It’s old news that the Bush administration has a real hard time telling the truth. But the fundamental mendacity of this gang keeps popping up in the weirdest, most inexplicable and just plain dumbest ways.
The most recent example comes from President Bush’s visit to the troops in Baghdad. No sooner was everyone back in D.C. than head White House flack Dan Bartlett sought to extend the life of this story by asserting that the total secrecy essential for the trip was nearly blown when a British Airways jetliner spotted the presidential 747 off the west coast of the British Isles at dawn (a pretty picture, isn’t it?)
“Is that Air Force One?” the BA pilot supposedly asked.
After a few moments of silence, he received a message saying, “Jetstream 5.” That’s an executive jet a fraction of the size of a 747.
“Oh,” the bemused British Airways pilot said.
Now, just on the face of it there are problems with this story. Given the vertical and horizontal separation rules for airliners and their closing speeds, which are eyeblink quick unless they happen to be on the same course, it is unlikely that the BA pilot could have distinguished one 747 from another. Especially by dawn’s early light.
Unless there was a near-miss (now that would have been news).
Anyway, British Airways quickly expressed skepticism that the encounter ever happened. Then the White House changed its story. Then, British Airways said the new story never happened either:
"We've looked into it," a spokeswoman said. "It didn't happen."
Anyone should have been able to figure out they’d get caught at this. But they do it anyway. They can’t help themselves.
Joshua Marshall, who dissected this administration’s lying "style" in this piece in Washington Monthly, also has been tracking the progress of the Air Force One incident on his blog. His scorn for Mary Matalin, a former administration official who basically seems to think lies are useful to reveal the “truth” about the president, alone is worth the visit.