States of Denial

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A chapter
(cut in the edit) from my new book, Can’t You Get Along
With Anyone? A Writer’s Memoir and a Tale of a Lost Surfer’s

(I use this
title as a plug for Bob Woodward’s new book: the least one
writer can do for another: Bob would do the same for me, right?)

The nationalist
not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own
side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about

George Orwell

April 6, 2006.
Nine days until my self-imposed, symmetry-inspired deadline to finish
this book before I have to leave this little Caribbean island. It’s
going to be close.

CNN. I generally
let it rip, turn CNN loose in the background as I write. This to
surround myself with lies, steep myself in them, wallow in them.
The BBC sometimes. (But how I lament the lack of the Fox News Network
on this island!) Such perspective, such (darkly) comic relief it
all is, as I hit the true homestretch, sprint for the wire.


Woodward. Bob
Woodward. I’ve been reading Bob Woodward to further steep myself
in lies, and in Lies. Here’s a little passage from his book,
The Secret Wars of the CIA
, that got my attention:

(CIA Director) Casey had worked with the Saudi intelligence service
and its ambassador in Washington to arrange the assassination
of the archterrorist Fadlallah. Instead of Fadlallah, the car
bomb had killed at least eighty people, many innocent.

When I came
across this passage I had to stop and read it again, wondering how
and why it had gotten into a book by Bob Woodward. With all his
toadying lies by omission, outright lies and Lies, how and why had
Woodward included in his book this doozey of an admission?

I knew of the
1985 Beirut car bombing and that the CIA had been behind it from
so-called dissident literature: The mainstream press in their contemporaneous
reporting of the incident – and it of course bore minimal discussion
since the victims were Arabs – did not spill the beans about
who was responsible, although you would think it worthy of at least
cursory mention.

Details: The
car bomb was placed in front of a mosque, timed to detonate as the
worshippers were leaving. Aside from the 80-plus human beings killed
outright, 250 or so were maimed or injured, mostly women and children.
The bomb destroyed most of a city block and severely damaged the
mosque; an infant in its crib on the next block was killed by flying
debris. The explosion was nothing short of catastrophic; in the
realm of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Woodward devotes
six pages of Veil to this incident; he really had the dope
on it. This being Bob Woodward, let’s take him on his word
that he has his facts straight.

Some facts:
President Ronald Reagan had to sign a specific presidential finding
before the operation could be carried out (after signing a finding
allowing it to be set up). The plan involved a car bomb rather than
a “cleaner” assassination – a sniper or other type
of lone gunman, say – so the Israelis, who have no problem
with mass killings of Lebanese (or any Arabs), could be blamed.
They wanted it to be a mess, a slaughter.

But they f__k
up. Fadlallah isn’t nearby and over 300 people are killed or

Hold on. Notice
the last two words of the above quoted passage from Veil,
Bob Woodward’s definitive history of the CIA in the 1980s.
Woodward characterizes the car bomb casualties thus: “many
innocent.” Since neither Fadlallah nor any other suspected
terrorists were apparently killed or maimed, where does Woodward
come up with “many innocent”? As far as he knows, the
victims were all innocent, no? A question for Bob: Which of the
victims was guilty? And guilty of what?

Imagine something.
Imagine you’re there in Beirut at the mosque right after the
explosion, dazed and wandering around in the smoke and debris and
torn bodies looking for a loved one, a child, say.

Your six-year-old
daughter, say. You slip and fall. Getting up you realize that that
you stepped on the slick and bloody stomach and intestines of your
child, who had been eviscerated by shrapnel. She’s not quite
dead yet and is crying out for you. You try to gather up her guts
and put them back inside her…

Enough, huh?
I mean who needs to actually reflect on what it was like that day?
Who needs to think about the specific human beings who were slaughtered?

Point being:
Ronald Reagan, President of the United States, and William J. Casey,
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States,
did this. (For UK readers: A British intelligence operative
was involved in the planning as well.)

how Woodward sums up the incident: “(Casey) was too smart not
to see that he and the White House had broken the rules, probably
the law.”

Broken the
rules? Probably the law? A question for Bob: What State of Denial
were you living in that you could claim that a car bombing that
slaughters scores and maims hundreds is rule breaking? What are
we doing here, playing Parcheesi? Probably law breaking?
You want a list of laws, international and domestic – plus
supreme laws of the land, this land, the U.S. of A. – that
were broken in this collusion between the President and CIA Director?
On the other hand, it’s now explained why in all your books,
your nonfiction books, wherein the word “terrorism” (or
its variations, like “terror” or “terrorist”)
are used in total hundreds of times, you never define the word.
Bob, I’m going to define it for you, the way you use it: It’s
terrorism if it’s done to us. If we do it, it’s…
something else.

I’ll again
ask the question regarding Woodward’s book about the secret
wars of the CIA: How and why had Woodward included this doozey of
an admission?

Answer: Because
the car bombing that killed and maimed hundreds of people wasn’t
terrorism, but just an unfortunate incident in “the war on
terror.” (In the U.S. government’s list of terrorist acts
of 1985, the Beirut car bombing does not appear. Perhaps the title
of Bob Woodward’s new book was referring to this circumstance.
Then again, perhaps not.)

an observation, plus a question, for Bob Woodward: In the 1970s
you were largely responsible for toppling a president for obstruction
of justice, yet you now consider a President’s collusion in
mass murder to be rule breaking?

Did something
awful happen to you or am I missing something here?

As described,
I wrote the above in April of this year (a chapter in my new book,
later cut). As I now write the date is October 1st, six months later.
I just watched Bob Woodward on C-Span’s Book TV, pitching State
of Denial

appearance on Book TV was interesting in that it was made
clear up front by the moderator that there would be no audience
Q & A of Bob Woodward, the author of a book the subject of which
is states of denial.

An audience
Q & A following an author’s appearance is a staple of Book

Why no Q &
A this time?

Bob Woodward,
the legendary journalist who brought down a corrupt president by
asking questions, did not want to answer questions.

Why not? Why
did legendary journalist Bob Woodward not want to answer questions?

One possible
answer: Because he was afraid someone might have asked if State
of Denial is about the psychological condition someone might
be living under to think that a president’s collusion in mass
murder is rule breaking.

Another possible
answer: Because he was afraid someone might have asked if something
awful had happened to him.

9, 2006

Weisbecker is a screenwriter, plus the author of a novel, Cosmic
, and two memoirs, In
Search of Captain Zero
and Can’t
You Get Along With Anyone? A Writer’s Memoir
, and a Tale
of a Lost Surfer’s Paradise. Visit his

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