Airbrushing History -- American Style by Scott Althaus and Kalev Leetaru. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
AIRBRUSHING HISTORY, AMERICAN STYLE
Legacies are in the air as President Bush prepares to leave the White House. How future historians will judge the president remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: future historians won't have all the facts needed to make that judgment. One legacy at risk of being forgotten is the way the Bush White House has quietly deleted or modified key documents in the public record that are maintained under its direct control.
Remember the "Coalition of the Willing" that sided with the United States during the 2003 invasion of Iraq? If you search the White House web site today you'll find a press release dated March 27, 2003 listing 49 countries forming the coalition. A key piece of evidence in the historical record, but also a troubling one. It is an impostor.
And although there were only 45 coalition members on the eve of the Iraq invasion, later deletions and revisions to key documents make it seem that there were always 49.
The Bush White House seems to have systematically airbrushed parts of the official record regarding its own history. How extensively White House documents have been rewritten is anyone's guess, but in the case of the coalition list, the evidence is clear that extensive revision of the historical record has occurred.
I remember reading about this a few weeks ago (end of November) and I thought, hm. interesting, but, this isn't the first time this has happened.
There was a fairly well-documented instance back when Enron was crashing, where the bio for the Honorable Thomas E. White, Secretary of
the Army, was revised to elide a couple paragraphs about all the wonderful things he had done at Enron to "From 1990 to 2001, Mr. White was employed by Enron Corporation and held various senior executive positions."
Seems folks would learn that you can't change history in these days of archives without someone poking around and finding out, but ... no.
As always, these little glimmers of change are brought to you thanks to Brewster Kahle, whose Internet Archive not only stashes away the original of versions later changed, but also offers up such gems as
The Grateful Dead Live at Winterland 17 Jun 1975
Warren Zevon Live at The Main Point 20 Jun 1976
Betty Boop Betty Boop for President -- 1932
India Travel film, India (c1930)
San Francisco San Francisco (1939) from the Prelinger Archives