Wiki-Leaks and plausible lies – Where have all the critical thinkers gone?
While the revelations in the Wiki-leaks documents about the true nature of the US government and its imperial attitude towards other nations are welcome, I find myself in the strange position of having to agree with Hillary Clinton, David Cameron et al that the leaks won’t affect anyone’s relations with anyone.
Our leaders are an inherently hypocritical bunch and over the past 10 years, even the most uninformed have come to understand that our leaders have a definite tendency to say one thing and do another. Who doubts that such hardened politicians fully understand that lying to each other is par for the course in the sordid game of modern global governance? As such, why should the public be overly surprised to see confirmation of this in the Wiki-leaks documents? Entertained and even intrigued, but surprised?
I am not saying that there is no value in certain aspects of the documents themselves to the extent that they provide a chance to disseminate government corruption and mendacity to a wide audience, but titillating details such as Gadaffi’s buxom ‘nurse’ is nothing new and, much more importantly, such details are by no means the main focus of the documents themselves.
Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran…
The Wiki-leaks documents need to be considered in a broader context. By all means, alternative news sites should continue to expose American, British and any another government inequity that the documents reveal. But where is the criticism of the rest of the documents that confirm the standard Israeli/American narrative – that Iran poses ‘an existentialist threat’ to Israel and to ‘moderate’ Arab states?
Does anyone care that these documents clearly support US and Israeli war-mongering? Does anyone else find that to be astonishing? Where is the critical thought?
The problem is that, when the dust has settled (as it soon will) over all-too-familiar US government attempts to spy on UN officials and the pusillanimity of the British government assuring the Americans that their Iraq invasion inquiry would have a pro-US bias, we will be left with some core details which, far from being refuted or covered up, are being accepted as fact. Details such as:
Iran is the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East. This is a blatant lie as every alternative, anti-war analyst who has studied the facts has declared vociferously for years now. And suddenly, with a widely publicized leak, the mainstream media wants to try and shove it down our throats again? Because it is a “leak” and Assange is being “hunted down” like Osama bin Under-the-bed? What kind of truth has ever gotten this kind of press in all the years since the Fascist take-over by the unelected G.W. Bush?
Iran received missile technology from North Korea that may enable it to attack Europe in a few years. That’s pure propaganda, and every one of you alt news analysts and commentators know that. Iran is making its own missiles and, in any case, Iran is entitled to defend itself. You’ve all been saying that for years, based on hard data and researched facts. All of a sudden, a leak appears and the mainstream media wants to convince us otherwise? And you compare it to Watergate? Did you read Fletcher Prouty’s expose on Watergate, how many of the documents were created and planted to be leaked because they served the agenda of the PTB?
Middle Eastern leaders want the US and Israel to attack Iran. How can this not been seen as further US and Israeli propaganda? And what Middle Eastern country in its right mind would want that considering that the entire area will be unfit for human habitation for years afterward?
Tehran used Red Cross ambulances to smuggle arms to Hizb’allah during its war against Israel in 2006 . Even if true, Iran is entitled to help the Lebanese defend themselves against Israeli aggression just like UK helped the U.S. attack Iraq and Afghanistan. Haven’t all of you people been saying this for years now?
Iran harbors ‘al Qaeda’. Why would this be seen as anything other than more of the tired old US ‘al-qaeda’ imaginings designed to scare the masses, at home and abroad?
Iran could produce an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States by 2015. And Saddam could ‘hit the UK in 45 minutes’, remember?
Pakistan continues to support the ‘Mumbai terror attack group’. Why no details of David Headley, the CIA agent who planned the Mumbai attacks and who, according to the CIA, ‘went rogue’? Again, yeah, right!
And let’s not forget previous Wiki-leaks ‘dumps’ of data, which included nuggets of US and Israeli government nonsense like Iraq really did have WMDs! And there you were thinking that the WMD business was a total lie! Well, guess again, thanks to some of the Wiki-leaks documents, we now know that the US was totally justified in invading Iraq and killing 1.5 million innocent civilians. And if that isn’t enough for ya, then just remember…9/11! Bin Laden (who is alive and well according to previous Wiki-leaks documents) killed about 3,000 Americans that day, which leaves the US and Iraq just about even (500 Iraqi lives being equal to one American life). And don’t go spouting any spurious conspiracy theories, because Mr Assange is annoyed that such ‘false conspiracies” [like 9/11] distract so many people (like you).
As Phyillis Bennis wrote recently on the Huffington Post:
“If you watched only Fox News or some of the outraged-but-gleeful mainstream pundits, you would believe that the documents prove the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program and world-wide support for a military attack on Iran. If you read only the Israeli press, you would think the documents provide irrefutable proof that “the entire world is panicked over the Iranian nuclear program.”
Phyillis is correct, but here’s the problem: a vast number of people do watch only Fox News or one of its affiliates, and what gets said in the Israeli press is very often received with a sympathetic ear across the US media.
So why is no one contesting these very dubious and much more serious claims? These are claims that could be used to justify an attack on Iran and the murder of millions of Iranian civilians?
Yes, the US government is full of two-faced creeps who spy on friend and foe alike, and if the Wiki-leaks documents help to imprint that on the global awareness, then so much the better. But what will it change in the long run? And more importantly, at what price will come the wholesale acceptance of these documents? If, by simply referring to the precise details and the dominant discourse of the documents, I conclude that some aspects serve the goals of peace and public truth but many others serve the goals of the war-mongers in Tel Aviv and Washington, does that mean I hate Whistle-blowers and want to protect the US government? This whole thing is like the well-known ploy of the psychopath to engage the sympathy of their victim by admitting to flaws and failings – even a few seemingly painful admissions – putting the target to sleep thinking they now have the whole confession, all the while they are being set up for a really big con.
Our world is run by people who lie for a living, so let’s examine the situation microcosmically and then all you have to do is extract the principle and apply it on a larger scale.
“Our culture agrees on the signs of lying. Ask anyone how to tell if someone is lying and they will tell you that they can tell by “lack of eye contact, nervous shifting, or picking at one’s clothes.” Psychologist Anna Salter writes with dry humor: “This perception is so widespread I have had the fantasy that, immediately upon birth, nurses must take newborns and whisper in their ears, “Eye contact. It’s a sign of truthfulness.” [Anna C. Salter, Ph.D.]
The problem is, if there is a psychopath – or those with related characteropathies – who doesn’t know how to keep good eye contact when lying, they haven’t been born. Eye contact is “universally known” to be a sign of truth-telling. The problem is liars will fake anything that it is possible to fake, so in reality, eye contact is absolutely NOT a sign of truth telling.
Anna Salter writes:
The man in front of me is a Southern good-ole-boy, the kind of man I grew up with and like. If anything, I have a weakness for the kind of Southern male who can “Sam Ervin” you, the Southern lawyer who wears red suspenders in court along with twenty-five-year-old cowboy boots and who turns his accent up a notch when he sees the northern expert witness coming. A “northern city slicker” on the witness stand will elicit the same kind of focused interest that a deer will in hunting season. You can have some very long days in court with men who wear red suspenders and start by telling you how smart you are and how simple and dumb they are.
I survey the man in front of me. I am not in court; I am in prison, and he is not an attorney but a sex offender, and he has bright eyes along with that slow, sweet drawl. He is a big man, slightly balding, and he has – I have to admit there is such a thing – an innocent face. …
My Southern good-ole-boy certainly knows eye contact is considered a sign of truthfulness. He describes his manner in getting away with close to 100 rapes of adults and children. He tells me:
The manner that I use when I was trying to convince somebody – even though I knew I was lying – I’d look them in the eye, but I wouldn’t stare at them. Staring makes people uncomfortable and that tends to turn them away, so I wouldn’t stare at them. But look at them in a manner that, you know, “look at this innocent face. How can you believe that I would do something like that?” It helps if you have a good command of the vocabulary where you can explain yourself in a way that is easily understood. Dress nice. Use fluent hand gestures that are not attacking in any way.
It’s a whole combination of things. It’s not any one thing that you can do. It’s a whole combination of things that your body gestures and things that say “Look, I’m telling you the truth, and I don’t know what these people are trying to pull. I don’t know what they’re trying to prove, but I haven’t done any of this. I don’t know why they’re doing this. You can check my records. I’ve got a good record. I’ve never been in any trouble like this. And I don’t know what’s going on. I’m confused.”…
As if reading my thoughts, he breaks off: “You don’t get this, Anna, do you?” he says. “You think that when I’m asked, “Did I do it? that’s when I lie. But I’ve been lying every day for the last twenty-five years.”
The practiced liar: a category of liar that even experts find it difficult to detect.
Problem is, even when dealing with people who are not practiced liars, such as college students who have volunteered for a research study of lying, most observers are not as good as they think in detecting deception. The research shows consistently that most people – even most professional groups such as police and psychologists – have no better than a chance ability to detect deception. Flipping a coin would serve as well.
“If you want to deny something, make sure you’ve got an element of truth in it. It sounds like it’s true, and there are elements of it that are very true that can be checked out, and try to balance it so that it has more truth than lie, so that when it is checked out, even if the lie part does come out, there’s more truth there than lie.”
This man was good enough that once he got away with stomping out of court in a huff. He was accused by his sister of raping her and molesting her daughter on the same day. He played it as a preposterous charge. His sister, he told the court, had once accused his uncle of abuse. She was well known in the family for making up crazy charges like this. He said he wasn’t going to put up with such nonsense and walked out. No one stopped him, and no one ever called him back. The charge just disappeared somehow. He now admits that both charges were true.
It is ‘likeability’ and charm that he wields as weapons.
The double life is a powerful tactic. There is the pattern of socially responsible behavior in public that causes people to drop their guard, and to turn a deaf ear to disclosures. The ability to charm, to be likable, to radiate sincerity and truthfulness, is crucial to the successful liar – and they practice assiduously.
“Niceness is a decision,” writes Gavin De Becker in The Gift of Fear. It is a “strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait.”
Despite the decades of research that have demonstrated that people cannot reliably tell whose lying and who isn’t, most people believe they can. There is something so fundamentally threatening about the notion that we cannot really know whether or not to trust someone that it is very difficult to get anyone – clinicians, citizens, even police – to take such results seriously.
Assange on Netanyahu
In a recent Time Magazine interview, Julian Assange stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is not a naive man” but rather a “sophisticated politician”. That’s Assange’s assessment of a man who is clearly a psychopath. In the same interview Assange said:
“We can see the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu coming out with a very interesting statement that leaders should speak in public like they do in private whenever they can. He believes that the result of this publication, which makes the sentiments of many privately held beliefs public, are promising a pretty good [indecipherable] will lead to some kind of increase in the peace process in the Middle East and particularly in relation to Iran.”
Apart from the fact that he appears to be praising a pathological war criminal, Assange displays an amazing level of naivete. Netanyahu’s comment about Middle Eastern leaders making their private opinions public was in reference to the leaked allegation that the Saudi, Jordanian and Emirati governments were privately in favor of “cutting the head of the Iranian snake”, something that Netanyahu has been cheer-leading for several years. Despite this, Assange believes that this will lead to “some kind of increase in the peace process in relation to Iran”.
But not everyone is fooled. On Wednesday, a senior Turkish official blamed Israel for the Wiki-leaks release. Addressing reporters, Huseyin Celik, deputy leader of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party, hinted that Israel engineered the leak of hundreds of thousands of United States diplomatic cables as a plot to pressure the Turkish government.
“One has to look at which countries are pleased with these,” Celik was quoted as saying. “Israel is very pleased. Israel has been making statements for days, even before the release of these documents.”
“Documents were released and they immediately said, ‘Israel will not suffer from this.’ How did they know that?” Celik asked.
He doesn’t even realize that probably many of these documents were created FOR leaking! Again, the reader is referred to Fletcher Prouty’s book The Secret Team.
Critical Vs ‘Black and White’ Thinking
The Wiki-leaks documents that provide evidence for what is already understood should be accepted, the documents that echo what we already know to be US and Israeli propaganda should be understood as just that – US and Israeli propaganda. Is that so hard?
Why are many alternative news writers who railed against similar lies and disinformation when it came from US and Israeli ‘Intel reports’ now accepting, or ignoring, the same propaganda simply because it comes via Wiki-leaks? Do the Wiki-leaks documents have to be all good or are all bad? Is such black and white thinking ever a good way to discern truth from lies in a world where almost everything has some element of spin? Are we so desperate for a truth-telling hero – like the practiced liar described by Anna Salter above – that we have lost our ability to critically think? What happened to our ability to understand and identify the nuances and subtitles of big government propaganda?
The broad view of Wiki-leaks and its documents, so far, paints a picture of a concerted effort to supplant the alternative, anti-war media with an illusion of truth. As the Western mainstream media continues to reach new heights of mendacity and obfuscation of the truth, an increasing number of ordinary people have been turning to alternative news sites for a more accurate perspective of what is happening on our planet. This has posed a clear threat to those whose positions of influence and power depend on a misinformed population.
The solution to this problem would be the appearance on the scene of an organization that goes one better than the anti-war, alternative media and produces ‘smoking gun’, officially documented evidence of government lies and deception. Such evidence would, after all, come from the horse’s mouth, a veritable admission of guilt from the wrong-doers themselves rather than accusations from third-party alternative news web sites. Re-read Anna Salter’s description of the pedophile she was interviewing above to get a real picture of the pathology at work here. The deception, of course, lies not in the release of official documents, but in the use of those documents, which in themselves do not constitute high crimes, as a cover to promote the same big government lies. I submit that, based on the clear evidence, Wiki-leaks is just such an organization and is designed to fulfill just such a role: the dissemination of Plausible Lies.