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 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

October 6, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 125




Dennis Coday Defiling language

Dennis Coday, NCR staff writer

Even as polls show a continued slide in support for President George Bush, we were treated this weekend to another tale of White House deception.

Despite assurances from the Bush administration that Iraq's oil would pay for the country's reconstruction, the administration had in hand a report on the Iraqi oil industry that said otherwise (Report offered a bleak outlook on Iraqi oil). The Pentagon report says that the Iraqi oil industry was so badly damaged by a decade of trade embargoes that its production capacity had fallen by more than 25 percent.

List of things George Bush cannot find
A routine from "Saturday Night Live" Oct. 4, 2003
Leaks at the White House
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Saddam Hussein
Osama Bin Laden
Links between Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein
Links between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorists
The anthrax mail terrorist(s)
His butt with both hands*
*I apologize if this last item offends NCR readers.
According to a Pentagon official who served on the task force, its projections for yearly oil revenues were $25 million to $30 million in the very best case, no sabotage and little or no battle damage. The "worse than best case" projected $16 billion. The worst case was no revenue for a few years if there was major sabotage and some significant battle damage.

Last week as Congress debated how to raise the $87,000,000,000 needed for Iraq and the war on terror this year, one Congressperson after another suggested that Iraq pay for reconstruction itself. Isn't it duplicitous to suggest that Iraq pay for the havoc and destruction that we caused through a decade of sanctions and two wars? Whether one answers yes or no, that question is moot. Iraq has little capacity to pay. The Bush administration knew this and said nothing.

For anyone who needs more evidence that deception is part of the Bush game plan, yet another study of American attitudes on the U.S.-led war in Iraq shows that a majority of our citizens believe: a) weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, b) Saddam Hussein worked with the Sept. 11 terrorists, and c) foreign countries generally backed the U.S.-led war. This most recently released report, "Misperceptions, The Media and The Iraq War," comes from the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland.

"While we cannot assert that these misperceptions created the support for going to war with Iraq, it does appear likely that support for the war would be substantially lower if fewer members of the public had these misperceptions," said Steven Kull, who directs the university program.

And, we might add, the Bush administration either encouraged these misconceptions or did little to correct them.

Some would say that this is all part of political spin and all politicians do it. Yet, surely the mounting evidence reveals a pattern of deception by this administration that goes beyond mere spin.

Besides drops in public opinion polls, there are other signs that the Bush administration is beginning to pay the price for this deception. There is some indication (NPR's Cokie Roberts Week in Politics ) that even support from his own party, especially members of his party holding elected office, is weakening.

A couple of months ago in this column, I criticized Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz for using inappropriate language when talking about the assassinated brothers Uday and Qusay Hussein (Words can cause damage). I received a number of e-mails criticizing me for what I said about Wolfowitz.

I was reminded of this criticism as I pondered how this administration abuses language.

In my faith tradition, the word is held as something sacred and God-given. Jesus used words to heal and comfort. He also used words to call people to justice.

Using words as weapons to exert power, to belittle and shackle people, and to deceive denies the sacredness of language. This is what I cannot tolerate.

Dennis Coday is an NCR staff writer and coordinates NCR's Web site. His e-mail address is

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