really knowing his subject. Interesting to watch the fifty-centers who come to his defense in the comments.

      2. The massacres were real, as is the US has been touting that China is going to take over all the industry since about the 1920’s. IIRC, this is somewhere on the FM site.

      3. John,

        “US has been touting that China is going to take over all the industry since about the 1920’s”

        If by the “US”, you mean the US government – I’d like to see evidence. It seems unlikely to me. That is, a gross exaggeration.

        Unfair competition does not mean “take over all the industry.” Unfair competition can give a foreign company an edge that affects the profitability of US competitors. In many industries, the #1 makes a lot of money, #2 makes a good profit, #3 gets by (often losing money in recessions), and the others more or less stay alive (unless they’ve found lucrative niches). It doesn’t take much to shift that balance. Government aid in its home market or export subsidies can have large effects.

        If it your job that is lost, you might be less blasé about the subject.

      4. The Yellow Peril (also the Yellow Terror and the Yellow Spectre) is a racist color-metaphor that is integral to the xenophobic aspect of colonialism: that the peoples of East Asia are an existential danger to the Western world. As a psycho-cultural perception of menace from the Eastern world, fear of the Yellow Peril was more racial than national, a fear derived, not from concern with a specific source of danger, from any one country or people, but from a vaguely ominous, existential fear of the faceless, nameless horde of yellow people opposite the Western world. As a form of xenophobia, the Yellow Terror is the fear of the non-white Other, from the Orient, as imagined in the racialist book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1920), by Lothrop Stoddard.[1]

        From Wiki with links.

        Personal note: I am retired now; but those that remain where I worked are afraid that in chasing the Chinese market, the US company will be sold off, or the Chinese will take the market. I am thankful I made it.

      5. John,

        I don’t understand your point. Americans had racist attitudes toward Asians. Asians had racist attitudes towards other races. Many on both sides still do. As should be obvious, racism is a common trait among humanity.

        How is any of this relevant to a post about lies by government officials? Racists are not lying when they talk about other races. They are wrong, which is quite different.

      6. Larry, they have been telling lies about the Chinese taking jobs from USA for a long time.Even though it finally appears to be true, part of it is self inflicted wounds wrt trade treaties.

        One of the tendencies I have noted on the left and the right is to use the one time they were correct, to claim they were always correct. With our amnesia, my opinion is that we should still call this a lie.

        Besides I find racism a big lie as well. You and I appear to differ on that.

      7. John,

        “they have been telling lies about the Chinese taking jobs from USA for a long time.”

        You must be kidding us, or yourself. It’s not a lie. China’s merchandise trade practices – suppression of the value of the yuan, barriers to imports, theft of intellectual property – have been quite effective.

        “Besides I find racism a big lie as well.”

        The word “lie” has an actual meaning. It’s not what you think it is.

  1. Hi Larry-

    “Shaped the narrative” is a more polite way to say lied. This week, I learned how the Daughters of Confederacy did it.

    About ten years ago, I interviewed several professors who were relooking Reconstruction (the Period after the Civil War) as a small war. Their findings were fascinating and upsetting.

    This week, PBS published a comprehensive documentary about it. I just finished it, and I’d highly recommend it. Your readers might want to see it. Lots to learn.

    https://www.pbs.org/show/reconstruction-america-after-civil-war/

    -Mike

    1. Mike,

      Thanks for the pointer! I’d be interested to see an article about this.

      That Reconstruction was a violent conflict isn’t a new idea. That’s what I was taught about it in the 1970s. It is one of the pre-eminent examples of a successful insurgency following total defeat in war. As metrics of their success, see the resurgence of the Democratic Party, successful suppression of the African-American vote, institution of sharecropping (on grossly inequitable terms), and the rapid economic recovery of the southern aristocracy.

      The last is esp significant. Full recover in a generation! See “The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After the Civil War” by Philipp Ager et al., May 2019. See this early August 2016 version, ungated.

      1. As an addition to “They lie” is “They do ugly things when you believe their lies”:

        “Before the 1895 Constitution, voter registration limits were lower; voting was open to all males of 21 years. In the 1895 Constitution, the focus of voter registration became one of “intelligence” instead of “personhood.” Individuals would, until January 1, 1898, have to be able to answer questions about any constitutional provision asked in order to qualify as a voter. Thereafter, the registration process included a test of reading and writing; individuals with at least $20 in property were also permitted to vote.[3] The change from the 1868 constitution’s “personhood” to the 1895 constitution’s “intelligence” was due to the 1895 constitution’s framers’ desire to disenfranchise African Americans in order to bar them from participation in the political process. According to the state’s Democratic Party-leaning newspapers, the motivations behind changing the constitution were clear:

        We can trust white men to do right by the inferior race, but we cannot trust the inferior race with power over the white man.— Charleston News and Courier”

        Jim Crow was the legislative victory of the war against the ex-slaves.

        Strange about the Iran 1953 coup just now being admitted. It was part of contemporary college education in the 1970’s, especially by those who were against the war in Vietnam – personal experience.

      2. John,

        I have no idea what you are talking about, as you give no name or link. What is the “1895 constitution.”

        Also, what is the “lie” you refer to? The racists believed African-Americans to be inferior. Racism is an almost ubiquitous belief across human societies, and is still common around the world today. The East Asian slave trade has restarted, albeit on a small scale.

        “Jim Crow was the legislative victory of the war against the ex-slaves.”

        As said above, it was implemented as part of the South’s long-term and successful insurgency following their military defeat in the Civil War. Without the organized violence, I doubt if Jim Crow could have been voted through or maintained.

      3. I’m assuming that John is referring to the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and 1875 pushed through by a Republican Congress before Southern Whites were really back into government. Many of these new laws which set a level playing field and allowed blacks to really start flourishing were rolled back in the late 1890’s starting with Plessy V. Ferguson. Jim Crow would come later.

        Again, I’d really recommend the documentary.

      4. Mike,

        Perhaps so, But “1895 Constitution” is not an accurate description.

        Also, that’s not really what happened. First, Southern whites used violence to suppress Black voting. This allowed a second phase to their counter-revolution, as they re-gained control of State governments, which led to laws legally limiting Black voting (Georgia’s poll tax in 1877 is usually said to be the first). The Federal 1875 Civil Rights Law was declared mostly unconstitutional in 1883. The third phase was changes to State Constitutions in the 1890s.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disenfranchisement_after_the_Reconstruction_Era

        The first Jim Crow laws were enacted in the 1870s, as part of the first phase of the South’s counter-revolution. The fourth phase was another wave of segregationist laws in 1900 – 1920s. These are often called Jim Crow laws, but were just the cherry on the top of the legal structure erected during the previous 30+ years.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws#Origins_of_Jim_Crow_laws

      5. Sorry, I left I was referring to the 1895 South Carolina constitution at which Ben Pitchfork Tillman stated the purpose was to stop blacks from voting, and if not that, then no black could be elected. I also should have acknowledged that the war on blacks was over a period of time.

    2. There’s one more, rarely mentioned, “discrepancy:”
      Did the US officials promise the Soviets never to expand NATO eastwards?
      As there’s no “clear” answer, then some must be false…

  2. There’s one peculiar trend in this stream of lies over the times:
    The British were very careful in their effort to create a good reason for the US to enter the war against the Axis. Hitler’s dreams did indeed include conquering the West Hemisphere; yet, as there were no immediate plans to do so — British “provided” them.
    The missile gap surely wasn’t as claimed; yet the SU spent relatively more effort (not only in terms of their relative GDP) in the ICBM development than the US (the Soviet Germans worked harder on those then the American Germans;-) There’s even more sinister speculation about this — major contractors didn’t see the profits from rockets as comforting as those from bombers.
    And forward to the 21st Century:
    The Intel agencies were sure there were no WMD in Iraq — that was why the “Coalition” could invade; in contrast with DPRK situation — as Kim does have some, any form of attack would be just the very last, and IMHO, mad option.
    The same actors, with support of the Democrats, enacted the “Russiagate” despite the obvious fallacy from the beginning.
    So this trend from plausible (half-truth) toward complete fiction signifies an increasing, up to a complete, disregard for the “consumer’s cognitive abilities.”

    Something else could be observed as emerging from the last few posts on FM — I don’t think intentionally:
    This “We the people…” was, possibly, not meant to be all inclusive. Perhaps on a similar principle of the unchecked immigration from “SH” countries — diluting the potential of ever reverting to the “true republic” it meant to be…

  3. Republicans lied recently about infanticide when they claimed that Democrats were attempting to make it legal.

    1. JD,

      US politicians lie like they breath. We insist that they do. We’re only slightly more likely to elect a zombie to office than an honest person.

      This list is about lies by officials speaking in their official capacity about government actions.

  4. Hi Larry,

    If I could short an official narrative, I’d put all I got into the Skripal affair. Nothing in the official narrative makes any sense. Craig Murray writes: But today we learn from The Guardian (quoting the New York Times) that Donald Trump was only convinced to back the UK government line after being shown photos of dead ducks and hospitalised children by CIA director Gina Haspel. … The problem is that, there were no hospitalised children. No children have been reported as becoming ill following their duck feeding with the Skripals. And no dead ducks, according to Salisbury resident and Skripal affair skeptic Rob Slane at his blog The Blog Mire.

    Regards,

    Bill

    1. Bill

      I agree. This is a list of lies by US officials. But the Affair Skripal shows that others are as massively gullible as us. Murray’s posts are depressing evidence of how far the Brits have fallen.

  5. Truth tends to be complex, and is often not very satisfying. it is far easier to believe a simple but compelling lie.

  6. There’s a lot I could say about this, but comments longer than the post are uncouth, so I’ll say that all successful deception is rooted in self deception. To quote a line from Len Deighton (Yesterday’s Spy, I believe ) “It’s a pretty poor liar who can’t even fool himself.” And the harder you fall for the deception, the harder it is to admit you’ve been had. Hitler held panzer divisions at Pas de Calais waiting for the real invasion when the Allies had a huge army in Normandy and the the German army there was on its last legs.

    People believe because they want to believe. It was easier and more pleasant to believe that Trump was an agent of Putin and that Russia hacked the election and that Mueller could give us a do-over than to believe that running Hillary was a really bad idea. Because then you have to admit you were wrong. Continuing to believe in the illusion is how you get a second Trump term. On Classic Trek, Captain Pike sort had a good reason for choosing dreams over reality, but the rest of us don’t have the same excuse.

    For maybe the rest of our lives, there will be people clinging to the belief that there’s a Venona intercept somewhere proving the whole thing, but we can’t see it because classified and reasons of state. Or Barr redacted the whole thing and if we could just see the REAL report, it would prove everything.

    1. The Man,

      “To I’ll say that all successful deception is rooted in self deception. To quote a line from Len Deighton (Yesterday’s Spy, I believe ) “It’s a pretty poor liar who can’t even fool himself.””

      I too like Len Deighton’s books, but that’s quite false. I had 30 years in the investment biz, working both investment banking and portfolio management. People lie routinely, and are well aware that they’re lying. Ditto in politics (I’ve worked a lot of campaigns as a fund raiser). But the best example is the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which LBJ used as an excuse for our adventures in Vietnam.

      “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.”

      “People believe because they want to believe.”

      True, but why? We used to be an unruly and skeptical people. What happened to the people in the “Show Me” state?

  7. I don’t doubt or question your experience in the investment business, a field about which I know little. I do think that deception works best when the sucker wants to believe, and the suckers really wanted to believe in this. It was a growth industry on the cable shows, and I’m sure there were people pushing this on the cable news who knew better and were consciously lying. I will call out names. Some of these people may have told themselves they were serving the greater good because Trump, and some them may have been grifters telling the rubes what they wanted to hear for money.

    How did we get to this point? I think tit may have begun because the Kennedy assassination damaged this country in a fundamental way. People couldn’t accept the explanation that was put out about Kennedy’s death. (Whether it was true, or what was actually true is a subject for another time, but for now let’s agree that people couldn’t accept it and leave it there.) And after that, we had a lot of other problems. The Vietnam war, which was divisive and went badly, (And people came to understand that they were being lied to about that.) and the economy began to sour.People decided that they weren’t being told the truth, that there was so much misinformation out there that the truth might not even be knowable. I don’t offer this as an excuse or even a complete explanation, but it always seemed to me that Dallas marked a kind of inflection point.

  8. From experience and knowledge gained during my socio/political/economic upbringing and service in military intelligence, my policy is not to believe anything emanating from the federal government or the mass media until it is corroborated by other reputable sources or a preponderance of mostly reputable sources.

    During my time in military intelligence, I was quite dismayed by the lengths to which the major news outlets would go to aid our federal government’s pursuit of deceiving the American public.

    I would like to offer this perspective on the Gary Powers/U2 Russian incident as gleaned from other members of the “intelligence establishment”; however, I have to state that I cannot substantiate any of it, but it does add up. First -the Russians did not possess missiles at that time which could knock out a U2 flying at its normal flight altitude. Second – The Russians had always been aware of U2 overflights of Russian territory but were unable to do anything about them. Third – Gary Powers’ U2 ran out of fuel. Fourth – After the U2 descended to the altitude within the Russian missile’s effective range, it was then shot down. Fifth – The photos of the downed U2 reveal a plane that crashed with no fuel on board.

    The fifth point is the pertinent one, as all photos I have seen of crashed planes carrying a similar fuel load a U2 has to carry to venture the distance the mission required have not looked so “pristine” as the photos of Powers doomed U2 appear.

    The manner in which “They” obtained that information, I do not know. Just repeating what I heard.

  9. Thanks, Larry. I could not agree more about the prevalance of lying by our media, elected officials, and corporate overlords. I assume they are lying pretty much all the time. I suggest a couple of useful heuristics for dealing with official statements. First, assume the negation of any statement as a hypothesis. Second, where the statement is an accusation of wrong-doing by an offending party, assume the accusation applies to the accuser (invert projection). These two handy rules will enable you to generate truth from lies much of the time.

    On a side note, may I humbly request that you distinguish the Left from the Democratic establishment. When you state that The RussiaGate story rests on statements by government officials – regarded as gospel by the Left. you are smearing many critics on the genuine left who saw through Russiagate from its inception. It’s the establishment media and politicos that regarded implausible claims by deep-state operative as gospel. Why limit your readership? Many on the left are ready for your message. Inside versus outside is a more useful frame than left versus right if we truly seek to rebuild our democracy. Insiders benefit (and are often instigators) when left and right needlessly defame each other.

    1. Stanley,

      “request that you distinguish the Left from the Democratic establishment.”

      I always do so.

      “you are smearing many critics on the genuine left who saw through”

      Only a tiny tiny fraction of readers believe saying “the Left” means “each and every person on the Left.” Look at the major leftist website: most are iron supporters of RussiaGate. I have quoted scores of bien pensant leftists – such as Paul Krugman – who have sworn allegiance to the truth of RussiaGate.

      ” Inside versus outside is a more useful frame than left versus right”

      I totally disagree, and have explained why in scores of posts. Most recently in America’s foes reveal themselves. They are many & strong. Both Left and Right have become fierce enemies of most Americans and the Republic. They no longer even bother to conceal it.

      “Why limit your readership?”

      I’ve been writing since 2003. One iron rule: both Left and Right see only posts criticizing them. Even when I point to posts criticizing the “other”, they prefer to close their eyes and run away.

      “Inside versus outside is a more useful frame”

      Certainly, to most Americans – for whom “it’s not my fault” is the new national motto. There is no “inside” and “outside”, except as a means to avoid responsibility. There are only those working for the Republic, those opposed, and the vast apathetic passive majority. They are the dominant force, because America will be ruled. If its citizens prefer not to shoulder that burden, they others will – and will govern in their interest.

      To put it in simple terms: prey attract predators; being prey is a choice.

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