Wednesday, June 09, 2004

not so nutty conspiracy theory after all

For the good of the country?

Tampabay: TIA now verifies flight of Saudis

"For nearly three years, White House, aviation and law enforcement officials have insisted the flight never took place and have denied published reports and widespread Internet speculation about its purpose.

But now, at the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, TIA officials have confirmed that the flight did take place and have supplied details."

So the WH is once again caught in a lie. The word lie has been stepped lightly around in the media, and in my opinion for mostly good reasons. Partisans on both sides have used it far too freely to blast enemies for statements that involved opinions, interpretations of non-established facts, or perceptions that changed over time.

But this one's pretty clear. The flights took place, the WH and others were asked about it, and they stated point blank untruths.

And for what reason? We expect that our leaders may not publicize sensitive facts for national security or diplomacy reasons. But those reasons have to stand the tests of time and subsequent public scrutiny. Josh Marshall, yesterday writing about the torture memo, talked about the history in our country of our leaders taking action out of the necessity of the moment that could be considered unconstitutional. The kicker is that, always, when the crisis blew over, the public has the right to judge the action and determine then whether it was for the good of the country or not.

So how will we judge this public lie? Not only does time reveal that these flights in no way heightened our national security, it lays bare the essential motive of the lie itself--not of national preservation but of self-preservation. And not only is the lie selfish in hindsight, it had to have been at the moment as well.

Remember, all but one of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. And our government knew it at the time of these flights. But on the very day of those flights, but signed the proclamation for National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, which contained the following pledge:

"Civilized people around the world denounce the evildoers who devised and executed these terrible attacks. Justice demands that those who helped or harbored the terrorists be punished -- and punished severely. The enormity of their evil demands it. We will use all the resources of the United States and our cooperating friends and allies to pursue those responsible for this evil, until justice is done."

So when you see replays of Bush's "Ground Zero" speech on September 14, realize that only the day before he had subverted the very justice he claimed to demand.