Iran-Contra Figures' 'Doublespeak' Cited

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For their testimony before the Congressional committees investigating the Iran-Contra affair, Marine Lieut. Col. Oliver North and Rear Adm. John Poindexter have won the 1987 "doublespeak" award from the National Council of Teachers of English.

William C. Lutz, chairman of the council's committee on public doublespeak, said Colonel North was cited for saying "that he 'cleaned things up,' he was 'cleaning up the historical record,' he 'fixed' things up, and that he 'took steps to ensure' that things never 'came out,' meaning he lied, destroyed official government documents, and created false documents."

"In Poindexter's world," Mr. Lutz said, "one can 'acquiesce' in a shipment of weapons while at the same time not authorize the shipment. One can transfer millions of dollars of government money as a 'technical implementation' without making a 'substantive decision."'

The award, announced at the ncte's annual meeting in Los Angeles, is given annually to call attention to deceptive language by public officials.

The name of the award alludes to a characterization of the practice in George Orwell's novel, 1984.

Second place in this year's competition went to President Reagan, for a series of statements he made regarding the sale of arms to Iran and aid to the Nicaraguan Contras.

Third place went jointly to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State, for calling a new doctrine of war "Low-Intensity Conflict."

In related action, the committee named the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist Noam Chomsky as winner of the annual Orwell Award for distinguished contribution to honesty and clarity in language.--rr

Vol. 07, Issue 13

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