“You’re talking about government not working, but who’s in charge of the Executive Branch? You go to the Constitution, and the President has sole responsibility for the Executive Branch. This rests on him.
You were talking earlier about kind of dismissing the Benghazi issue as one that’s just political, and the President recently said it’s ‘a sideshow.’ But if you read through all these emails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, ‘Oh, let’s not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al-Qaida. Let’s not tell the public that there were warnings…’ One of the documents with the editing [shows] that one of the people in the State Department said, ‘Oh, let’s not let these things out.’ And I have to go back 40 years to Watergate, when Nixon put out his edited transcripts of the conversations, and he personally went through them and said ‘Let’s not tell this,’ ‘Let’s not show this.’
“I would not dismiss Benghazi. It’s a very serious issue. As people keep saying, four people were killed. You look at the hydraulic pressure that was in the system to not tell the truth, and, you know, we use this term and the government uses this term ‘talking points.’ Talking points, as we know, are like legal briefs. They’re an argument on one side. What we need to do is get rid of talking point, and they need to put out statements or papers that are truth documents. ‘OK, this is all we know.’”
–—Bob Woodward, Watergate legend, on MSNBC, making the case that the altering of the Benghazi “talking points” and subsequent use of misleading statements about the origins of the attack is not, as the President has said, ” a side-show,” but rather a serious and disturbing event worthy of criticism and attention.
One reason I like this quote is that I feel that in the long run the Benghazi talking points scandal—for that’s what it is, a scandal—may be the most significant, if not the most egregious, of the three scandals now rocking the Obama Administration. For the reason this is true, we only have to consult Jay Carney, who incredibly told Piers Morgan yesterday that in referring to the I.R.S. targeting of conservative groups for obstructive treatment, the Justice Department’s intrusion on AP phone records and the false “anti-Muslim video” narrative, the CNN host was “concocting scandals that don’t exist…especially with regard to the Benghazi affair that was contrived by Republicans and, I think, has fallen apart largely this week.”
You see, to Carney, his bosses, and the culture that has been nurtured in the Obama Administration and before, transparency and honesty to the American people is just something you pretend to care about, before you lie, obscure, and hid the truth anyway. In fact, lying to the American people and even Congress is just taken for granted as something those in power do, especially when it involves elections. Because the media is used to being lied to, reporters are jaded and tend to shrug the practice off, and when the lies help politicians they like and agree with, well, it’s all for a good cause.
Jay Carney, at this point a pathetic tool and hack, said in public that the White House only made one “stylistic” change to the C.I.A. talking points, which the released e-mails have proven was a ridiculous lie. Hillary Clinton, before Congress, asserted that all the State Department was passing on to the public was the assessment of the intelligence agencies, which was another lie. The CIA talking points suggested nothing about any video, yet there it was, being given top billing by Obama, Clinton, Carney, and Susan Rice. All of this may have been done to preserve the over-played Obama campaign theme that he had vanquished al Qaeda (indeed, even many liberal columnists state flat out that this was the motive), which is horrifying: an American government in power intentionally obscuring the cause of an attack that killed an ambassador and others..so that it could keep voters in the dark about the real accomplishments, or lack of them, of the man running for re-election. Yet Carney and others, apparently even the President himself, reacts to this by saying, “So? What’s the big deal?”
Today on Capital Hill, Steven Miller, acting head of the I.R.S., was asked in a House hearing why he withheld from the body his knowledge that his agency’s practice of singling out conservative groups for time-consuming scrutiny was under investigation when he testified before the election. Miller refused to answer candidly, essentially saying that he wasn’t asked. Again and again, he was then asked if he believed Congress, and hence the American public, had a right to know that his agency had engaged in such misconduct. All Miller would say is, “I answered the questions truthfully”….”I answered the questions truthfully”….”I answered the questions truthfully.” Translation: No, he doesn’t think the public or Congress has a right to know….not when the truth might make it harder to stay in power. That is what he has been taught in the Obama Administration culture, which has only intensified the already dangerous culture metastasizing throughout the Clinton and Bush years.
The fact that our leaders not only lie to us, but that they think they are right to do so, is a real and terrifying scandal, and Benghazi illustrates it and vividly as anything since Watergate. Bob Woodward, not surprisingly, gets it.
“What we need to do is get rid of talking points, and they need to put out statements or papers that are truth documents. ‘OK, this is all we know.’”
What a revolutionary concept!
39 thoughts on “Ethics Quote of the Week: Bob Woodward”
We need two things to happen first before talking points or bulletized anything goes away:
1) The American people to care more about Justice, Truth, and Accountability in a Republican Democracy before ideology and agenda.
2) The American people to have an attention span long enough to read or listen to more than a quick watered down blurb.
Bob Woodward is Whistling in the Dark. Talking Points = Spin, and Spin is politics, and no politician would have a career if they didn’t spend much of their energy angling every fact to their political advantage or to neutralize the damage.
50 years of presidents and they all spun facts to save their keisters. Some of their lies/spin backfired and most of them worked to their advantage. Pick a president, any president and I can list incidents where many lives were lost through incompetence and lack of follow through, then spin.
Republicans will try to drum beat Benghazi for the next 3 years for their political advantage, disproportionate to the impact on the American voter. Their effort to neutralize Hillary as a candidate for 2016 may be successful.. And Democrats will benefit from those efforts.
The biggest problem with your response is that Obama is the one who stressed TRANSPARENCY and TRUTH-TELLING by bashing previous presidents and administrations. The fact that he turns out to be among the worst lying and self-protecting president in history is what is so unbelievably ugly. The rationalization that “everyone else does it” doesn’t make it right, especially from a person who promised, over and over and over again, that HIS administration would be different. Different, all right — much much worse.
Have no idea how old you are but Obama is not even close to being the most deceitful president. Johnson, Nixon Regan, Bush all told lies that had a significant impact on Americans…. It would be hard to pick the worst, but Obama foibles don’t even approach them.
Oh. I like that. “Foibles.” Brilliant. You mean “small moral weaknesses, slight frailties in character,” as my dictionary informs me? Is this “praising with slight condemnation?”
Item 1 – “they did it too” is one of the most enraging defenses possible. It makes me want to backhand the speaker with a baseball bat.
Item 2 – While yes, politicians lie (it is the single most disgusting job requirement), only Nixon comes close to what Obama has done.
Remember, a big part of why Nixon was impeached was because he tried to use the IRS against his political opponents – Obama (and Clinton, if we’re going to be honest) actually did it. Obama used the IRS to vex, aggravate, and attack those who’s only “crime” is to hold a different opinion as to the proper function of government, and the proper scope of same.
In addition, not a single person you mentioned had a fucking United States Ambassador die from anything besides natural causes. Not only is Carter the only other one in the last 50 years, Obama had SEVERAL ways in which he could have prevented the death. Obama chose to let. him. Die. He did so because to do ANYTHING AT ALL would have put the lie to his ignorant, naive statement of how he’d beaten back and decimated AQ.
It is possible to find individual Presidents that were worse in any one area (except foreign policy – this assclown has managed to make Carter look like a fucking master strategist), it is impossible to find one that combines such astonishing levels of abject incompetence in one single package.
Item 3 – To call Obama’s fuckups “foibles” is like calling World War 2 “a slight foreign policy problem”.
You mean that little spat we had with Germany and Japan?
A minor to-do, really…
Just a small school yard scuffle that messed up our hair and it dirtied our jeans.
What an idiotic and irresponsible comment.
There are degrees, there are consequences. You would have all lies approved and tolerated, which means you would leave the US and its public open to tyranny, because it will get as bad as we let it. If vigilant efforts aren’t made by people of integrity to make officials pay for lies and deception then it will only get worse. Your attitude is despicable in every way, and an abdication of your duty as a citizen.
Why is that your response every time someone points out the degree of the fallacy? Of course a deception is a deception — but it’s hard to ignore that the public outrage against Obama seems ridiculously higher than it was against Bush. That is not deflecting or liberal bias — that is truth. So, fine, let’s investigate Obama — full court investigations + impeachment. The AP scandal alone justifies this in my opinion. But I want some Republicans to stand up and say that conduct by Bush II was just as bad, if not worse. Until that happens, the Republicans can’t play the integrity card and this will remain a politicized issue.
Does the fact an investigation becomes “politicized” (in this case primarily via the constant repetiton of Democratic talking points) render the investigation invalid? And didn’t Richard Nixon and his entire crew pay a pretty heavy price for Watergate?
“Why is that your response every time someone points out the degree of the fallacy? Of course a deception is a deception — but it’s hard to ignore that the public outrage against Obama seems ridiculously higher than it was against Bush.”
Beth, if you keep saying really idiotic things like this, soon I’ll be saying “Fuck you” in spite of myself. Bush was pilloried by the press for Abu Ghraib,for Iraq, for Katrina, and NONE of those (Katrina was a mass smear job) involved infringing on the rights of adversaries and the press. The criticism of his every move was far beyond anything Obama has seen until this past week, when Obama richly earned it. Clinton and Bush have been subjected to far less criticism than Obama, despite his being more inept than either. And you know why.
I’m telling you, man… Just making it your default setting is a massive time-saver…
And here’s where we differ Jack. Was the media response to the Iraq lie overblown? I don’t know — only tens of thousands died and it added biliions to the debt. And it was a lie, you can’t argue consequentialism here because we all know what the probable results of a war will be. And Abu Graib — I assume you remember the torture memo? I put this in the same camp as the AP scrutiny — perhaps “technically” legal, but still pretty damn unsettling in light of long held constitutional principles. (And, of course, Obama continued some of these equally foul practices so I’m not giving him a pass.) Are you are placing “rights of adversaries and the press” above human life? If so, I get your reasoning — I just think that all of these things deserve outrage, and if I had to rank, I guess I’d place human life first. And I wonder — and no one knows the answer — would there even have been a Benghazi if we hadn’t launched a 10 year war in Iraq under false pretenses? Maybe, maybe not. As for Katrina — can we not liken that to the IRS issue? An incompetent office that the President has technical administration over, but perhaps he doesn’t know the daily workings? Perhaps it’s too soon to tell given that the IRS scandal is just unfolding, but this may be the case. And not that you were required to provide a comprehensive list, but what about Valerie Plame? To me, this is the most relevant comparison to Benghazi — assuming of course that Benghazi was a blatant lie (I haven’t had time to review all the tapes and emails). But here’s the main difference — was the media harsh to the Bush administration re Valerie? Of course and deservedly so. But how many Republicans openly criticized what Bush did? Liberals (me included) are chastising Obama — and if you examine in more detail, we’ve been chastising him for years. Personally, I think he should be impeached for AP alone (assuming he knew — and Holder has to go regardless) — but I don’t remember the same Republican outrage against Bush. Please correct me if I’m wrong — I would love to be wrong here. Unless both parties start owning up to these blatant abuses of power, the next administration (Republican or Democrat) will continue down the path of making us a police state. This is the kind of crap that makes me think that the Tea Party might be the voice of reason afterall.
I’m sorry Beth…I’ll finish this weird comment when I have more patience. I appreciate your grit and passion, but this is ridiculous:
“Was the media response to the Iraq lie overblown? I don’t know — only tens of thousands died and it added biliions to the debt. And it was a lie”
No, Beth, it wasn’t a lie. No serious analyst or historian believes it was a lie. It was mistake, it was bad intelligence, it was an over-hyped factor in what Bush and his appointees wanted to do anyway (and there were good and legal reasons to do it, too) but there is no question that the Bush Administration believed there were WMD’s in Iraq. So did all the Senators who voted to go in, such as Hillary and John Kerry, and they saw the same intelligence that Bush did.The fact that the post occupation part of the war was botched, the fact that the plan was sloppily executed…this has nothing to do with the decision to go in. Saddam admitted after he was captured that he was trying to finesse the WMD’s and make his enemies think he still had them, after he had gotten rid of them.
Nonetheless, when the tipping point for war is based on an error, the decision makers deserve criticism, and Bush got it, and is getting it to this day. And it has nothing to do with the Obama scandals, one way or the other.
Which of the nearly two dozen items on the Auth for Mil Force was a lie?
Please, be specific.
I dare you.
You will lose this fight, bitch. I’m about fed up with people who even come CLOSE to the “Bush lied, people died” line, and so you get to enjoy my tender affections until I’m convinced you are not, in fact, fucking retarded.
Gee, you are in a feisty mood these days. One more scandal, and I imagine you’ll be running on all fours and biting children.
The “Bush lied” smear as well as the myth that Al Gore’s election was stolen are only a notch or two better than birtherism, but the news media have done their level best to give legitimacy to both so Democrats had two serviceable bloody clubs. Then they added another by turning the city/state/ national inability to handle the unprecedented disaster that was Katrina into a Bush conspiracy against blacks, when a better description would be “an incompetent and corrupt black mayor’s successful effort to blame others for the blood on his hands.” That’s three undeserved Bush slanders, pushed by a partisan media to support Democratic objectives; Obama has endured nothing remotely similar in duration, scope, dishonesty and injustice.
I think my misanthropy is getting the better of me.
I fear for my neighborhood’s children…
Okay. I give in Jack. We don’t agree on the facts let alone appropriate comparisons, so there is no point in debating the larger question of consequences.
Things would be easier if you dealt with facts…
Supposition, belief, and opinion are shitty tools to use when you debate any topic, but I am hardly shocked that you would only bring those three things to a fight.
Progressive-ism has never fared well when forced to confine itself to things that are actually true.
Wait a minute. You don’t have a right to invent facts. I gave you the facts, as we know them. Nobody has ever asserted with credibility any proof that the Bush Administration did not expect to find WMD’s. If you are using the incorrect definition of lie that anything anyone says that turns out to be untrue is a lie, whether they intended to deceive or not, DON’T. That is a dishonest rhetorical device, and dumb to boot. It’s banned here.
Here’s one of many examples — but you might dismiss it given the source.
There also were all of the statements made about links to Al Qeada/9-11. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50679-2004Jun17.html
I think they were lies, at best they were extremely misleading.
As for the “bad intelligence” defense, even if that is what happened — and I don’t think it was — that doesn’t give Bush a pass. If Obama is to be held accountable for improper actions done by the IRS and DOJ, then Bush should be held accountable for faulty intelligence gathered by the CIA and/or State Department. It was his obligation to verify that the assertions were credible before leading his country into war. Just like it ultimately was Obama’s obligation to make sure that his agencies were operating in an ethical manner.
And my favorite scandal from that administration — http://www.nbcnews.com/id/33556198/ns/politics-more_politics/t/cheney-told-fbi-no-idea-who-leaked-plame-id/
Your favorite scandal was the dumbest non-scandal ever, as that right wing rag, the Washington Post pointed out again just this week. Of course Bush is accountable for the bad intelligence. But you seem not to comprehend the difference between mistakes and misconduct. The WMDs were a mistake. The three scandals are all misconduct.
And I would point out that it was “bad intelligence” that not only Clinton (B and H), Pelosi, Reid, and every other major Democrat believed, but so did every other foreign intelligence agency we talk to – MI5, Mossad, the French, everyone.
Everyone thought Iraq had WMDs, and partly because Saddam actively encouraged the notion.
And not only that, but there were a) WMD finds in Iraq over the years, and there were massive convoy shipments of SOMETHING to Syria right before the invasion took place. Only an idiot thinks there is no chance Saddam was moving his stockpile in order to wait out America – we’d left after 100 days last time, why would this time be any different?
AND ANYWAYS, you feckless cretin, you are talking about one item on a list of almost two dozen for the war.
Your fixation on the issue is astonishing.
No, that’s a lie. It really isn’t surprising in any way.
You mean where an AUSA used the biggest bullshit law, found a couple of minor (and I mean, not remembering what exact DAY something happened) inconsistant statements, and then brough a guy up on charges that were stupid because we already knew who leaked Plame’s ID?
And frankly, when you tell people at parties your work at the CIA, I actively don’t care if someone from State tells a reporter – you outted yourself a long time ago.
Typical Republican Hyperventilation.. This ‘tyranny’ is an illusion. Becuase lies in politics have existed as long as we have been a country… The only one to seriously attempt to abrogate the Democratic process was Nixon… Even Goldwater told him to pack it in.
Remember FDR’s lies to the public in 1939 and 1940? Violated the neutrality act and put us in harm’s way.. Was that Tyranny or was that Leadership?
The problem with your paradigm is that there aren’t enough voters left to sway the election for issues such as Benghazi.
That’s your problem Jack: You’re in the wrong pardigm. Good to know, huh?
Oh, spitooey. Don’t insult FDR’s nation-saving act of defiance by moving it into the same category as Obama’s sad deceptions and Kennedy’s double life. He risked impeachment for the good of the nation and the world, not to hold on to his own petty sinecure. “Even” Goldwater? Goldwater was an honest and principled man, unlike Kennedy, Nixon, Clinton, and apparently Obama. Foolish shruggers like you will just let standards continue to deteriorate, because you like the liars as long as they benefit your oxen. Yup, you’re the major reason ist so hard getting democracy to work, all right—and why we are at risk of losing it.
Tyranny is when the IRS uses its power to stop citizen’s groups opposed to its masters from organizing and participating in democracy. It’s only tyranny to you when you’re on the losing end…ethical bankruptcy personified.
And I defy you to find any partisan elements in this post or the previous ones (and I am NOT a Republican). Bob Woodward is also not a Republican. he believes in the truth, honorable leaders, and trust, as did the Founders. Your attitude is just poisonous, as well as irresponsible.
I’d ad an addendum to Woodward’s suggestion: Also prohibit professional political consultants from appearing on TV talk shows and spouting dueling talking points issued earlier in the day by their masters. Make the reporters and talking heads do some reporting and critical thinking. The TV show people are just lazy. They think letting two liars go on about their respective side’s baloney is unbiased journalism. Pathetic really.
No, Bob is entirely wrong, because he compares Obama to Nixon, and Carney told us all we should check our history…
Case closed, man. Good day,sir…
I SAID GOOD DAY SIR!
Jack needs a “like” button for comments. This is awesome and so true.
Just reply with a “huzzah” or “brava”
I was referring to “Other Bill.” Super like.
Jack, you have set up an impossible standard for reasonable discourse here. I said that I didn’t want to debate facts because we obviously disagreed. Your reply was that I didn’t get to invent facts. So, okay, I post a link to an article discussing that Bush was given CIA intel that there were no WMDs in Iraq, but that the info never made it to the public or Congress. I thought your reply was going to be to discount the article entirely because of media bias. But you didn’t go there. Instead, your reply is that there are differences between “mistakes and misconduct.” What? If Bush had intel that there were no WMDs and decided not to share it because it wasn’t compatible with his agenda, that’s blatant misconduct; i.e., it is the same thing that you are complaining about Obama re Benghazi. And this is not my partisan analysis — I can’t be partisan if I think both Obama and Bush are liars.
And lets take a good look at your “smoking gun” here.
First, it is from Salon… I could have SWORN that you said something about a lack of bias in the sources YOU use… Needless to say, Salon’s reporting of that report is, shall we say, not entirely accurate…
Ignoring the fact that the list of Dems who actively believed Saddam had WMDs is long and impressive, I will say it again – Every major power (including Hans-fucking-Blix) thought Saddam had WMDs. Every. Single. One.
Your claim simply doesn’t stand up to tiny things like logic, and yet you persist…
And you wonder why I have nothing but contempt for you…
“Supposition, belief, and opinion are shitty tools to use when you debate any topic, but I am hardly shocked that you would only bring those three things to a fight.”
It’s only a matter of time until she posts, “but…but…but…well…well…well…if you think that is bad, what about Bush reading My Pet Goat” after learning about 9/11?”
If she hasn’t already posted that.