Today’s Washington Post reports on the continued re-writing of history, internet-style, of the Bush administration. I know I’ve written about this before, but I just don’t have the energy to search for it and link it here. Anyway, it’s interesting because so many people now get their information from the net, whether it’s kids writing a report for school or journalists writing a story for a major newspaper. Those of us with half a brain know that the information on the internet should be regarded with a skeptical eye, making sure to check sources and bibliographies. Well, who seriously believed that the White House would be an untrustworthy source of information?
Don’t answer that.
Anyway, in the information age, the control of information is ultimate power. The Republicans have understood this for some time, carefully polishing and phrasing everything they say to promote an ideology — from creating euphemisms such as “death tax” to re-writing scientific facts to fit their views. The left wing doesn’t seem to have figured out how to use their words effectively.
It’s not quite Soviet-style airbrushing, but the Bush administration has been using cyberspace to make some of its own cosmetic touch-ups to history.
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.
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.