The New York Times
The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11by Ron Suskind
You may think you know what the "war on terror" is.
But to know it truly, you must read this book.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Ron Suskind takes you deep inside America's real battles with violent, unrelenting terrorists -- a game of kill-or-be-killed, from the Oval Office to the streets of Karachi.
You may think you know what the "war on terror" is.
But to know it truly, you must read this book.
Suskind has written a riveting work of narrative nonfiction, filled with exclusive, historically significant disclosures that will echo across America and the world.
What is the guiding principle of the world's most powerful nation as it searches for enemies at home and abroad? The One Percent Doctrine is the deeply secretive core of America's real playbook: a default strategy, designed by Dick Cheney, that separates America from its moorings, and has driven everything -- from war in Afghanistan to war in Iraq to the global search for jihadists.
The story begins on September 12, 2001, the day America began to gather itself for a response to the unimaginable. Ultimately, that reply would shape the nation's very character.
Suskind tells us what actually occurred over the next three years, from the inside out, by tracing the steps of the key actors -- the notables, from the President and Vice President to George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice, who oversee the "war on terror" and report progress to an anxious nation; and the invisibles, the men and women just below the line of sight, left to improvise plans to defeat a new kind of enemy in an hour-by-hour race against disaster. The internal battles between these two teams -- one, under the hot lights; the other, actually fighting the fight -- reveal everything about what America faces, and what it has done, in this age of terror.
Who is actually running U.S. foreign policy? Is there an operational cell, armed with WMDs, inside the United States? Have some of the world's most dangerous terrorists -- including leaders of al Qaeda -- been caught and accidentally released? Can America prevail in this struggle against enemies who are patient, ingenious, certain, and have clear tactical advantage?
With his unparalleled access to senior officials, past and present, Ron Suskind -- author of The Price of Loyalty, the most revealing book yet written on the Bush administration -- finally answers the questions that keep Americans awake at night.
And in this startling book, he reframes the debates that roil the globe.
The New York Times
The Washington Post
"A must-read bestseller." Frank Rich, The New York Times
"This is an important book, filled with the surest sign of great reporting: the unexpected. It enriches our understanding of even familiar episodes from the Bush administration's war on terror and tells us some jaw-dropping stories we haven't heard before." Barton Gellman, The Washington Post
"A doomsday tale masked as a John le Carré thriller.... Suskind lays out evidence of success, failure, humility and hubris." Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Riveting.... Sheds new light on the Bush White House's strategic thinking and its doctrine of pre-emptive action, but also underscores the roles that personality and ideology played in shaping the administration's decision to go to war in Iraq." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"A richly detailed and layered account.... It makes for deeply unsettling reading and is a major contribution to our national conversation.... [Suskind] is a gifted and enterprising reporter and those attributes inform nearly every part of this important book.... Compelling." Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times
"If Bob Woodward is the chronicler of the Bush administration, Ron Suskind is its analyst.... A page-turning, blow-by-blow, inside-the-administration account.... Historians will be grateful for it as they write the many final drafts in the decades to come." Michael Hill, The Baltimore Sun
"Suskind's great achievement here is to reveal how the Bush administration short-circuited and ultimately corrupted the way America's government is supposed to work." Gary Kamiya, Salon.com
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The One Percent DoctrineDeep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
By Ron Suskind
Simon & SchusterCopyright © 2007 Ron Suskind
All right reserved.
The "what ifs" can kill you.
Something missed. A failure of will. A turn in one direction when the other
way was the right path.
Over time, people tend to get past them. We did what we could, they
say, and move on.
But, in terms of the tragedy of 9/11, a particular regret lingers for those
who might have made a difference.
The alarming August 6, 2001, memo from the CIA to the President -- "Bin
Laden Determined to Strike in US" -- has been widely noted in the past few
But, also in August, CIA analysts flew to Crawford to personally brief the
President -- to intrude on his vacation with face-to-face alerts.
The analytical arm of CIA was in a kind of panic mode at this point. Other
intelligence services, including those from the Arab world, were sounding
an alarm. The arrows were all in the red. They didn't know place or time
of an attack, but something was coming. The President needed to know.
Verbal briefings of George W. Bush are acts of almost inestimable import
in the affairs of the nation -- more so than is the case for other recent
presidents. He's not much of a reader, this President, and never has been,
despite White House efforts to trumpet whichserious books he is reading at
various times. He's not a President who sees much value in hearing from a
wide array of voices -- he has made that clear. His circle of truly trusted
advisers is small -- smaller as President, in many ways, than it was when
he was governor. But he's a very good listener and an extremely visual
listener. He sizes people up swiftly and aptly, watches them carefully, and
trusts his eyes. It is a gift, this nonverbal acuity, that he relies on in
managing the almost overwhelming duties of the presidency: countless
decisions each day, each one important; a daunting array of issues to grasp;
an endless stream of politicized experts and expert politicos, all speaking
in earnest tones. What does George W. Bush do? He makes it personal.
He may not have had a great deal of experience, especially in foreign
affairs, before arriving in the job, but -- because of his trust in these
interpretive abilities -- he doesn't view that as a deficit. The expert,
sitting before him, has done the hard work, the heavy lifting, and the
President tries to gauge how "certain" they are of what they say, even if
the issues may be unfamiliar to him. Do they seem nervous or unsure? Are
they fudging? Why do they think what they do...and what do they think of
him? That last part is very important.
The trap, of course, is that while these tactile, visceral markers can be
crucial -- especially in terms of handling the posturing of top officials --
they sometimes are not. The thing to focus on, at certain moments, is
what someone says, not who is saying it, or how they're
And, at an eyeball-to-eyeball intelligence briefing during this urgent
summer, George W. Bush seems to have made the wrong choice.
He looked hard at the panicked CIA briefer.
"All right," he said. "You've covered your ass, now."
George Tenet and his team had evacuated their offices at CIA headquarters
by midmorning on September 11, 2001, but they didn't get far.
Across a concrete square were vacant offices in the CIA's print shop -- a
nondescript two-story building on the Langley, Virginia, campus that
generates, daily, the output of a dozen Kinkos, including regular, numerous
briefing books over the past year on al Qaeda, or the base. That's
where they fled to -- the place that printed the reports.
Tenet, his deputy John McLaughlin, and a few others crowded into a conference
room, a windowless, white square room, and frantically began to work a bank
of phones, trying to get updates, status reports, anything. It was early,
midday. Facts that would soon be common knowledge -- familiar even to
schoolchildren -- were coming into focus. Where was clear, as was
when and how -- visible to anyone with a television. Why
-- if it was, indeed, the Islamic extremists they suspected -- was the
unanswered question since the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The steady
growth of jihadist terror had produced a rising hum inside the CIA and,
eventually, in other parts of the government. Yet the causes, a clear
strategic understanding of what drove the enemy and what they wanted,
This day brought newfound clarity. At 1:10 p.m., an analyst burst into the
room holding printouts. There were manifests from the four flights, just
sent to him from an official at the Federal Aviation Administration -- an
agency that had spent the nightmare morning locating and grounding hundreds
of planes that were airborne at the moment of the first attack. Sending
passenger lists to CIA for review was among the day's first acts of
"Two names," the analyst said, flattening a page on the table. "These two we
know." Everyone crowded around, looking at the printout for American
Airlines Flight 77, which had left the Pentagon in flames. Staring back were
the names of Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, men who had appeared on
various internal lists as members of al Qaeda. Everyone stared at the names.
Who...was now visible in history's unforgiving light.
"There it is," said Tenet, quietly, a man meeting a recurring nightmare in
daylight. "Confirmation. Oh, Jesus." And then silence. Could have been ten
seconds. Could have been a minute.
Two hours later, Air Force One landed at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska.
A shaken George W. Bush assembled principal advisers for a video conference,
the first high-level meeting since the attacks. Tenet reported the discovery
of known al Qaeda operatives on the manifest of American Airlines Flight 77,
including al-Mihdhar, who, noticed by CIA a year before in Malaysia, had a
valid U.S. visa, and seemed to have slipped into the country unnoticed by
both CIA and FBI. Bush murmured something terse and scolding about
miscommunication between the agency and the bureau, but it was flattened by
the crush of incoming evidence: al Qaeda. The culprit.
Starting points are ever elusive -- when does anything really start in the
ever-repeating human journey? -- but this is as close as we will probably
get. The facts were indisputable. And a war, some sort of war, was bound to
What happened on September 11 was almost matched in importance by what would
happen on September 12.
That was the day America began to gather itself for a response. The reply to
tragedy would, ultimately, shape the nation's character.
Familiar faces guiding the ship of state quickly became vessels of an acute
yearning -- a public prayer that the President, his advisers, and the men
and women atop government would be capable and courageous and sufficient to
the moment. This book is surely about them, carrying new, clarified
renditions of what they did, why they did it; what they've learned, what
But it is also about a community of Americans who, up to now, have remained
largely unseen, the ardent and expert who care not one whit for matters of
presentation, for how best to manage the attentions of an anxious American
public, or the U.S. Congress, or a wary global community.
These men and women -- these invisibles -- are actually fighting the
fight. They have to worry only about the battle against shadowy
global armies bent on destruction, and about winning it. After grand
pronouncements are made describing a new kind of war and the vanquishing of
evil, they are the ones who must then fashion a plan, and figure out where
to turn and what to do when there is no map, no compass, and a darkened
horizon. They report back about how things are really going, and then watch,
often in disbelief, as the public is apprised of progress and the latest
developments. In an age when assertion tends to overwhelm evidence, when
claim so easily trumps fact, they know precisely where the breakpoints lie.
That makes them valuable and dangerous; that makes their silence a priority
to those who must answer to the vox populi, or, eventually, to posterity.
There are optical illusions at work here. The notables -- Bush and
Cheney, Rice and Tenet -- are ever conspicuous, magnified, commanding our
attention. They take credit and, if unavoidable, blame for things they often
had little to do with; they tell us that everything will be fine, or that we
should be very afraid, or both. They exude confidence, a key to modern-day
success, even while they're privately solicitous of those upon whom their
fortunes truly rest: the twenty-something with a flair for Arabic, trolling
Web sites day and night; the agent who figures out how the money flows from
the vitriolic to the truly violent; the spy who identifies a source ready to
talk, and then protects that golden goose at all costs; the paratrooper
wearing night-vision goggles who kicks down the door of an apartment in
For those at the top, the defining posture is relentless impatience:
impatience to justify action and rhetoric and to assuage the guilt that
haunts anyone who was in a position of power before 9/11, and might have
done something differently. For the sleep-starved professionals just beneath
the line of sight -- as invisible, in many ways, as their murderous
opponents -- the basic emotion is suppressed panic; and a willed conviction,
despite contrary evidence, that every problem has a solution.
To understand America's actual response to 9/11, you have to talk to both
groups, and hear them talk to each other, an often tense dialogue between
those who sweat the details and improvise action plans, the doers; and
those -- from the President on down -- who check on progress, present the
results, and are repositories of public faith. The crucial task, for both
sides, is to come up with answers, under pressure that is almost beyond
Grab some shoes and walk in them.
From on high, it's a dance of fitful indirection, furrowed brows, and
passive verbs. Of getting reports on one potential threat after another,
knowing most of them are specious, but not understanding exactly why that is
indisputably so, or what you might be missing, and then calling another
meeting to try to better target your questions. And, along the way, deciding
what people -- busy Americans on the partisan landscape or some congressional
oversight committee -- should know, in an era when political savants contend
that speaking truth in public is a dangerous practice. And then, it's time
for the next briefing, the next conference table and spiderweb chart filled
with hard-to-parse Arab names and gossamer connections. In a quieter time,
Bill Clinton could grouse to Alan Greenspan that his presidential
fortunes -- and those of the country's economy -- would be determined by
judgments from the bond market. Now, they may be determined by whether some
mall security guard in Palo Alto notices that the guy in Neiman Marcus is
wearing an overcoat in the summer and smells like gardenias and is carrying a
funny suitcase; and it will be further determined -- the nation's fate, that
is -- by whether that guard calls the FBI, and whether someone answers, and
whether the call is transferred to somebody else who knows what all that
means, in time.
But, wait, does the FBI even know that the CIA is all but sure that a hundred
or so suitcase nuclear weapons, produced way back when by the Soviets, are
unaccounted for? And that bin Laden, along with the Chechen rebels and a
bunch of terrorist groups you've never heard of, have been actively trying
to get their hands on that kind of a weapon for years? Should they know? Does
it help if FBI knows? -- or, for that matter, the busy pedestrian, who
can be easily frozen by fear into not buying, or doing, or dreaming big, and
if people stop any of those things, en masse, the gears of prosperity and
uplift will start to slow, God forbid. Then again, fear, no doubt has
its place, trumping other emotions, focusing a distracted rabble and
getting them orderly and seeing clearly what their earnest leaders are up
against. Appreciation, especially without too many probing questions, is a
lovely thing. So, at day's end, maybe we'll release a little information,
just a tiny part of this bracing story or that, to let everyone know that
they should be afraid, of course, but not so very much because we -- the duly
elected and our trusted appointees -- are in control of the situation.
And while this is decided, across the conference table sit a group of
unheralded warriors who are trying to pick up your subtly self-interested
line of reasoning. You suspect that they're sizing you up, all the while, and
you're probably right that it's not all that favorably, but they're
sympathetic to your modern-day dilemma, as you are to theirs, especially
because theirs may be the tougher job -- the one upon which everything
From their shoes, you can actually feel the soft turf of a shifting landscape.
Changes with each step. Walk a while, and you begin to know enough to sense
what you don't know, or can't be sure of, as well as the few helpful things
that have been discovered and verified about how the world's terror networks
now operate, and how they are evolving. You know that the enemy is everywhere
and nowhere, crouched, patient and clever, watching how you move so they can
move in the opposite direction, the surprising direction, undetected. You
whipsaw between grudging respect for their methodology and murderous rage --
if you only get your hands on the courier, the cell leader, the top
lieutenant, then they'd know suffering. And tell all. If only. And then you
could sleep, at least that night, because you'd know where to aim the armed
aerial drone or the muscled-up unit with the night-vision goggles -- so much
firepower, built up and ready; so few clues about where to point it. Or so
few good clues, solid clues. Plenty of noise, God knows, leads
galore, piled to the ceiling, and you spend half your life chasing nothing,
garbage. Everything starts to look suspicious: whole groups of people with
their strange tongues and habits and deeply held certainties prompt alarm,
because the ways they move from anger to rage to violence are not so very
clear, and if one out of a hundred, a thousand, makes that jump you're
talking an army -- a vast, invisible army -- un-uniformed and moving freely
through a marketplace where anything can be found and tried -- unbelievably
destructive stuff -- all click and buy, with downloadable manuals. And you
haven't seen your wife, or husband, or kids, or whoever you care about in
weeks, or months; and while you thrash this way and that, everyone you meet,
including your bosses, asks "Are we safe, are we safe yet?" -- even people who
should know better -- while you miss everything: the baby showers, the school
plays, the weddings and funerals. And you look for handles, a framework from
the familiar, to make sense of the solemn insanity of this life, deep inside
the so-called "war on terror," and you realize you're neck-deep in a global
game of Marco Polo, in an ocean-size pool -- but all of it deadly serious,
winner take all. It's terrible in that pool. Especially when it's deathly
quiet -- the way it is in the months after 9/11 -- and no one is answering
when you yell "Marco," and you only feel the occasional whoosh as your
opponent silently passes, and you snap around while images of burning
buildings and exploding planes dance behind your closed eyelids.
Tucked within the colliding perspectives, there were, from the very start, a
few things that were shared. The notables and the invisibles together
embraced a profound sense of urgency. All parties took a vow of sorts on
September 12. As public servants, they solemnly swore to do whatever they
could to confront and defeat al Qaeda and its global network of terrorists
and supporters. They vowed to work each day and every night. They'd press
themselves toward clear-eyed and innovative thinking. They'd stop at nothing.
Just as soon as they figured out where to start.
The preferred analogy inside government for these early days is the Apollo
13 challenge, a reliable standard, as well, of management schools and
motivational speakers. It refers to a particular moment in 1970 when an air
filter on a disabled NASA craft, 200,000 miles from Earth, needed to be built
with whatever the astronauts had on hand. An engineering team in Houston
gathered a sampling of all the loose items aboard the distant spacecraft --
duct tape, hoses, medical equipment -- dumped them on a table, and got to
work. They needed a remedy, a way to attach a square filter into a round
fitting, in a few hours, or the crew would be asphyxiated. The solution also
had to be elegant; it was no good if the crew couldn't manage the
construction. Driving the proceedings is a mantra that has become ubiquitous
since Ron Howard's movie about the mission was released in 1995: "Failure is
not an option."
All this applies nicely to the "war on terror." Decisions made in the wake
of the catastrophe carried the same improvisational and emotional force. That
latter part is easy to forget: the desire to help, in any way possible, was
the first, pure impulse. Agencies of the world's most powerful nation were
impelled to employ whatever they had available to match an unforeseen
mission, a new charge; to find, each of them, a worthwhile avenue for their
institutional might. Sometimes this worked. Often it did not. Paths were set
early, in crisis. Failure -- or even the admission of small defeats or
confusion -- was not an option. The Pentagon had a standing army. CIA, and
its eavesdropping affiliates from the National Security Agency (NSA) on down,
had intelligence -- the night vision to pierce the darkness. Justice had the
rule of law, and FBI an army of domestic agents. Treasury had access to
global financial data...and so forth, building by building, across the
frightened capital. Where each path led, in large measure, would define the
coming four-plus years, where we, as a nation, are now. And where we are
All throughout, however, humming beneath the smooth surface of press releases
and official-speak, has been a rising din of "cognitive dissonance" -- that
evocative term for how collisions of competing ideas create dissonance,
a discomfiting noise that compels the mind to modify existing beliefs or
invent new ones as it searches for quiet. It is that process that so often
drives forward motion in the cacophony of modern life.
The vast federal government, under stress, does not work quite so efficiently
as a single mind. It has protective urges, competing agendas, rules for who
does what and who represents actions to the citizenry, the sovereign, the
bosses; it accomplishes a great deal, yes, but is defined often by its
dysfunctions. And that means it lies and dissembles, hides what it can, and
sometimes acts out of self-preservation, because without your trust it is
nothing but office space.
This has long been the case -- a matter of life force trapped inside
bureaucracies that everyone from Max Weber to Stephen R. Covey has fretted
over -- and maybe that's just something to be accepted, a point of
resignation. Maybe, people don't really want to know about the internal
disputes and roiling uncertainty, the dissonance. Or maybe they don't
want to take on the turmoil and clarity that inhabit those on history's fault
line -- both the notables, who watch each active verb, and their fierce,
frank invisible partners, whom you will now meet in the coming pages -- as,
side by side, they chase shadows on the cave wall of an enemy who is newly
armed with destructive capability and sectarian certainty, and patience, and
clever resolve, and, maybe, tactical advantage.
In sleepier times, you could just go about your life and shrug, and say that
there are mortgages to pay and children to school, sitcoms to watch, and
that, from the start, two centuries ago, even some founding fathers felt the
noisy rabble, beyond the ramparts, couldn't "handle the truth."
But these are not ordinary times. Knowledge, in fact, is power, enough to burn
off fear. And you at least ought to know what the hell's been going on.
It's what Americans do.
Copyright © 2006 by Ron Suskind
Excerpted from The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind Copyright © 2007 by Ron Suskind. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Ron Suskind is the author of the # 1 New York Times bestseller The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed A Hope in the Unseen. He has been senior national affairs reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. Visit the author's website at www.ronsuskind.com.
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This book provides a good look at the thought process going into the Iraq war. It confirms many of the facts brought out in Bob Woodward's books about the Bush administration leading up to and during the Iraq war. It proves that any administration can do anything they want if they are not willing to entertain open dialogue and are willing to twist truths and lie if it will get them where they want to go.
The "One Percent Doctrine" is an excellent read that exposes the intricacies and drama that led up to the current Iraq War, the doctrine used and its flaws, and alternative methods that could have dramatically reduced U.S. and Iraqi casualties, cost, and duration of occupation. Spanning from the beginning of the Bush administration to the quagmire the Iraq War was in during the 2005-2007 counter-insurgency campaign. The book had an air of unease about as the author probed the decisions made by Dick Cheney and his cohorts who essentially ran the administration in the first four years and trumped dissenting opinions about the nature and merits of the Iraq War. Being a conservative myself I have generally agreed with most of the policies in regard to the Iraq War, but this book caused me to shift my position considerably given the flawed logic of some of the top commanders calling the shots. For one the administration based its decisions on the one percent chance of Saddam Hussein possessing nuclear weapons an obviously ridiculous position given the gravity of the undertaking at hand. Secondly, the administration refused to commit the resources to the campaign military experts recommended, both in troops and equipment. The complete decimation of the Baathist regime and Sunni elite is an example of the lack of knowledge and ignorance the politicians in Washington had on the situation in Iraq, its demographics, and infrastructure, and led to terrible bloodshed on all sides. As the reader you are given a backstage pass to some of the most clandestine meetings and dialogue in the run up to the Iraq War in a manner that truly places you into the scene. Some of the iconic chapters within the book are now depicted in the recent film "W" and this book would greatly enhance ones viewing experience. The writing style and deep insight the author and his sources provide to the reader was my favorite aspect of the book and make what can be a quite dry subject entertaining. I disliked nothing within the book, but others for whom this is not as fascinating might find it a bit technical in its analysis. I would recommend this book to all future policy makers in regards to preemptive war in volatile regions as a learning tool and an ominous message as to the value of humility and foresight, both essential qualities as a leader. Students of political science and anyone for which politics, war, and economics, and their connections is a passion should pick this book up for an engrossing albeit frustrating book. I would also watch the film "W" as a companion to the novel, especially to those who just want the generalities of the decisions and some humor as well. Overall a fantastic page turner!!!
For the past couple of years I have spent some time trying to get a peek inside the secretive Bush White house through several popular authors' works on the subject. Ron Suskind's One Percent Doctrine is by far the best, essential work on the topic. Suskind is a facile author who brings you into the processes and meetings with the few inside players who apparently decide what George is going to see and therefore think about pre-ordained policies. The best of the best- a master work that deserves to be a college textbook.
Although it starts out interestingly on a subject of great import to all Americans, it devolves quickly into a poorly written diatribe. I was initially hooked by reading about real people dealinbg with the afermath of 9/11 in what otherwise seemed like a spy novel. By the time it's done, it turns out to be nothing more than another anti-Bush tome. And someone, please, take Mr. Suskind's, commas, away from him. The run-on sentences are not just confusing, but painful to read.
As in his previous book, 'The Price of Loyalty', Suskind surgically locates the tumor that has taken hold of American foreign policy. How can simplicity have become the driving force behind US foreign policymaking? That complex, impactful and highly respected process used to be the preserve of reasoned, fact-based, human-rights oriented statesmanship, admired by our Allies, respected by our adversaries... No longer! The 'one percent solution' says it all.
To say I was disappointed with this book would be an understatement. Suskind 'I'll use his last name since he doesn't respectfully use others' full names either'is obviously anti-President Bush and anti-Iraq, which is okay if that is your view. But to draw attention to your book and miraculously have it a Bestseller, then only talk about President Bush and how unjustified the Iraq war is, was very deceitful. I quite frankly wanted to throw it in the garbage after the first 100 pages, but I was waiting for it to improve. Suskind gets so far off of the supposed topics in this book, he makes reference on page 248 on how the President spends more time with Dr. Rice than he does with his wife. He also demonstrated poor investigation by talking about the Air Force Academy in Denver 'page 314'. Any person with the lowest form of military intelligence is aware the Air Force Academy is located near Colorado Springs, about 75 miles south of Denver. If you want accurate, unbiased information, do not waste your time or money with this 'book.'
With super-empowered individuals, not just nations possibly getting nukes and other really bad stuff, America has to act, not react to threats. That's the change in US doctrine presented by this book. The author outlines this new strategy in light of 9/11 and on-going threats and how the the US government changed in recent years.
I am a Texas resident and have been a straight ticket Republican my entire life. However the rationale of invading Iraq never set right with me. I gave Bush the benefit of the doubt but have been increasingly disappointed as the country has drifted towards Viet Nam Part II. This book was outstanding. I have never been so embarrased at having voted for a politician TWICE as I was after reading this book. We have been so manipulated! The Bush administration has played fast and loose with the truth and deflected responsibility for not only the 9/11 attacks but the inability to find WMD's in Iraq. We have lost personal liberties and have been deluded into believing that we are actually safer now than we were before 9/11. Suskind has done an unbelievable job of documenting all of the above while demonstrating why so many capable officials have left the administration while incompetents like Rumsfeld have stayed on. I look forward to the next book by this outstanding author.
I bought this book after thoroughly enjoying an excerpt of it found in TIME magazine. I was under the impression that this book would be dealing with the hunt for terrorists however, that could be no furthur from the truth. I stopped reading this book 50 pages in. This is a blatant attack on the Bush Administration with such a bias that the truth can not be completely conveyed. It seems very often that Suskind's sources for his various attacks come from individuals who have had a falling out with Bush, Cheyney, or Rumsfeld. Two sides to an argument are never presented and conflicting rationale is found in many spots.
A very revealing and rational discourse about the 'war on terror' is described in Ron Suskind's well-detailed, meticulous effort on the largely secret battle between secret operatives of the CIA, FBI, and other bueracratic entities that go unnoticed: hence, the term 'invisibles' There are long and detailed descriptions of the notables, of course, involved in the early days of Global War on Terror, namely Tenet, Rumsfeld, Rice, Bush, and the nefarious Cheney. What is incredible about this book is that while it degrades the personal leadership of Bush and Cheney and their entire administration, it demonstrates a certain sympathy for the CIA and the invisible men and women fighting in this shadowy world who can't decipher friend from foe. Qaddafi, Musharraf, Crown Prince Abdullah, and the ever clever Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia makes frequent appearances in pursuit of a wraith-like enemy. The question for the invisible men and women of the CIA: do these notables of the Middle East have true intentions of helping us or deceiving us? Those questions may never be answered. Partial insights about the Bush Administration's thinking into Iraq is also explained, although, more from this great reporter could be desirous. Finally, in the book, for every evil member of al-Qaeda or one of its partner organizations caught, there are another ten heads that pop up, like the Greek god Hydra. How long will this largely undefined and chillingly dangerous war last? The answer is to be seen.
Ron Suskind is an experienced American writer who used to be the Wall Street Journal¿s senior national affairs reporter. He has written a very informative account of the US state¿s `war on terror¿. He describes ¿the Cheney Doctrine ¿ where a one percent chance of catastrophe must be treated `as a certainty¿, where firm evidence, of either intent or capability, is too high a threshold where the doctrine is, in essence, prevention based on suspicion.¿ He writes, ¿fear and faith fused in a fact-starved environment.¿ Richard Clarke, Bush¿s counter-terrorism chief, described how Bush ignored the Al Qa¿ida threat before 9/11, even though Al Qa¿ida had killed more Americans than any other adversary in the eight Clinton years. After 9/11, the US aim should have been to decapitate Al Qa¿ida in its Afghan refuge, then withdraw. Yet when US forces cornered Osama bin Laden and his 800 closest followers in the Tora Bora caves, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld rejected the CIA¿s urgent advice to surround Tora Bora. Instead, they let all 800 escape to Pakistan. Why? Incompetence? Or because if they¿d got bin Laden, the overt rationale for their worldwide oil wars would have gone? Suskind shows that the US government knew in early 2005 that Mohammed Siddique Khan, a British citizen, was planning violence in the USA. The FBI warned, ¿this is a very dangerous character. We and the Brits should be all over this guy.¿ The US government put him on their `no-fly¿ list. US officials told British officials all they knew about Khan¿s plans and why they had banned him from flying to the USA. When he arrived at Heathrow in February 2005 to fly to the USA, he was told that he was not allowed to fly, which of course warned him that he was under suspicion. But what happened next? Did MI5 act on the FBI warning? No, they did nothing. Khan¿s name and telephone number had also emerged in the investigation into an earlier plot to bomb London, but MI5 failed to follow up this lead as well. They ignored the FBI¿s warning and failed to put Khan under surveillance. Now aware that he was under suspicion, he kept a very low profile until on 7/7 he led three other murderers into killing 52 Londoners. After the bombings, the Blair government at once lied that the bombings `came out of the blue¿ and that `Everything that could have been done had been done¿. Suskind points out that, as a result of the US-British attack on Iraq, terrorist recruitment is rising across the world. ¿There was, finally, a connection between Iraq and the broader `war on terror¿. It was a catalytic relationship, like gasoline on a fire.¿ In sum, the US state¿s actions ¿give true comfort to our enemies, graced with more recruitment tools than they could have hoped for.¿ Four days before the US election in October 2004, bin Laden made a broadcast which the CIA assessed as `clearly designed to assist the President¿s re-election¿. What does this say about Bush¿s leadership? The British state¿s actions also give comfort to our enemies, witness its failure to keep tabs on Mohammed Siddique Khan. And why does the British state let Saudi Arabia fund madrassas here to recruit yet more jihadist murderers? Suskind rightly says that we should fight the terrorists with justice and morality, but basic competence would be good too.
The book misses the whole point - that it's not a war on terror, but a war of terror. The word terrorism was first invented to describe state terror, and the central fact of it is still state policy working through covert means. Terrorists have been fostered for the purpose of a war pretext. No nation has ever been mad enough to really want to fight the US (except Britain). Now the US war party have run out of ruses to draw nations into wars they can only win, they invent the shadowy 'terrorist menace.' Why were Atta and company trained at US Army bases? Why are the Bush and Bin Laden families buddies? This book won't give you a hint about that. It¿s all war propaganda, the instrument of imperial expansion. But living the lie may bankrupt the USA, and authors like this are opportunists making a quick buck before the ship goes down. They are not doing any of us the service of getting real information out, despite the claim to go ¿deep inside.¿