Friday, November 16, 2007

Something from Robert, Sam and Nat Parry about the 2000 election

Editor’s Note: Over the past couple of decades, the Republicans have benefited enormously from their ability to create and disseminate false narratives through the Right’s large, well-financed media apparatus.

With mainstream journalists unwilling to challenge the false narratives – and thus put their careers at risk – American voters often go to the polls believing things that are almost the opposite of the truth.

In this excerpt from Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, the authors present a case study from Election 2000:

During Campaign 2000, conservative groups were given wide leeway in smearing Democratic candidate Al Gore without being called to account, even when the Vice President was falsely portrayed as a traitor.

For instance, in the weeks before Election 2000, Aretino Industries, a pro-Republican group from Texas, ran an emotional ad modeled after Lyndon Johnson’s infamous 1964 commercial that showed a girl picking a daisy before the screen dissolved into a nuclear explosion.

The ad remake accused the Clinton-Gore administration of selling vital nuclear secrets to communist China, in exchange for campaign donations in 1996. The compromised nuclear secrets, the ad stated, gave China “the ability to threaten our homes with long-range nuclear warheads.”

But the ad – which aired in “swing” states including Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania – was filled with disinformation. The actual evidence was that the key breach in national security, contributing to the modernization of China’s nuclear arsenal, occurred in the 1980s, not the 1990s.

In other words, the secrets were lost during the Reagan-Bush administration, not the Clinton-Gore administration.

The most important compromised U.S. secret that allegedly helped China’s nuclear weapons program was the blueprint for the W-88 miniaturized nuclear warhead, which was smuggled to the Chinese in 1988, the last year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, according to documents later given to U.S. authorities by a Chinese defector.

China tested their W-88-style warhead in 1992, the last year of the first Bush administration.

Therefore, the W-88 secret was lost – and acted upon – before Bill Clinton and Al Gore took office. Indeed, the only significant part of this nuclear-secrets case that happened during the Clinton-Gore administration was that a Chinese defector exposed the espionage breach in 1995.

However, when the American public first learned of the compromised secrets a few years later, the Republicans applied fuzzy logic and a blurred chronology to transform the lost nuclear blueprints, apparently compromised on the Reagan-Bush watch, into an attack theme on Clinton and Gore.

Cox Report

This clever strategy could be traced back to a May 1999 report prepared by a Republican-controlled congressional investigation headed by Rep. Christopher Cox of California. The so-called Cox report accused the Clinton-Gore administration of failing to protect the nation against China’s theft of top-secret nuclear designs and other sensitive data.

When released on May 25, 1999 – shortly after the Clinton impeachment battle had ended – the Cox report was greeted by conservative groups and the national news media as another indictment of the Clinton administration.

By then, the Washington press corps had long been addicted to “Clinton scandals” and viewed almost any allegation through that prism, regardless of the details.

The Cox report gave weight in the public’s mind to the suspicion that there was something far more sinister behind earlier allegations that a Chinese government front had funneled $30,000 in illegal “soft money” donations to the Democrats in 1996.

Cox pulled off his sleight of hand with barely anyone spotting the trick card up his sleeve. The key ruse was to leave out dates of alleged Chinese spying in the 1980s and thus obscure the fact that the floodgates of U.S. nuclear secrets to China – including how to build the miniaturized W-88 nuclear warhead – had opened wide during the Reagan-Bush era.

While leaving out those Republican time elements, Cox shoved references to the alleged lapses into the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

So, the Cox report’s “Overview” stated that “the PRC (People’s Republic of China) thefts from our National Laboratories began at least as early as the late 1970s, and significant secrets are known to have been stolen as recently as the mid-1990s.”

In this way, Cox started with the Carter presidency, jumped over the 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and landed in the Clinton years. In the “Overview” alone, there were three dozen references to dates from the Clinton years and only five mentions of dates from the Reagan-Bush years, with none of those citations related to alleged wrongdoing.

Cox’s stacking of the deck carried over into the report’s two-page chronology of the Chinese spy scandal. On pages 74-75, the Cox report put all the information boxes about Chinese espionage suspicions into the Carter and Clinton years.

Nothing sinister is attributed specifically to the Reagan-Bush era, other than a 1988 test of a neutron bomb built from secrets that the report says were believed stolen in the “late 1970s,” the Carter years.

Only a careful reading of the text inside the chronology’s boxes made clear that many of the worst national security breaches could be traced to the Reagan-Bush era.

[One of the authors of the Cox report was I. Lewis Libby, a key neoconservative who would later become Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and a figure in the Plame-gate scandal, the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert CIA identity.]

there's much much more here.

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