Truth Is the Biggest Threat to Democracy in DC
Early this year, Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member, was arrested and charged with transmission of national defense information and other charges. Teixeira allegedly leaked classified documents on the Ukraine war and other foreign policy issues to a Discord gaming group. The document propagated from there and appeared in many news articles in the following months.
The Post article sympathetically portrays the struggles of U.S. government officials fighting to suppress the unapproved eruption of hard facts. In a passage sue to boost sales of Kleenex inside the Beltway, the Post quotes a U.S. government official who was permitted to remain anonymous: “We were blindsided and furious,”
The Post, which partnered with PBS for a television program on the Discord leaks, noted that the “top secret... leaks predicted Ukraine’s failure to make substantial gains in its counteroffensive — a multibillion-dollar effort that cost tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian lives. The bleak forecast provided a sharp contrast to Washington’s optimistic messaging on the war, and it hurt Ukraine’s relationship with its chief backer, the U.S. government.” The “bleak forecast” was vastly more accurate than anything emitted by the Biden White House. A senior defense official (anonymous, of course) told the Post that the Pentagon raced to determine “what information may have been compromised.” But the real challenge was determining which official lies had been debunked.
The Post bewailed how the leaks discomfited the Ukrainian government. The Post noted that the “the leaks included never-before-released casualty estimates for Ukrainian forces, weaknesses in Ukraine’s ability to service damaged armored vehicles and the country’s shrinking supply of air defense munitions, which left population centers vulnerable to Russian cruise missile strikes and drones. Other documents warned that Ukraine was struggling to sustain troops, artillery and equipment, which probably would result in only “modest territorial gains” that fall “well short” of Kyiv’s goals.”
But the only reason that the “leaks” caused an international uproar is because U.S. government officials and their foreign partners had been brazenly lying about Ukrainian successes and prospects for victory. Folks who read foreign news sources or independent American outlets or websites (such as Mises.org) were far more likely to recognize that the war would have no happy ending for either Ukraine or Russia.
The Post omitted mentioning the role of federal censorship in deluding Americans about the Ukraine war. In July 2023, the House Judiciary Committee revealed that the FBI routinely colluded with Ukraine’s spy agency which sought help to suppress social media accounts that criticized the Ukraine government or “inaccurately reflects events in Ukraine” (including accurate battlefield reports of Ukrainian military defeats). The House report revealed that the FBI “routinely relayed these lists [of accounts] to the relevant social media platforms” and sought their suppression. The House report noted that “authentic accounts of Americans, including a verified U.S. State Department account and those belonging to American journalists, were ensnared in the censorship effort and flagged for social media companies to take down.” The CIA also pressured Twitter, calling for the suppression of “long lists of newspapers, tweets or YouTube videos guilty of ‘anti-Ukraine narratives,” journalist Matt Taibbi reported.
Washington Post readers are the cream of the intellectual crop, at least according to Washington Post readers. So how did Post devotees respond to the indignation about the leaker?
The article generated almost 600 comments. Among the most liked was an outburst from “ArtPope”:” Don't understand why this article was written other than to support the pro-Putin, anti-Ukrainian position of the white nationalist evangelical fascist RepubliQans.” “Thinking4" replied: They have profound ignorance of democracy and that their very words and actions undermine the standing of the US in the world.” (Thinking4 was probably not an English major.)
None of the most liked comments showed any outrage about Team Biden’s perennial lies on Ukraine. Instead, raw hatred was popular: “Find these traitors. Put their butts in jail. 10 years minimum. No deals.” “Make it 30,” came a quick reply, and another person piled on: “In solitary.” Said another: “Throughout history, the traditional punishment for treason is hanging. I'm ok with that.” “Mario TRUTH” joined the lynch mob: “What Teixeira did was nothing short of America WORST traitor it has ever seen. He not only aided in murdering 1000’s of innocent people, he intruded in Ukrainian leaders planning of a counteroffensive that would have saved many of the 1000’s Teixeira killed.”
So, U.S. government officials are entitled to blindfold and deceive the American people to avoid “intruding” on foreign leaders planning a military attack? This theory of democracy gets curiouser and curiouser.
The Post noted that the Discord leaks “depicted Zelensky in a new light, revealing his apparent interest in occupying Russian border villages and obtaining long-range missiles to hit targets deep inside Russian territory — an assertion that Ukrainians deny and would have deeply angered Washington.” So, America’s favored foreign leader was conniving to pull the United States into World War Three? Maybe Biden should have asked if Americans supported such recklessness? No, he was president, so he was entitled to delude Americans and pretend to rule the world.
Perhaps the greatest intellectual calisthenics in the long article was the paragraph that exonerated all Biden administration falsehoods on Ukraine. The Post offered a finger-wagging explanation: “Rather than exposing willful deceit by a U.S. government eager to bury bad news, the Discord leaks revealed a sharp divide between the U.S. intelligence analysts who authored the documents and many senior officials at the White House, Pentagon and State Department who were overly sanguine about Ukraine’s prospects for success.”
Do the Post reporters and editors have no shame? They were not smart (or honest) enough to hark back to one of the clearest lessons from the Pentagon Papers, leaked in 1971. As philosopher Hannah Arendt noted, during the Vietnam War, “the policy of lying was hardly ever aimed at the enemy but chiefly if not exclusively destined for domestic consumption, for propaganda at home and especially for the purpose of deceiving Congress.” CIA analysts did excellent work in the early period of the Vietnam conflict. But “in the contest between
public statements, always over-optimistic, and the truthful reports of the intelligence community, persistently bleak and ominous, the public statements were likely to win simply because they were public,” Arendt commented. The Post rationalized the bias of Team Biden: “U.S. officials viewed the airing of pessimistic battle outcomes as detrimental to their endeavor to raise support for the war effort, both in Congress and internationally.” Truth-telling never competed with cheerleading for more bombs and missiles.
Biden, his appointees, and plenty of former military officials on the gravy train have made endless brazenly false statements about the Ukraine war. The result is that the Ukrainian government is on the verge of conscripting Ukrainian grandfathers to send on daily suicidal Pickett’s Charges so that Ukrainian politicians can keep pocketing billions of dollars in handouts from the U.S. government. Ukraine prohibited any males between the age of 18 to 60 from leaving the country - as if the government had a preemptive right to send them to their death. Ukraine is closing its western border to “military age males” the same way that East Germany closed its border to West Europe decades ago.
But it remains a “no cost” war inside the Washington Beltway, where Ukrainian flags quickly replaced BLM banners after the start of the war. Nothing has changed for the policy class in the last 60 years. Arendt castigated the lavishly-paid intellectual cheerleaders for the Vietnam War who ignored “the untold misery that their ‘solutions,’ pacification and relocation programs, defoliation, napalm, and anti-personnel bullets, held in store.” In the subsequent decades, intellectuals became more affluent but not more trustworthy.
Will the Washington Post ever honestly examine the costs of its own kowtowing to officialdom? The Post could do a great in-depth investigation of why its own editorial page and columnists have made so many false, misleading, or deranged statements on the Ukraine war. But don’t expect hell to freeze over any time soon.