Thursday, December 18, 2003

Yeah, what he said.

"We watch the American government be friends with this dictator over here and support him, because he will give you the oil or minerals or something that you want," one person stood up to say. "But then with this other dictator over there, who is not so friendly and cooperative, you will start talking about democracy just so you can get rid of him. This is so hypocritical, to use democracy this way, like a weapon. Do Americans think that the world does not understand what it is you are doing?"

Of course it doesn't help when your self anointed administration, "is convinced of their superiority and has an overbearing belief in their qualities of leadership but cannot distinguish between leadership (maturity, decisiveness, assertiveness, co-operation, trust, integrity) and bullying (immaturity, impulsiveness, aggression, manipulation, distrust, deceitfulness)."

And speaking of manipulation, distrust and deceitfulness:

White House officials were steamed when Andrew S. Natsios, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said earlier this year that U.S. taxpayers would not have to pay more than $1.7 billion to reconstruct Iraq -- which turned out to be a gross understatement of the tens of billions of dollars the government now expects to spend.

Recently, however, the government has purged the offending comments by Natsios from the agency's Web site. The transcript, and links to it, have vanished.

This is not the first time the administration has done some creative editing of government Web sites. After the insurrection in Iraq proved more stubborn than expected, the White House edited the original headline on its Web site of President Bush's May 1 speech, "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended," to insert the word "Major" before combat.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, administration Web sites have been scrubbed for anything vaguely sensitive, and passwords are now required to access even much unclassified information. Though it is not clear whether the White House is directing the changes, several agencies have been following a similar pattern. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID have removed or revised fact sheets on condoms, excising information about their effectiveness in disease prevention, and promoting abstinence instead. The National Cancer Institute, meanwhile, scrapped claims on its Web site that there was no association between abortion and breast cancer. And the Justice Department recently redacted criticism of the department in a consultant's report that had been posted on its Web site.

For all those long years of the cold war, I think somebody should have reminded these guys that if you fight the same enemy long enough, you become them.