Why We Don’t Get—and Don’t Want to Hear—the Truth

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Gary Sick was the National Security Council liaison to President Carter during Carter’s 1980 negotiations with Hezbollah over the 52 American hostages held by Iran.

Sick later investigated the claim that Reagan-Bush campaign chief William Casey had essentially committed treason so their team could win the election.

Gary Sick

Gary Sick

Sick looked into allegations that Casey had secretly met with members of Hezbollah and had struck a deal with them, promising that if Reagan-Bush defeated Carter, they would provide TOW missiles and other military aid to Hezbollah. In return, Hezbollah would see to it that the American hostages were held in captivity until after the 1980 presidential election, to weaken Jimmy Carter in the eyes of the American voters.

In fact, those hostages were held, and released right after Reagan and Bush took office. And Iran got weapons via the illegal Iran-Contra operation.

In his book October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan, Sick pondered why this ghastly scenario was summarily ignored by the media and the Washington establishment. Here’s an excerpt of the key passages:

We in Washington are accustomed to the petty scandals of Washington politics. However, there is another category of offenses, described by the French poet Andre Chenier as “les crimes puissants qui font trembler les lois,” crimes so great that they make the laws themselves tremble.

We know what to do with someone caught misappropriating funds. But, when we are confronted with evidence of a systematic attempt to undermine the very political system itself, we recoil in a general failure of imagination and nerve.

We know that certain individuals and certain groups covet such immense power for either personal or ideological reasons. But we somehow suppose that those ambitions will be pursued within the confines of our laws and within the confines of the values of our society and our democratic political system. . . .

[I]f those who operate politically beyond the law are deft enough and determined enough, they can learn to benefit from our often false sense of confidence in this regard. For there is a natural presumption on the part of those of us who deem ourselves to be politically sophisticated that “no one would actually dare to do such a thing.”

Most mere observers are, therefore, very much disposed toward misbelief and are, therefore, willing to disregard evidence that is directly presented to them—and even to construct alternative explanations for events that seem just too distasteful to want to believe. This all-too-human propensity provides just the margin of safety that is needed by those who would dare to under­ take what would otherwise be regarded as just too immensely a risky undertaking to attempt.

For example, when the Iran-Contra scandal exploded in 1986, both the Congress and the national mainstream media pulled up short. . . . The laws trembled at the prospect of a political trial that threatened to shatter the compact of trust between the rulers and the ruled, a compact that was the foundation upon which the very law itself rested.

The lesson was clear: accountability declines as the magnitude of the crime and the power of those charged increase.

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31 responses to “Why We Don’t Get—and Don’t Want to Hear—the Truth”

  1. […] 87 From Russ Baker’s article “Why We Don’t Get—And Don’t Want to Hear—the Truth,” April 4, 2014, https://whowhatwhy.org/2014/04/04/dont-get-dont-want-hear-truth. […]

  2. […] 87 From Russ Baker’s article “Why We Don’t Get—And Don’t Want to Hear—the Truth,” April 4, 2014, https://whowhatwhy.org/2014/04/04/dont-get-dont-want-hear-truth. […]

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  6. rockin2012 says:

    I moved to Ecuador and am AWARE bought Dinar & Dong also because I am Smart I AM LOVE , LIGHT & TRUTH

  7. Torstentopp says:

    I an ordinary day of working people almost all the time is spent on other things than social affairs, work, kids, buying groceries and so on. There is no time. If people only had the time things might be different. When there is limited time, and the establishment has a one way communication channel straight into the heart of your home – television, people believe what they are told. Also, a lot of time is spent on distractions – sports, soap operas, we have a culture that encourage apathy.
    I might be true, that people are honestly not interested, Already Cicero in ancient Rome said that people was just interested in gossip. But I will postpone that conclusion – for now….

  8. BB says:

    William Casey, named as a conspirator in this rotten piece of treachery,
    famously declared, “We’ll know our disinformation is complete when everything the American people believe is false.” And Hitler was reputed to have said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” The obvious irony of this is that it’s not clear that Hitler actually wrote or said that. It’s a puzzlement.

    • What Hitler did write, in chapter 10 of Mein Kampf, is the description of the Große Lüge, the Big Lie, as described here http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie

      What I was hoping to see in this article, as I truly believe to be the case, is current evidence that Daniel Pipes was wrong in his Cavalier dismissal of Gary Sick’s writing on the subject.

      As long as those supposed refutations are out there, we will have to contend with them. But seeing this article appear here makes me anxious to look carefully through Barbara Honneger’s work on the subject.

    • Wikipedia has this, which puts Pipes’ quibble in a cocked hat:

      “Newsweek journalist Craig Unger warned prior to publication that the conference records had been misread and did not prove Casey could not have been in Madrid. He later said “They told me, essentially, to fuck off. It was the most dishonest thing that I’ve been through in my life in journalism.”[18] PBS’ Frontline soon discovered the misreading, but its reporting of this received little attention, and the Nightline producer who had arranged the Hashimi interview soon lost her job.[18] Robert Parry, who led the Frontline investigation, later wrote that “The impact of those two magazine stories cannot be overstated. They convinced most of the Washington news media and many members of Congress that the longstanding suspicions of Casey’s skulduggery were false. A kind of debunking hysteria followed, with other publications joining in a stampede that trampled any careful examination of the October Surprise facts.”
      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Surprise_conspiracy_theory

  9. Nigel Westwood says:

    Great article.when I have a bit more cash to spare I will contribute to the site.great job.

  10. Samantha says:

    I don’t like the title of this one. I read alternative news sites like whowhatwhy.com because I DO want to hear the truth.
    I want to know the truth so I can understand whats likely to happen in the future and prepare for it.
    There is a lot of evidence to support the notion that the US government was taken over by people with contempt for laws and the public. Many past actions of the USg make a lot more sense after you take that notion on board.
    Chris Martenson had intelligent things to say about future risks and the merits of planning for them (or not). But if you watch Faux News and trust government spokespeople your plans will be useless at best.
    It would be nice to hear more truth, followed by ‘action items’ that readers could follow up on to DO something about the situation.
    Unfortunately, many individuals who report the truth seem to die earlier than people who don’t report the truth. I hope the staff at whowhatwhy.com takes reasonable precautions on that front.

  11. ICFubar says:

    Familiarity breeds contempt. Those of the inter generational upper class, stalking the halls of power generation after generation, take their wealth and privilege and the power they wield for their own benefit as a God given grant to orchestrate events as they see fit. The “little people” are of no account whatsoever, other than their usefulness in following orders. It is only when the masses rise up that the elites trot forth a figure to ameliorate those concerns when all the while it’s business as usual. Only when revolution wipes the slate clean is there the chance to erect a new paradigm. The question is how to make these ruling elites feel the law, which they usually construct, in their bones. Perhaps wealth above a certain level should not be allowed, to save us from ourselves and for the sake of society and civilization as a whole.

    • Walking Turtle says:

      “Only when revolution wipes the slate clean is there the chance to erect a new paradigm.”

      That revolution is ON us NOW. Only not as most might likely imagine. It is a revolution of Right and Reality over State-sponsored crime and media-driven make-believe.

      It has a name. Its name is “Common Law”.

      Fact: When the Declaration of Independence was made, the King’s Justice was taken-up by “We the People” – iow, the Rest of Us. The right to form Lawful courts of inquiry and trial, to investigate allegations and crimes committed, to try the cases of and pass sentence on the perpetrators ALL devolved to the Rest of Us.

      This reality was resoundingly affirmed by Chief Justice Scalia in US vs. Williams in 2006. Writing for the 6-to-3 majority, Mr. Scalia confirmed that the American grand jury is neither part of the judicial, executive nor legislative branches of government, but instead belongs to the people. It is in effect a fourth branch of government “governed” and administered to directly by and on behalf of the American people, and its authority emanates from the Bill of Rights.

      Bottom Line: WE are the Rescuers we have been WAITING FOR. Our Lawful remedies against the money-motivated vultures and hyenas of this life were NEVER actually removed by those who hate our natural freedoms and seek to exploit our kindness as a weakness. Our common-law rights were merely media-decried and babble-yammered away from us for fifty or sixty tortuous years by, shall we call ’em, “Our Esteemed Phan Klub”. But even the commercial code that the Dominant Culture embraces affirms that NO part of THAT body of statutes is EVER to override or nullify ANY portion of Common Law.

      Cite: http://nationallibertyalliance.org is THE place to be – IF one seeks to DO the RIGHT THING with all this newfangled Ancient Law Stuff instead of remaining a part of the Seruious Problem outlined tyen bindillion times over on the Web, already.

      So let’s get it ON. And that is all. 0{;-)o[

  12. sfulmer says:

    Hold on. There is an enormous hole in this quote by Gary Sick. Saying that “certain individuals and certain groups covet such immense power for either personal or ideological reasons” makes it sound like residuals of normally distributed sociological data. In fact, in America, “les crimes puissants qui font tremble les lois” are committed for Rightist ideological reasons, and it’s the intelligentsia of the Left that fears most to look at it. Furthermore, resources are given to keep the Left from looking at it because that would be a critical mass of awakened, responsible, and reactive brains. Not only do the manipulators benefit from our false sense of confidence, they do much to condition it in the first place.

    And that is why the 11/22 coup is so important. Iran/Contra was post coup conditioning. What did Gary Sick say about the Warren Commission?

  13. dave john says:

    Prof Bob Altemeyer’s research on authoritarian followers suggests 25-30% of people will consistently believe anything their particular leader says. Machiavellian leaders, of course, know this only too well, and pull stunts like those in this interesting article. Didn’t Hitler say it was easier to tell a big lie than a small lie, for ordinary people couldn’t get their heads around the really serious nastiness?

    • Orangutan. says:

      “The great masses of the people . . .will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.” — Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

      “The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.” — J. Edgar Hoover, former FBI director

      “Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity.” — Marshall McLuhan

  14. Kurt P says:

    The actions we would be forced to take – should we accept a ‘truth’ en masse – are more frightening than the consequences of living with the ‘UNtruth’.

    …until they aren’t.

    • Dick Lancaster says:

      Too bad you use a pseudonym. Your quote will become classic. Or is it already?

    • Tressell says:

      EXCELLENT QUOTE Kurt P, I will remember that, that is a life changing quote. You should put it in every site you can to help the world. I will certainly be passing it on.
      Another quote I personally love is by Tony Benn RIP (the greatest prime minister britain never had)
      “what power do you have?
      in whose interests do you exercise it?
      To whom are you accountable?
      And, how can we get rid of you?
      Anyone who cannot answer the last of these questions does not live in a democracy “

  15. IMPOed says:

    Nothings changed then,,,,,

  16. Orangutan. says:

    Great article and great topic. Some people refer to the concept as cognitive dissonance and I agree that it plays a huge role in our society. Looking back at the Asch Conformity experiments, Stanford Prison Experiment, Stanley Milgram studies, and Stockholm Syndrome is enlightening as well as to the weaknesses of human nature and psychology.

    http://www.corbettreport.com/confronting-cognitive-dissonance/

    Rep. Jim McDermott explains the phenomenon a bit here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng9SEB7N-yc

    Examples of this phenomenon in action:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ6P6IcNKds

    Election fraud, political assassinations, foreign policy tactics, etc are all effected by this mental desire to avoid uncomfortable and disturbing topics.