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Sunday, March 09, 2008

SOUND OFF: IS WRONG SOMETIMES RIGHT?

I mentioned a Web site launched by the Center for Public Integrity that allows users to search comments by members of the Bush administration for falsehoods relating to Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq. Readers were divided as to whether it is ever OK for national leaders to deliberately make false statements, not to mislead enemies but to mislead their own people, in order to bring about an undertaking that they believe will lead to a greater good.

George Zahka of Bradenton Beach, Fla., inclines to accept the practice.

"Leaders of all countries have been doing this from time immemorial," Zahka writes.

On the other hand, Kathy Kuczynski of El Toro, Calif., is outraged by it.

"I can't tell you how angry I am at this administration's cavalier treatment of the truth," Kuczynski writes. "I hope for truth from the next president, no matter who that may be."

Richard Collins of La Mirada, Calif., took me to task for mentioning a site that was partisan in tone, saying that he had been surprised and disappointed not to see similar dissections of comments by Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and others.

"If you want to publish a link to a `Bush lied, people died' Web site," he advises me, "do so, but please have the integrity to say what it is."

Check out other opinions at "This Is For Your Own Good," or post your own by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2008 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey,

I still don't understand the "Bush lied, kids died!" thing.

Bush specifically said in a speech, "The British government has learned that Sadaam Hussein recently sought large quantities of uranium in Africa." That's what British Intelligence reported to him.

And then former charge d'affaires in Baghdad in 1990 Joseph Wilson came out with his denunciation:

"I spent the next eight days [in Niger] drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place."

Excuse me, but Bush used the word "sought," not "bought." Even though they share five letters, and in the same sequence no less, they do have different meanings.

And I see a distinction between Africa and Niger. It is undisputed that Iraq did send delegations to Africa where, I assume, they were not seeking oil or native trinkets.

And as I recall, before the Iraqi invasion the major news media was cautioning against it because it was feared Sadaam would use gas, biological weapons or both against our troops. Does anyone dispute the fact he gassed tens of thousands of Kurds and had 300,000 of his own people executed? Aren't gas and biological weapons also considered WMDs?

And wasn't Bush I (i.e. Bush the First) criticized for not pushing on into Iraq after forcing Sadaam's occupying troops out of Kuwait?
I don't know about you, but I have this gut feeling that Sadaam was not a very nice person and shouldn't have become the dictator in the first place.

It's the same strange feeling that leads me to believe that organized crime is behind the Mafia. But that could just be due to an overactive imagination.

The same people who want us out of Iraq now want us to intervene in Dafur for no other reason then to stop the genocide there. I guess that means it was okay for Sadaam to kill Kurds by the tens of thousands but not for the government in Suden to kill tens of thousands of Dafurians. Or whatever they're called.

Next thing you know people will be criticizing FDR for invading Normandy in June 1944 without the "consensus" of both Germany and France. He could have at least asked if June 6th would be clear on their calendars. It was summer and they might have had vacation plans.

Hello! Are there any intelligent life forms out there?

Burl