From a Reader – July 1, 2006
A reader comments on Ron Suskind's book 'The One-Percent Doctrine':
Perhaps the most revealing moment in Suskind's book is a brief vignette that captures the quintessence of Bush's callous disregard for the American people – and the Regime's strange, preternatural calm in the face of imminent attack. In August 2001, while Bush dawdled on his Texas dude ranch, the entire national security system was, in Tenet's words, "blinking red" in expectation of a major terrorist strike; indeed, Tenet later said that the threat was so imminent that his "hair was on fire."
On Aug. 6, a CIA official brought the infamous "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" memo to Crawford, to read it out personally to the President and make sure he got the warning. Bush sat in silence as the briefer delivered his fell message. Duty done, the agent awaited the president's orders, or the president's guidance, or the president's questions. He got nothing but a curt, snide dismissal: "All right, you've covered your ass now."
That was it. Bush had nothing else to say about this stark threat of impending slaughter. He had no questions, no advice; the "Commander-in-Chief" had no commands. Just smirking contempt. "You've covered your ass." You've gone through the motions, you've played your part in the charade, just like me – now get lost.
Even if you give Bush every benefit of the doubt here, even if you put the most charitable construction possible on his behavior – although his proven record of duplicity and malevolence deserves no such charity – even with all this, the very best you could say of his reaction is that it represents a blood-curdling degree of depraved indifference and criminal negligence, worthy of Nero."
Ah, but's that's not all:
"Suskind's book is full of chilling passages – such as the vicious and pointless tortures inflicted, at Bush's explicit suggestion, on a mentally ill al Qaeda flunky whom the Regime had, with knowing deceit, declared a top terrorist operative. When Abu Zubaydah was seized in Pakistan in March 2002, the White House trumpted it as a "major victory" in the War on Terror. Bush declared that Zubaydah was one of al Qaeda's "top operatives," a mastermind "plotting death and destruction to the United States." Bushist minions – and the ever-credulous press – identified Zubaydah as "chief of operations" for the terrorist organization, even "bin Laden's potential heir," as Kurt Nimmo notes.
All of this was a lie. As interrogators quickly realized, Zubaydah was a lowly factotum – "al Qaeda's travel agent" – who helped arrange journeys for the group's members and families, and picked up people at the airport. He was also certifiably insane, suffering from a serious multiple personality disorder, displayed in the years of obsessively detailed diaries Zubaydah kept on his various fractured selves. He was virtually worthless as an intelligence asset.
But the White House wouldn't accept this; they set out to "create their own reality." Told that Zubaydah had revealed nothing of value under ordinary interrogation, Bush first whined to CIA boss George Tenet – "You're not gonna make me lose face on this, are ya?" – then pointedly asked: "So, do these harsh techniques work?" He was referring to the "torture memos" drawn up at his order in 2002 by the White House legal team: Machiavellian documents which declared that anything less than deliberate murder or permanent maiming should no longer regarded as torture.
Bush's sinister nod and wink were clearly understood. The wretched Zubaydah was then subjected to a series of tortures. As Suskind writes, he "was water-hooded, a technique in which a captive's face is covered with a towel as water is poured atop, creating the senstation of drowning. He was beaten. He was repeatedly threatned with and made certain of his impending death. His medication was withheld. He was bombarded with deafening, continuing noise and harsh lights." His broken mind snapped completely. He began spewing out whatever his tormentors wanted to hear: fantastic tales of plots targeting "shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, public water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty" – meat for countless "terror alerts" whenever the political situation called for a nice, juicy scare to goose the rubes."
Just kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and patriotic all over doesn't it?
Happy Fourth of July.
Last updated 04/07/2006