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08/11/2003 Archived Entry: "The Control of Words"

As though in the belief that syllables define reality, the Bush Administration and its attendant agencies are playing word games...and playing dirty.

Sometimes they use Clintonesque tactics with language, reminiscent of "It depends what 'is' means." For example, the Pentagon's denial that napalm was used in Iraq. It seems that "napalm" is a brand name, like Kleenex, and the US military is not using that particular brand of fuel-gel mixture in its bombs but another fuel-gel mixture that does the same thing. In the light of confirmation of use by marine pilots and their commanders, the Pentagon has reversed its non-denial denial.

Sometimes they silence "unacceptable" words. An earlier blog described how the Bush administration is silencing soldiers in Iraq who describe the actual conditions under which they are living and dying. (This is a rather difficult task given that the soldiers -- unlike those in any war -- have widespread access to the Internet.) Now this item from the Toronto Star: "Americans pay price for speaking out. Dissenters face job loss, arrest, threats."

When it is not possible to smooth the situation by making non-denial denials or by silencing dissent, the powers-that-be punish those who speak out as examples to the rest of us. Consider the case of Joseph Wilson, a State Department veteran who was was sent to Niger to check out the validity of the infamous uranium documents. Over a year ago, he reported that the evidence was not credible. When the scandal surrounding the faux documents eruptedsome weeks back, Wilson went public in the The New York Times and Washington Post and, so, stripped the Administration of the excuse that it didn't know the documents were forged at the time of Bush's State of the Union address which included reference to them. Now, in what appears to be a revenge move, "senior administration officials" have leaked the "fact" that Wilson's wife was an undercover operative for the CIA to the media -- specifically to Bob Novak Novak whose July 14, 2003, column included the sentences: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the allegation." Journalist David Corn has pointed out that if she was an operative, then it would treason on the part of the White House to disclose the fact. The relevant statute states: "Sec. 421. - Protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources (a) Disclosure of information by persons having or having had access to classified information that identifies covert agent Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both." This morning, for the first time, I heard coverage of this scandal on CNN -- (finally! I was despairing that major coverage would ever occur) -- so it is not clear whether this act of potentially indictable "treason" by the White House can be hushed up.

Sam continues to recover but I am furious with him. He took the opportunity of a momentary lapse of attention on my part to slip away and go romping in the forest for over two hours. I was literally sick with worry until he returned...quite pleased with himself, I might add. The staples and the wound that run along over 1/2 of his body seem to have held up well and -- other than Sam sleeping deeply, the sleep of one without a conscience -- there seems to have been no repercusion. Except, of course, for making me crazed and hoarse from shouting his name over and over and over again.

Best to all, except reprobate German Shepherds,

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