April 8, 2004

Lying Liars and Lawyers

Sherry F. Colb, a professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark, NJ, shares this essay at CNN today educating us as to the "three types of lies" - the insignificant lie, the harmful, material lie, and the beneficial, material lie. As a backdrop to her essay, she features Condaleeza Rice. She doesn't actually mention any actual testimony by Rice, she just chose her at random -

"Until the middle of last week, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was engaged in a conflict with the 9/ 11 Investigation Commission over whether or not she would take an oath to tell the truth prior to voluntarily answering their questions."

But this Colb is a sly fox. She skillfully injects a fourth type of lie - intellectual dishonesty. She makes sure it's a clumsy one, so we can spot it right away:
Lies, however, can be far more destructive, such as -- to pick a purely hypothetical example -- misleading the nation into supporting a war and sending young men and women to die for a cause of which the people are unaware and may not support.

Then, this other cleverly disguised type of lie - the lie-once-removed - "many suspect" is the clue here.
Suppose that -- as many suspect has already occurred with respect to the Iraq War -- our executive branch officials lie to the American people in order to motivate important votes, and those lies lead to unnecessary and unwanted death and injury.

Colb also carefully explains how she lies to get her boring mother off the phone.

So, I'm going to go out on a limb here, but my general take on the article - I think Colb would consider lies told (to pick a purely hypothetical example) to support a Democratic political agenda, to be one of those "beneficial, material lies" types, like the ones told to save Jews from Nazis.

Posted by Kate at April 8, 2004 2:03 PM

She is one reason that CNN is rapidly losing what little credibility it still has.

There is, of course, no evidence, other than wishful thinking on the left, that Dr. Rice lied under oath, or at any other time. Technically, the author is telling somewhat of the truth - that there are people, on the left, who believe Dr. Rice lied, just because they believe anything the Bush administration says is a lie. But putting that in the article as if it had any real weight is itself a lie - as stated in this article, obviously of type #3 in the view of Prof. Colb.

As a further note, I think that Dr. Rice is too good to truly lie, esp., here, under oath, even if she had needed to, which I suspect she didn't. One of the things that I learned trying jury trials is that anyone who knows all the answers is suspect. She very occasionally said she didn't know or didn't remember. Just enough to enhance her credibility, at least in my view.

If this had been a jury trial, I think that it would have been a home run. She routinely credited Clarke, while still undermining a lot of his testimony - in a way that made him look more out of the top loop than a lyier. He was portrayed as ernest, but without all of the information, and without having to worry about everything that she and the President did. The thing that would have clinched her testimony before a jury was the exchange with Ben-Veniste, who asked a question, then tried to tell her he had asked something else. She bore through his badgering, actually answering the question he had, probably inadvertantly, actually asked.

In any case, there is no liklihood of a perjury conviction here. If she were lying, it was by ommission, and not by commission. She is too good, and was too well prepared. She knew what she knew too well, and knew that it would be open for dissection.

Personally, I can somewhat accept #3, as a necessity, but have a hard time with #1. My Ex has never lied to me (except, maybe in the Until Death Do Us Part) in the 20 years I have know her. She sometimes doesn't say something, and that is somewhat lying by omission. But if I ask the right question, I know I will get the truth.

On the other hand, my girl friend/sometimes fiance uses white lies (#1) routinely, primarily to keep from hurting people's feelings, and sometimes to keep herself from looking bad. We routinely end up in the position that she can't do something or go somewhere because she had white lied to someone in order to, for example, be with me. By now, it has gotten a bit old. It is no longer as cute as it used to be.

Posted by: Bruce Hayden at April 9, 2004 10:31 AM

Don't forget about security.

Posted by: Christiana at July 6, 2004 1:00 AM