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December 04, 2007

I.F. Stone Right Again

Dick Cheney in October:

We have the inescapable reality of Iran's nuclear program; a program they claim is strictly for energy purposes, but which they have worked hard to conceal; a program carried out in complete defiance of the international community and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Iran is pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. The world knows this. The Security Council has twice imposed sanctions on Iran and called on the regime to cease enriching uranium. Yet the regime continues to do so, and continues to practice delay and deception in an obvious attempt to buy time.

Matthew Yglesias, today:

[T]he striking thing about this is the extent to which looking back at Cheney's statement he's tried very carefully to avoid directly contradicting the NIE while crafting phrases that are clearly designed to cause the listener to draw the precise wrong conclusion.

It's not as if Cheney read the NIE and decided he had some reason to believe it was incorrect. Rather, he read it, decided he'd better not contradict it, but also decided that bottom line conclusions about how Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program were inconvenient, and thus decided to talk around that minor point and try to get the American people confused about what's happening. Stunningly cynical and yes I'm resolving once again to never be stunned.

I.F. Stone, forty years ago:

Now, governments lie. But they don't like to lie literally, because a literal, flat, obvious lie tends to be caught.

So what they do is, they become masters of the disingenuous statement, of phrasing something in such a way that the honest, normal, unwary reader gets one impression, what he's supposed to get.

Then three months later he discovers it's not true and goes back to complain. And they say, well, that's not what we said -- look at it carefully. And you look at it carefully and sure enough, it was really doubletalk and didn't say exactly what they said.

Posted at December 4, 2007 12:44 PM

I.F. Stone is such a cool guy that every time you use him, the quality points go up because someone keeps him alive by checking him out. I.F. who?

I read The Trial of Socrates one summer and had a strong need to find more I.F. Stone sh*t just to verify the size of his brass b*lls. Before reading the I.F. Stone version of Socrates, I believed most of the conventional pap.

Posted by: Ted at December 4, 2007 01:27 PM

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --- William Casey, CIA Director (Quote from internal staff meeting notes 1981)

Posted by: Don Bacon at December 4, 2007 04:26 PM

Don Bacon -

HOLY SHIT tell me you made that up!

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at December 4, 2007 04:46 PM


Thanks for the lead on I.F. Stone on Socrates.

To my mind, Stone's analysis of the trial and execution of Socrates has the ring of truth. It has always been puzzling why Socrates, so sympathetically portrayed in the dialogues of Plato, would have been found to have been such a deadly danger to the Athenian democracy that he merited execution. Friedrich Nietzsche treats the topic at some length in one of his works as I recall, focusing on the charge that Socrates was a corruptor of youth. I found Stone's take on things to be what one might expect from a great journalist - thorough, penetrating, and with an keen eye for the unspoken thing wherein the over-arching significance can be found. It is also illuminating to put Stone's interpretation of the political circumstances surrounding the adjudication of Socrates' guilt alongside the admiration expressed for Plato by the neo-cons' philosopher of choice, Leo Strauss. Anyway, here's the link to his "short-form" exposition of
his ideas.

Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian at December 4, 2007 07:17 PM

Link please, for the Casey quote. Myself, I'm thinking of having t-shirts made.

Posted by: SteveB at December 5, 2007 11:58 AM