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Crowdsourcing vs. Bush administration

Posted by Joshua Glenn  January 23, 2008 01:36 PM

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"President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq," according to a statement coauthored by Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit research organization in Washington, and his colleague Mark Reading-Smith.

That's 935 -- not "over 900" or "about 950" -- false statements. How did the Center for Public Integrity arrive at such a precise figure? Thanks to the False Statements Database, a 380,000-plus-word database -- of transcripts, newspaper articles, books, and government reports -- launched today by the Center. The point of the project, according to Lewis and Reading-Smith, is to allow "the Iraq-related public pronouncements of top Bush administration officials to be tracked on a day-by-day basis against their private assessments and the actual 'ground truth' as it is now known."

Crowdsourcing aficionados, here's your chance to make a difference. Lewis told the New York Times blog The Lede that "social bookmarking tools included in the site, like Diggit and del.icio.us, will enable users to combine their efforts and share their results." Go ahead, search the database.

Mind you, this is a database of "false statements," not "lies." In an email to The Lede, Lewis said: "No one knows what these officials actually believed. And as someone not involved in 'access journalism'here in Washington -- quite the contrary -- I sure as hell don't know what these or any administration's folks actually believe or want to believe."

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1 comments so far...
  1. I AM THE GREAT NIECE OF EVA MORRISON

    Posted by Debra B Smith January 28, 08 09:54 AM
 
About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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