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Playing the Word Game
August 9, 2003
By Sheila Samples

If it's true that words come back to haunt you, it must also be true -- like the late, great "Comical Ari" Fleischer once warned -- folks need to "watch what they say..."

The entire political apparatus is jones'n out on Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech, or at least the 16 words where he said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant qualities of uranium from Africa." They're shocked -- shocked -- to discover that here, six months, 251 dead American soldiers and counting, and over 6,000 dead Iraqi civilians later, their president may have -- just may have -- unintentionally created this chaos by telling a...well, he may have embossed the tru...or maybe he just mis-spoke because he was misled...yeah, that's it -- Bush mis-spoke -- and besides, even if it was, well you know, that other thing -- it was only a tiny white one...

Lie. The word is Lie. And, considering the devastation loosed upon the world by a litany of even more irresponsible, unsubstantiated lies over the past two years, it's a bit late for those who have known the truth all along to feign outrage, don't you think? The 296 Congressmen and 77 Senators who -- out of fear of political blowback -- voted to make assassination and mass murder the foreign policy of this great nation -- are liars. Every last one of them. It's called aiding and abetting with malice and forethought. And no amount of crawdadding and gandy-dancing in the policital arena as we head into Campaign 2004 is going to change that fact.

Because they lied. They lied in spite of being unable to look the American people in the eye -- in spite of the millions and millions of individuals walking shoulder-to-shoulder across the international landscape crying out to them for truth, restraint and sanity -- in spite of knowing beforehand that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with either 9-11or Bush's war on terror. Spiteful lies, far easier for them to tell because neither their blood nor that of their sons and daughters would stain the desert sand.

So, if the American people have been paying attention, these distinguished members of Congress can forget political blowback -- they should cringe and quiver with fear of political blowOUT, because at last count there are at least 6,087 reasons why they should not be re-elected.

The 16 words that appear to be haunting the administration are mostly irrelevant, and far less damaging than the incendiary rhetoric that ultimately double-timed us into war. Everybody within the US/British intelligence community seems to have known that the Niger uranium charge was baseless, and many said so at the time. Now, it seems that everybody but the janitor at the White House has elbowed his or her way to the front of the pack to "take full responsibility" for inserting them into the state of the union speech in a transparent effort to close Nigergate. Padlock it. Throw the key away.

Somebody's lying. And when the lemming media start pawing feverishly around on the corner at the end of the block because the light there is better, it's a signal for those of us who can still think to grab a flashlight and check out the ominous snarls and moans coming from the secret, undisclosed darkness of the alley.

Within hours of the attack on 9-11, and with their eyes on the prize, members of the Bush administration, led by Vice President Dick Cheney and the guys in the hood over at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) fanned out to unchallenged positions in bully pulpits of the complicit US corporate media. Their relentless gabbling mantra never deviated -- Saddam Hussein was a cold-blooded killer, responsible for 9-11...he was coming after us with deadly weapons of mass destruction...he will inflict catastrophic harm on American soil with his nuclear weapons...we will be struck with massive and sudden chemical and biological horror...

By September 2002, the White House issued a global message (still available here) which announced these dire warnings:

The danger is grave and growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons and is rebuilding facilities to make more. It could launch a biological or chemical attack 45 minutes after the order is given. The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb -- and, with fissile material, could build one within a year.

Iraq's regime has longstanding and continuing ties to terrorist groups -- there are al-Qaida terrorists inside Iraq. The regime also practices the rape of women and the torture of dissenters and their children as methods of intimidation.

Never mind that little, if any, of this was true. Never mind that, as recently as two weeks ago, Cheney was still out on the hustings, telling the American Enterprise Institute that we ain't seen nothing yet. Cheney is surrounded by enemies who all want to kill him with the most destructive weapons they can obtain. "This enemy holds no territory, defends no population, is unconstrained by rules of warfare, and respects no law of morality," he said. "Such an enemy cannot be deterred, contained, appeased, or negotiated with. It can only be destroyed, and --" he said darkly, "that's the business at hand..."

So, forget those 16 words, or at least put them into perspective. It's all a matter of rhetoric anyway. As George Orwell said when describing 1984's Newspeak, "...what was required, above all for political purposes, was short, clipped words of unmistakable meaning which could be uttered rapidly and which roused the minimum of echoes in the speaker's mind." The intent of such rhetoric, Orwell said, was to make speech on any subject that was not ideologically neutral as nearly as possible independent of consciousness...

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice won the duckspeak prize which, according to Orwell was speech that -- although articulate -- issued from the larynx without involving the higher brain centers at all. There was no mistaking the short-clipped meaning of Rice's "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" rhetoric. The world trembled, remained silent as their freedoms were curtailed "for security reasons," and anxiously watched the skies...

By the time President Bush, the resident doubleplusfeelgood duckspeaker, took center stage for his memorable State of the Union speech, the prole "target" had been softened. Who remembered that Iraq had not killed a single American in 12 years? Who even knew that the US had never stopped bombing the no-fly zones, had crippled the Iraqi infrastructure, or that according to UN studies, more than a million Iraqi citizens had been killed by devastating US-led sanctions? Who cared?

As Bush promised to create chaos throughout the region, kill many more thousands of innocents, create masses of refugees and send our own troops into a blazing, shooting-gallery inferno with no exit strategy, his dire warnings of horror were interrupted only by cheers, applause and standing ovations. Is it any wonder that 16 little Yellowcake words slipped by us?

Consider these 41 words, "Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this coutry to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known..."

Or these 21 words -- "The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax."

How about these 24 words -- "Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."

This is Bush doing what he does best. Telling a lie -- such as linking Hussein to both 9-11 and al-Qaeda and stirring the mix with stacks and piles and tons of deadly weapons of mass destruction -- and wrapping the whole thing in wild speculation specifically designed to stimulate fear and generate rabid support for a war already decided upon. Orwell calls this prolefeed, which is spurious news fed to the masses to create a desired bellyfeel, or blind, enthusiastic acceptance.

And it worked. Talk about gassing your own people until their minds shrivel up in fear or keel over in exhaustion! Never in the history of this country has such a deliberate and elaborate campaign of deceit and betrayal been waged against its Congress and its citizens. I believe -- I have to believe -- that more Americans each day are coming to the painful conclusion that, if his lips are moving, their president is lying. I have to believe that most Americans are watching what George Bush is saying, and are weary of his words coming back to haunt them.

Because, how long can the national psyche remain under the wild influences of George Bush's fantastic messianic delusions and not come apart at the seams? Enough is enough. No more lies. No more intrusions on our freedoms -- our privacy. No more Orwellian Newspeak.

Like Johnny Dangerously's Roman Moronie once said, "You lousy cork-suckers. You have violated my fargin' rights. This suminonbatching country was founded so that the liberties of common patriotic citizens, like me, could not be taken away by a bunch of fargin' iceholes, like yourselves..."

That's 37 words of Oldspeak, if we're still playing the word-count game. And every fargin' word is true.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer, a former US Army Public Information Officer and contributing editor of

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