The second greatest lie, after a declaration of having read all of the terms and conditions, is “tell me the truth.” Frankly, to quote Colonel Jessup, we can’t handle the truth. History shows us time and again of leaders who do not want to hear contrary information. Whether explicitly or implicitly directed, the leader’s inner circle filter out any news that is in fact contrary to the leader’s desired “truth.”
The ethical quandary becomes ‘does duty encompass telling what is factual, or in interpreting facts such that truth resembles an unsolved Rubik’s Cube?’
Why, you say, duty is to tell what is factual. We’re Americans. This is what we do!
Have you consulted Cassandra lately? I am reminded of her fate, having spoken truth to King Priam; and its comparison in the conversation held between Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of St. John, verses 37 and 38 of Chapter 18. “What is truth?” indeed.
In a Progressive, post-post-modern age, truth isn’t based on fact, but is wholly the province of interpretive gifts: abilities of esoteric, occult powers to create truth from what one feels ought to be the truth. This protects one’s feelings, especially the feeling that one is right as one’s own Definer of Good. Especially protected are the feelings of the leader, who also has coercive powers to punish fact-based truth tellers.
Given that military officers take as a given that their own death in combat is just business, shouldn’t the death of their careers for telling fact-based truth be just a matter of course?
Here is duty: the POTUS, regardless of party, philosophy, or personal desires, must hear fact-truth. He can not make a decision on falsehoods. He can not act, in his role as POTUS, without knowing what is true and what is not. For military officers, facts are absolute, and magical thinking should be considered the highest form of treason.
Those who accuse Bush-43 of invading Iraq based on bad intelligence and magical thinking should be equally appalled at the absence of facts guiding current Mideast decisions. Now that precedent is set, we are rapidly blundering into more war.