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Saturday, June 11, 2005 

Distorting The Plain Language of the DSM

Those who have tried to discredit the DSM have done so on various grounds. GOP Chairman Ken Melhman falsely claimed the memo was discredited (even though its contents are accurate, according to U.S. and British officials). The President has tried to insinuate that the timing of the document's release in some way lessens its importance.

Yet perhaps the most desparate--and ill-founded--attempts to avoid the reality of the document is the language-parsing that has been taking place. In a separate world live those who insist the word "fixed" in "the facts were being fixed around the policy" means "bolted on". Today, courtesy of Tod Lindberg from the Weekly Standard, we get another failed attempt to twist the word "fixed" into something more benign--and less damning--for the President:

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Those who have tried to discredit the DSM have done so on various grounds. GOP Chairman Ken Melhman falsely claimed the memo was discredited (even though its contents are accurate, according to U.S. and British officials). The President has tried to insinuate that the timing of the document's release in some way lessens its importance.

Yet perhaps the most desparate--and ill-founded--attempts to avoid the reality of the document is the language-parsing that has been taking place. In a separate world live those who insist the word "fixed" in "the facts were being fixed around the policy" means "bolted on". Today, courtesy of Tod Lindberg from the Weekly Standard, we get another failed attempt to twist the word "fixed" into something more benign--and less damning--for the President:

For smoking-gun enthusiasts, the key to the plot is that word "fixed," as in, the fix is in. As in, the intelligence and facts weren't what Bush needed, so he fixed them. The problem with this analysis, if you can call it that, is quite simple: If what is being described is chicanery and wrongdoing in the form of the Bush administration fabricating intelligence, how come nobody in the room with Blair when C drops this bombshell is sufficiently perturbed to do so much as ask a follow-up question? How come Blair's "sofa cabinet" just goes on earnestly discussing the military options?


Lindberg sets up a strawman which is easily knocked down. The DSM is not a word-for-word transcription of everything said at the meeting. It summarizes the main points made by the parties to the discussion. So an attempt to discredit the memo based on what it doesn't say is way off the mark. Linberg goes on to do a dance around the word "fixed":

The point is that the Bush administration seems bent on going to war based on the terrorism/WMD case without going to the U.N. (thus obtaining a legal justification in the Security Council--a point on which C turned out to be wrong) and without "publishing materialon the Iraqi regime's record" (thus making a humanitarian case--which Blair would subsequently emphasize). The "policy" decision was that the case was going to be made on the basis of terrorism/WMD, with the evidence "fixed"--made fast, set in order, arranged--to buttress that case, notwithstanding that, in the view of some present, other cases might be stronger (hence Straw's point about Libya, North Korea, and Iran).


So the word "fixed" here means to "arrange" or "buttress"? Just like others have claimed it means "bolted on"? I assume that refers to using the evidence that supports your position, while ignoring or not using the evidence which conflicts your policy.

But as ukiyo below has noted, "What makes this argument so preposterous is that it is based on acceptance of the idea of selectively choosing intelligence that supports the policy of invasion. Adulterating intel is bad, but cherry picking the good parts is OK? This distinction amounts to little more than a bald-faced lie versus a lie of omission. Either way, we've been misled."

It is important to note that while several commentators have tried to minimize the memo based on their interpretation of the word "fixed," the President has yet to properly address exactly what transpired at that meeting in July of 2002. At the very least, he should tell the American public what his interpretation of the word "fixed" really is.

 posted by Georgia  # 8:24 AM  
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