Pants on Fire

Stepped out of the Metro and saw a fog machine at the curb, spewing out puffs of vapor. Another bioterrorism test? No, they’re filming a Coca Cola commercial at the corner of Connecticut and 17th Street.

Democratic strategist James Carville encounters former GOP senator Bill Frist at a hot dog stand, no doubt teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony. Extras walk back and forth on the sidewalk.

Not long after arriving at the office, there are sirens in the street. Peering out the window, I see two fire trucks southbound on 17th, escorted by two black SUVs – Secret Service vehicles. There’s a two-alarm fire at the Old Executive Office building, smoke pouring out of third-floor windows.

The guy doing front desk security says that we have the smell of smoke in the upper floors of the building. I tell him that the destruction of evidence probably got out of hand.

Around lunch time, I strolled over to the massive granite building just to check out the scene.

At 12:30, White House spokesperson Dana Perino held a press briefing during which she took issue with a New York Times article about the destruction of video tapes documenting the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” of suspected terrorists.

Perino – who recently admitted to achieving her post unaware of the Cuban missile crisis -- objected to a subhead that said “White House Role Was Wider Than It Said,” specifically the use of the word “it.”

“Well, the subhead of the newspaper indicated that the White House -- well, it says the White House role was wider than it said, implying that I had either changed my story, or I or somebody else at the White House had misled the public,” she said.

In a statement, Perino said the inference of an effort to mislead the public is “pernicious and troubling.”

She didn’t say that the substance of the subhead is untrue, or that the article is factually incorrect. Just that the White House hasn’t said anything publicly about the matter at all, so “it” said nothing. Sure enough, the Times obliged by changing the subhead.

Of all the lies, falsehoods, duplicity, manipulations and deceptions perpetrated by this administration – the Iraq war, the war on terrorism, the outing of Valerie Plame, the existence of clandestine prisons violating international and US law, even blatant out-in-the-open lies like Bush’s firing of Rumsfeld – this is the line Perino draws in the sand.

Pernicious and troubling are a good way to start describing it.


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