Making Things Up

This is some pretty striking stuff from the president:

President Bush said Thursday that Iran has declared that it wants to be a nuclear power with a weapon to "destroy people," including others in the Middle East, contradicting the judgments of a recent U.S. intelligence estimate.

As the article goes on to point out, Iran has not, in fact, ever declared that it wants to be a nuclear power and a fortiori has never declared an intention to use a nuclear weapon to destroy people. The official line from the NSC spokesman is that "the president shorthanded his answer " with "shorthanded" apparently being a new term meaning "lied." This brings me back to something I wrote in 2006:

Some hawks, like Jeffrey Bell, writing in the February 6 Weekly Standard, have adopted a strategy of simply making things up, like claiming that Ahmadinejad not only “says the Jewish Holocaust never happened” (which he did say) but also “muses about the possibility of correcting that Nazi failure by dropping a nuclear bomb on Israel.” This last seems a highly unlikely statement since Iran officially denies that it has a nuclear program, it's hard to imagine -- and there's no evidence -- that Ahmadinejad ever “mused” about dropping a nuclear bomb on anyone.

Bell later explained to me that he was using "poetic license," which I think is somewhat more elegant than the "shorthanded his answer" formulation. Still, the fundamental point is that some folks would really like people to believe that Iranian leaders are running around saying "let's build a nuclear bomb and drop it on Israel!" even though no leaders are, in fact, saying that. It's really not a small difference.