When absorbing the latest White House claims about the threat of terrorists, Americans should remember the eerie revelations that President Bush's ministers of disinformation muzzle officials about what they may say publicly by banning some topics and heavily editing speeches to slant facts toward fantasy or political propaganda.
The most recent surgeon general testified under oath that the White House refused to allow him to speak on topics offensive to the evangelical right wing. And NASA's top climatologist was ordered not to talk about global warming.
So, how should the new National Intelligence Estimate released on Tuesday be read¾fact or more political disinformation?
In essence, the NIE claims the terrorist group al-Qaeda is rebuilding toward the capability of attacking the United States.
However, this is the same al-Qaeda of which President Bush said in October 2006: "Absolutely, we're winning. Al-Qaeda is on the run." (Vice President Cheney had his own chest-thumping empty boast in June 2005: Insurgents in Iraq "are in their last throes.")
If the president was certain al-Qaeda was on the run less than a year ago, is this new warning more political fearmongering to get Americans and Congress in line behind the president's failed war in Iraq?
There's a history of the White House sounding the alarm when polls and congressional support are plunging. Remember color-coded Homeland Security alerts that came and went with no actual threats and seemed to be attempts to grab headlines on days when the war was going badly?
Perhaps this strategy makes perfect sense to the Bush-Cheney plan for keeping Americans and Congress off balance.
To wit: Claim that insurgents and al-Qaeda are on the run to create the image of a victorious White House, then interrupt Americans' reverie and complacency with a jarring claim that terrorists are more dangerous and in a position to strike on the U.S. mainland.
But Americans have discovered the cynical pattern, like a one-reel movie that never stops. They're refusing to buy false claims of victory (ghastly TV images from the frontlines document the true story)-and rejecting attempts to be frightened and panicked into backing the lost war.
The Bush-Cheney stratgey to constantly deceive the country is backfiring. The public increasingly believes what President Bush says less and less. Little wonder the early talk of Bush's being history's worst president.
Telling the truth from the outset and not lying about reasons for attacking Iraq would have been so much easier, and not left the White House confused about whether to claim victory or setbacks to get Americans' attention.