According to an exhaustive Senate Intelligence Committee report that might be declassified someday—and sources speaking on condition of anonymity confirm that timeline is "pretty doggone solid"—the CIA might have told a tiny fib or two about its conduct in the War on Terror.
Among other things, the CIA reportedly was a lot rougher on alleged enemy combatants than it admitted. Also, it suggested harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding produced valuable intel — which is sort of, well, not true. And it appears to have exaggerated—just a little bit, mind you—the importance of certain detainees. Abu Zubaida, for instance, turns out not to have been a senior al-Qaida leader, as was claimed while he was being repeatedly waterboarded. The U.S. government now concedes he was never even an al-Qaida member. Oopsies.
Of course, the investigation of events that occurred during the administration of Republican president George W. Bush was conducted by Senate Democrats. This could mean either that it was a rigorously honest inquiry unhindered by partisan loyalties—or that it also exaggerates and misrepresents, to paint the opposing team in the worst possible light. Nevertheless, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein found its contents "shocking"—a sentiment shared by good Democrats everywhere.
Democrats have exhibited much less skepticism—let alone consternation—about the current administration's claims regarding the number of people who have signed up for health insurance. The White House says Obamacare hit its target of 7 million people. So far as Democratic cheerleaders are concerned, that's a slam-dunk refutation of all the naysaying from conservative Republicans. As The New York Times' Paul Krugman put it, Democrats should "feel free to ridicule right-wingers" who predicted otherwise.
Yet as Shikha Dalmia pointed out Friday at Reason.com, the 7 million figure looks awfully sketchy. Roughly 20 percent of those who sign up through the ACA's exchanges drop out without paying. And "out of the remaining 5.6 million, only about half were likely previously uninsured."
Likewise, many of those who signed up for Medicaid represent the normal churn in that program, which has seen hefty growth for years even without the ACA. And then there are all the Americans who have lost coverage as a result of Obamacare. In Maryland, for example, 60,000 people gained coverage through the ACA—while 75,000 lost it. Oopsies.
This isn't a one-off. Obama earned PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" award for repeatedly promising you could keep you insurance if you liked it.
Fact-checkers also slapped his hand for claiming pre-kindergarten brings a 700 percent return on its investment. And again recently for claiming Obamacare opponents have spent "billions" opposing the law (they haven't).
The administration has inflated the number of unlawful immigrants it deports by counting some "returns"—people turned back at the border—as deportations. And then there was James Clapper's now-infamous lie to Congress. Asked if the NSA were collecting "any type of data at all" on millions of Americans, Obama's director of National Intelligence responded, "No, sir."
Not all lies are quite so baldfaced. Recently Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe "announced" 40 new jobs in Nottoway County, and said the state "is partnering" with the Trout River kiln company to build nine new lumber kilns.
Virginia's end of the "partnership" consists of a one-time grant of $100,000, but you're left with the impression that the jobs wouldn't have been created if not for the governor's personal intercession.
McAuliffe's predecessor, Republican Bob McDonnell, also tried—time after time—to hog the glory from new business ventures he had little or nothing to do with. So did his predecessor, Tim Kaine. It's S.O.P. But notice how they never "announce" layoffs.
These days McAuliffe asserts that failing to expand Medicaid means other states will get Virginia's share of federal funding for expansion. They won't: Total appropriations depend on the number of enrollees, so if Virginia enrolls no one, Virginia's share of the money will not be allocated elsewhere—it will not be allocated, period.
McAuliffe professes total ignorance of an email setting price points for access to him and the Executive Mansion—just as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie professes total ignorance of the manipulations that led to Bridgegate. Just as Bill Clinton professed not to have had sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.
Back during the Vietnam War, the Pentagon's PR guy, Arthur Sylvester, told a group of reporters: "Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you're stupid. Did you hear that? Stupid." Sylvester was being too harsh. Americans are pretty sharp when it comes to picking up on lies told by the other side. If they believe the lies told by their own side, it's not because they're imbeciles. It's because they want to.
This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.