Saturday, December 08, 2007

Bush continues to slide down a tube of greasy lies. Ken Starr's standards, it's an impeachable offense. Now, would someone PLEASE give Bush a blowjob, and preferably, someone gay, in a bathroom? -MS

This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

The problem with Bush's fairly transparent lies about the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran isn't just that they're obvious; it's that they're clumsy.
Asked when he learned about Iran's halted nuclear-weapons program, the president said it was "last week." White House officials then conceded it was actually in August.
Asked about the August briefing, the president said the Director of National Intelligence told him there was "new information," but "didn't tell" him what it was. White House officials then conceded Bush was told that the August briefing included a discussion about Iran possibly having suspended its nuclear program four years ago.
Asked about any warnings he may have received in August about toning down his rhetoric on Iran, the president said, "[N]obody ever told me that." White House officials then conceded Bush was told to "stand down" when it came to Iran, advice the president chose to ignore.
This isn't complicated. When Bush says one thing, and then White House officials tell us that reality is something different, then necessarily what the president told us wasn't true. Now, this could qualify as a lie (if he knew the truth at the time), or it could qualify as incompetence (if he just doesn't know what he's talking about), but it really has to be one or the other.
Unless, of course, you're the White House press secretary, Dana Perino.
"OK, look. I can see where you could see that the president could have been more precise in that language. But the president was being truthful."
I can enjoy rhetorical parsing as much as the next guy, but in no way is it possible to characterize obviously-false remarks as "truthful," unless the Dana Perino changed the meaning of the word when no one was looking.
It's gracious of Perino to concede that Bush could have been "more precise," but precision isn't really the problem here. When "last week" is "last August," Bush is being more than just imprecise. When not being aware of new information becomes being aware of new information, those are opposites, not shades or degrees.

Also from the briefing, CNN's Ed Henry, building off a report from the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, brought a new angle to all of this.
Q: Can you just clarify one more thing? What day was the president actually briefed on the NIE?
PERINO: I don't know. I don't know.
Q: Well, because Mr. Hadley left the impression that it was last Wednesday.
PERINO: Oh, on the NIE, specifically?
Q: On the NIE.
PERINO: Yes, last Wednesday.
Q: Last Wednesday? OK. But there have been reports that the president briefed Prime Minister Olmert last week, maybe on Monday.
PERINO: I don't know.
Q: Did he brief Prime Minister Olmert? And how could he brief Olmert on Monday about a report that he found out about on Wednesday? Can you...
PERINO: I don't -- I will check.
And just for the fun of it, I thought I'd mention that according to the standards Ken Starr established in 1998, if a president is caught lying -- even in response to a reporter's question, whether he's under oath or not -- it's an impeachable offense. That's not my standard; it's Ken Starr's.
Just sayin'.

Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.

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