June 21, 2006

Who Is Worse: The VP or the Puppet?

Ron Suskind's new book has created a flurry of reports about the planned terrorist attacks on the NYC subway and about how al Qaeda had developed "extremely virulent" anthrax. However, it appears that these incidents are merely distractions from the real story about this administration. What does come across in the reviews of this book, is that this administration is extremely dysfunctional not only because of the man who is President, but also because of the Vice-President and the supporting cast that surrounds this administration like a dark and dangerous impending storm.

The case for the Vice President: because as people are starting finally realize, the failures, the extreme paranoia and the blatant disregard for our Constitution are largely on his shoulders. After all, Suskind named his book for Cheney's doctrine: The One Percent Doctrine which stands for the percentage of credibility someone must have about a potential threat before viciously trying to wipe it out. So what do you think would be the level of evidence that would be needed before he would decide that it is justified to use nuclear weapons for a preemptive strike?

The case for the President: because although he is the frontman for this administration, he has abdicated his fiefdom to Cheney. And because he is such a shallow, and deeply flawed human being, he is easily led by his darker partner and enthralled by the evil tools he can play with. After all, the boy who tortured cats now gets to see how these "harsh interrogation methods" work in producing evidence and he feels these methods are an acceptable tactic as it is important for him to not "lose face."

The NY Times writes:

This book augments the portrait of Mr. Bush as an incurious and curiously uninformed executive that Mr. Suskind earlier set out in "The Price of Loyalty" and in a series of magazine articles on the president and key aides. In "The One Percent Doctrine," he writes that Mr. Cheney's nickname inside the C.I.A. was Edgar (as in Edgar Bergen), casting Mr. Bush in the puppet role of Charlie McCarthy, and cites one instance after another in which the president was not fully briefed (or had failed to read the basic paperwork) about a crucial situation.

This administration has taken plausible deniability to a new level, no longer do they have to select a hands-off president with incipient Alzheimer's:

Keeping information away from the president, Mr. Suskind argues, was a calculated White House strategy that gave Mr. Bush "plausible deniability" from Mr. Cheney's point of view, and that perfectly meshed with the commander in chief's own impatience with policy details. Suggesting that Mr. Bush deliberately did not read the full National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was delivered to the White House in the fall of 2002, Mr. Suskind writes: "Keeping certain knowledge from Bush much of it shrouded, as well, by classification meant that the president, whose each word circles the globe, could advance various strategies by saying whatever was needed. He could essentially be 'deniable' about his own statements."

The Washington Post delves into how the President viewed the heady days of finding evidence to go to war.

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

...Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."

Bush is the guy who flatly told the American people, "we do not torture." Perhaps he believed that "harsh interrogation techniques" had nothing to do with "torture?" Or perhaps he just finds it easy to lie?

So what evidence did he use to go to war? The babblings of a lunatic driven even madder as they tried out the new "harsh interrogation methods". And the coerced confession of Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi gained by torture which extracted the tidbit that al Qaeda had been training at a secret camp in Iraq thus tying 9/11 to Saddam, yet which turned out to be fantasy.

Is Cheney's paranoia, power-hunger, and "walk on the dark side" worse than Bush's casual and careless cruelty? For me it's a real toss up. What do you think?

Posted by Mary at June 21, 2006 07:21 AM | US News | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

this is no good...

More Rain on the Way for Flooded Houston Area, Southwest Louisiana

Posted by: gary at June 21, 2006 09:54 PM