Some distortions are so massive and so deliberate as to constitute outright lies. See if you can spot the dishonesty in this line in President Bush's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars' national convention today:
U.S. forces have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists and other extremists every month since January.
That "and other extremists" line sure does a lot of work here. No order of battle for the insurgency is available, but all credible estimates peg al-Qaeda in Iraq as by far the smallest contingent. One rough assessment, cited
byThe New York Times
last month, put AQI at possessing perhaps 5,000 fighters. Yet Bush suggested this morning that the U.S. has captured as many as 12,000 members of AQI so far this year.
Since the surge began, the U.S. has had between 17,000 and 23,000 Iraqis in custody each month, according to the Brookings Institution's Iraq Index
(pdf). Last month, Ned Parker of the Los Angeles Times
reported that of the 19,000 detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq, only 135
were foreigners -- the most likely indicator of membership in al-Qaeda. Military and intelligence veterans of the Iraq war typically say that determining Iraqi
membership in AQI is extraordinarily difficult, and not something that lends itself particularly well to flat, quantitative statements.
No wonder the president picked the artful qualifier "and other extremists" to lard his presentation of who the U.S. is capturing in Iraq. It's impossible to disprove the statement, since it conceals precisely how many of the 1,500 monthly captures are in fact AQI. But an inability to disprove a statement doesn't ever make that statement true -- rather, that makes it gibberish.