But where, pray tell is the truth hiding?  Day in and day out we are bombarded with half-truths, lies, statistics, promises by politicians, and of course, the happy talk on Facebook.

The thoughts outlined in this piece were triggered by my appearance on CNN on February 10th, 2018 where the topic was espionage (surprise!).  On February 9th there had appeared a rather lengthy article in the New York Times with the following key points:

  • Russian operative approaches US intelligence and offers cyber war tools that were stolen from the NSA as well as compromising material on President Trump for a payment of $1 million (initial asking price: $10 million).
  • American intelligence wants to buy back hacking tools but says “no thanks” to the Trump stuff.
  • An initial payment of $100,000 is made, but the Russian only delivers some murky video that shows a shadowy figure in a hotel room talking to two women.
  • After back and forth negotiations, the CIA decides that the Russian was fake and chase him out of Western Europe

That was the true(?) premise of the CNN segment.  I knew that the article had at least one kink in it as the author and his editor betrayed blatant ignorance of what a cyber weapon is.  With minor exceptions, hacking tools are software, that once stolen cannot be recovered, since it can be copied or recreated.  Yet the author indicated that US intelligence was desperate to recover the stolen weapons (here is the telling quote: “…. and the agency was struggling to get a full inventory of what was missing.”).

Since I was brought on the show as an espionage “expert” I decided not to attack the credibility of the Times based on the displayed ignorance regarding cyber space.  So, I gave my comments with the caveat “Assuming this article is correct….”.

Of course, in a court of law, once a statement concerning a material fact is proven false, the entire testimony of a witness loses credibility.  So, it is not a surprise that just about at the same time, but too late to be included in the news program, the CIA issued a denial claiming that the story was “patently wrong”, which in turn prompted a rebuttal by the author on twitter.

Summary:  There was a suspect article by “the paper of record” describing the action of a phony Russian with phony stuff for sale, which according to the CIA (who MUST use lies and deception as part of its operating procedure) was phony.  And so, the whole segment on CNN was mired in phoniness in which I was a guilty participant.   It is almost impossible nowadays not to get caught in the phoniness that pervades our society.

Most of us agree that there is much Fake News produced on a daily basis.  Where we disagree is who the fakers are.  Well, let’s face it and be honest, it is quite clear – the fakers are ourselves.  If you visit the “temple” called Facebook, you find happiness all around.  If you visit a hospital, a homeless shelter, a church or even better an impoverished country, there is brokenness everywhere.  We citizens of the Western World have perfected the art of lying to ourselves and lying to others.  And now we are surprised when we are bombarded with fake news?  “You hypocrite, first remove the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”.  That quote from the Bible (Matthew 7:3-5) is just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago when it was written.

When I studied hard how to impersonate an American, I frequently encountered the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses”.  This phrase is hardly in use nowadays, probably because we do not have a need for it anymore as we have completely internalized its meaning.  Whether it is in our private life, on the job or in the political realm, we all seem to feel the need to compete for the Crown of Nirvana which glitters with the gems of Happiness, Wisdom, Beauty, Athleticism, and Sovereignty.   Alas, that crown is, of course, fake, and when we put it on, it brings us nothing but misery.

Can we fix this?  Can Western Society turn around and squarely face the truth for what it is?  Oh, the truth is ugly, and we so clamor for beauty – but the ugly truth will indeed set us free, free from our own lies and self-deception, and free to reject the lies that are emanating from outside of us.  I should know something about this – I lived a lie, but I did make that 180-degree turn, and I am free to tell the truth, at least as it relates to my own life.

About 3,000 years ago Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the 10 Commandments.  Whether you believe they came from God Himself or not (I do), take a closer look.  “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (i.e. do not lie).  Perhaps the only way for us to escape the twilight zone we are in today is to go back to the basics.


Published on February 12, 2018 at jackbarsky.com


    • Well, you will never know 100% when somebody is telling the truth. God made the world highly complicated, and we often stumble around in the hope not to get lost altogether. But when it comes the the ordinary liar, of whom we find quite a few in public life nowadays, just educate yourself and compare what they say with a) what they have said in the past (they often contradict themselves – consistent lying requires an excellent memory – up until the moment I came out in public I always had to remember who I told what) and b) what you know to be facts. Not 100%, but I will gladly settle for 90%. jb

  1. I read the article a few days ago, and the “buying back hacking tools” immediately catched my eye. Who puts such a no-brainer error on-line? I believe that the problem is the devaluation of words. Where are the days that any decent article required thorough work by a reporter, checked before publishing. Of course, he had to deliver good work, as it took quite an effort to produce, print and distribute it all. The price per word was high. These days, it seems as if everyone is a reporter, anyone can publish whatever and distribute it on a huge scale on websites and all kinds of a-social media. The price per word has dropped almost to zero.

    On-line news papers often suffer from cut-and-past whatever has a catchy headline. Add that many don’t understand the difference between writing an opinion, an idea or facts, and you get the diminishing – or oppression if you like – of good reporters that matches the extinction of the dinosaurs. All hail to the Fake News.

    Call me old school, but I think it would be wise to return to reading books and learn history to get a balanced opinion of today’s news, before reading flash-bang social media news. For many, it may require explaining what a book is.

    • As usual, you are right on the money. I think one of the greatest weaknesses of Western society is that we have become intellectually lazy (of course, not all of us). We prefer being entertained to the strain of producing independent thought. jb

      • The sheer mass of news causes a kind of fatigue that affects our critical reading. Nevertheless, it’s always one’s own responsibility to read critically before boasting around conclusions, based on nonsense. That’s not easy. Truth and values are verbs that require effort. Life has become so “easy & lazy” and diligence seems out of fashion, but does it make us happier in the end? Or smarter?

        • Part of what makes us human is our individuality. If we stop thinking for ourselves, we lose that and might as well turn into an army of intelligent clones, such as portrayed in Star Wars. Good night mankind!

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