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WHITE HOUSE COVERS TRACKS BY REMOVING INFORMATION
The Daily Mis-Lead
December 18, 2003

In a high-tech cover-up, the Washington Post this morning reports the White House is actively scrubbing government websites clean of any of its own previous statements that have now proven to be untrue. Specifically, on April 23, 2003, the president sent his top international aid official on national television to reassure the public that the cost of war and reconstruction in Iraq would be modest. USAID Director Andrew Natsios, echoing other Administration officials, told Nightline that, "In terms of the American taxpayers contribution, [$1.7 billion] is it for the US. The American part of this will be $1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this."

The president has requested more than $166 billion in funding for the war and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan this year. But instead of admitting that he misled the nation about the cost of war, the president has allowed the State Department "to purge the comments by Natsios from the State Department's Web site. The transcript, and links to it, have vanished." (The link where the transcript existed until it caused embarrassment was www.usaid.gov/iraq/nightline_042403_t.html).

When confronted with the dishonest whitewash, the administration decided to lie. A Bush spokesman said the administration was forced to remove the statements because, "there was going to be a cost" charged by ABC for keeping the transcript on the government's site. But as the Post notes, "other government Web sites, including the State and Defense departments, routinely post interview transcripts, even from 'Nightline,'" and according to ABC News, "there is no cost."

This story is not the first time the President has tried to hide critical information from the American public. For instance, the president opposed the creation of the independent 9/11 investigative commission, and has refused to provide the commission with critical information, even under threat of subpoena. Similarly, after making substantial budget cuts, the president ordered the government to stop publishing its regular report detailing those cuts to states. And when confronted with a continuing unemployment crisis, the president ordered the Department of Labor to stop publishing its regular mass layoff report.

It is also not the first time the administration has sought to revise history and public records when those records become incriminating. As the Post reports "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." And the "Justice Department recently redacted criticism of the department in a consultant's report that had been posted on its Web site."

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