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Lying Under Oath for Dummies

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Truth can be a cruel mistress. Sometimes a Lorrena Bobbit kind of cruel mistress. As such truth must be treated with both care and suspicion.

I know this runs contrary to what your parents, teachers and ministers may have taught you, that telling the truth is always the right thing to do.

Not so.

You should, of course, always tell any truths that are either harmless which benefits you. That's a no-brainer.

But there are circumstances when telling the truth can get you and/or your friends in a lot of trouble. At times like that it's perfectly logical to do whatever is necessary to avoid telling truth.

That's the purpose of this primer. Think it as, “Truth-telling 2.0 – A Guide For Adults and Public Officials.”

In our nitpicking times you may someday find yourself in legal jeopardy. Say you've done something wrong (as in “illegal”) and you are about to be put oath and asked about it.  You've going to have to swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

But you know that if you live up to that oath there's going to be hell to pay for it. Only a fool would voluntarily step up, tell the truth and himself or herself in jail. (Okay, you may be a crook. But you're no fool.)

 So what to do?

I am happy to report that there are ways out of this jam. But you have to employ them skillfully and without a hint of hesitation or embarrassment.

Under such circumstances, the last thing you want to do is to start coughing up the unvarnished truth. Still, the worst thing you can do though is just cook up a bunch of outright lies. Lies can be disproved with stuff called “evidence.” So you need to avoid concoction lies.

While lying is your only way out, it's how you lie that will make the difference between getting away or getting a bunk above some guy with “Mad Dog” tattooed on his forehead.

There are four basic techniques to address your little problem:

1) Try to avoid taking the oath
Say, Congress wants to question you under oath about something they think you did.

Pretend to be offended by the implication that, unless put under oath, you may lie. (How dare they! etc. etc.)

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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