Musing About "Hard Landing" Scenarios
Does Insanity Run in the Hitchens Family?

Ron Suskind's "The One Percent Doctrine"

Ron Suskind (2006), The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies since 9/11 (New York: Simon and Schuster: 0743271092).

The opening of Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine:

Ron Suskind: The "what ifs" can kill you.... [I]n 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 [Bush]--"Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US"--has been widely noted in the past few years. 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.... They didn't know place or time... but something was coming. The President needed to know.

Verbal briefings of George W. Bush are acts of almost inestimable import... more so than... for other recent presidents. He's not much of a reader... never has been... not a President who sees much value in hearing from a wide array of voices.... But he's a very good listener and an extremely visual listener. He sizes people up swiftly and aptly... and trusts his eyes. It is a gift, this nonverbal acuity.... What does George W. Bush do? He makes it personal.... The expert... has done the hard work... [Bush] tries to gauge how "certain" they are of what they say....

The trap, of course, is that while these tactile, visceral markers can be crucial... 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 saying it.

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."

One thing in Suskind's picture is very different from what I hear. Suskind says that Bush has "a gift, this nonverbal acuity." That's not what my sources who have dealt with Bush say. They say, by contrast, that Bush is quite bad at sizing people up--unable to distinguish who is telling him pleasing lies from who is telling him the truth. In fact, uniquely bad. Vastly worse than any previous president in living memory. And stubborn too: once Bush has made a bad decision, he will not even think of reversing it.

What is The One Percent Doctrine about? It is the CIA-view account of the first three years after 9/11. It tells the story of the War on Terror fought by the CIA. It tells the story of the War on Iraq that Cheney and Rumsfeld convinced Bush had to be fought--although it never explains why they thought it had to be fought, and why they thought it had to be fought with too few and the wrong kind of forces. And it tells the story of the War on the CIA waged by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, and Rice--a war that in the book's view has left us far less able to fight the real War on Terror than we should be today.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now.