Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Lies, fabrications, and half-truths

Bob Hebert has a very nice op-ed in the NY Times on the recent death of journalist David Halberstam (subscription required). The key point he makes is:

If there was one thing above all else that David taught us, it was to be skeptical of official accounts, to stay always on guard against the lies, fabrications, half-truths, misrepresentations, exaggerations and all other manifestations of falsehood that are fired at us like machine-gun bullets by government officials and others in high places, often with lethal results.

He goes on to illustrate these kinds of lies, fabrications, and half-truths in the context of the recent Congressional hearings regarding Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch. It is indeed sobering to think that such lies, fabrications, and half-truths are part of business as usual even in a country with as free a press as the US.

In this age of spin doctoring, do you think a government that simply tells the plain unvarnished truth could succeed?

1 comment:

Ajit said...

Pandu is a great friend of mine - some of the cool things that we have in common are that we both have two beautiful daughters each, we ran the Chicago Marathon together in 2003 and we were in the graduating class in IIT Bombay in the dim and distant past. So when Pandu pointed out that he was blogging, I felt compelled to read it and also respond.

For a long time now I have felt that nobody in power can be trusted - not the police, not the businesses, not the civil servants and most definitely not the government (or any arm of it). I am more familiar with the Pat Tillman case and frankly am baffled why the army resorted to lies - what happened was a tragedy and no crime was committed when he was felled by friendly fire. I don't have enough data to determine if there was negligence on anybody's part - but the army compounded the tragedy by committing a crime. They could have told the truth and nobody would have thought any worse of the army or the government - he was out there fighting in a war and being felled by friendly fire has happened before and will happen again.

To me the more interesting question is: Why does any government think it has to lie to be (considered) successful?


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