As One Ponders Suskind's Thesis -- A Few Logical Questions Arise
Too Bad The Media Rarely Ask Them
Suskind writes that in late-September 2003 George Tenet returned from the White House with a written order (on creamy White House stationery) directing him to have some documents forged to mislead the public about past Iraqi connections with terrorism. The order, Suskind says, was illegal and may be an impeachable offense.
Q. Creamy white stationery? Do you really expect us to believe that a top White House official -- would put in writing a directive to break the law and hand it to the CIA and say go do this?
Q. If you believe the White House was reckless enough to do that...do you believe that the CIA would be the organization they'd go to? Think about the time line. In September 2003 the Department of Justice was opening an criminal investigation of the Plame leak case. It was reported during the Libby trial that at this very time many senior White House officials distrusted the CIA believing them to be insufficiently loyal and leakers.
Q. Why would Tenet, of all people go along with this plan? For the past two years he had been fighting Administration officials who wanted to stretch the case on Iraqi-Al Qa'ida connections. Just three months previously, he had to publicly fall on his sword taking blame for his Agency allowing the famous "16 Words" to make it into the President's State of the Union speech. Now he would be authorizing the forging of documents which contradicted what the CIA had been saying on these matters all along?
Q. Suskind repeatedly says in his media appearances that the interviews he conducted (he calls them testimony) prove indisputably that the letter was received from the White House and that various elements of the CIA were tasked to carry out the instructions -- and did. If that is so, why haven't any of the many investigations into the Iraq situation (the Silberman-Robb WMD Commission, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report, CIA's IG, the British Butler Report etc) found any evidence of this? Why haven't any of the hundreds of officials they interviewed (in REAL sworn testimony) ever mentioned anything like this?
Q. In media appearances on August 5, Suskind said that ALL his interviews for the book were on tape. He stressed that the people confirming the Habbush letter story were ON-THE-RECORD. (Although the two named sources seem to dispute this). In subseqent days Suskind's story changed to say MOST of the interviews were on tape...and then MANY of them. Now he says he will release an written excerpt from one tape. Why not release the tapes with the officials saying the exact words in the book about the most serious charges? Suskind puts them in quotation marks...says they were on the record...so he MUST be able to prove it, right? In an interview which aired on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes on Friday August 15, Suskind said that the transcripts of "all" his interviews had been posted on the internet. Oh really? Where are they?
Q. Individuals quoted in the book have not denied having talked to Suskind, they just deny saying the words he concocts for them on this most serious of charges. If they believed they said those words and if they knew they were on tape -- why would they dispute Suskind? So the questions for Suskind are -- where are those exact words --AND -- did you have permission to tape these conversations?
Q. Many people have mentioned that Suskind's book reads like a novel. A lot of the quotes, however, sound TOO good. Will he admit that you take some literary license -- sharpened some of the quotes -- attributed things to one character that might have been said by someone else...or given his own summary of what he THINKS they were trying to say?
Q. How does he explain it when he quotes verbatim what people were thinking? The best example is on page 356 where he quotes what was going through Benazir Bhutto's mind seconds before she was assassinated. How did he get THAT interview?
Q. Suskind says that the denial issued by Rob Richer on August 6 was the result of "acute pressure" from the highest levels of the U.S. government and has told reporters that Richer caved in because he wanted to keep his business (Total Intelligence Solutions) relies on government contracts. Except that Richer retired from that job six months ago. So exactly what contracts is he protecting?
Q. In his book Suskind accuses George Tenet of participating in a crime -- a crime so significant he calls it worse than Watergate and a possible impeachable offense for the President. But he and his publisher recklessly failed to ask Tenet whether the allegation was true before putting the book out. When asked about this seeming major lapse in journalistic ethics -- Suskind blows it off by saying Tenet's memory is bad and besides he confirmed it with the people directly involved around him. Except that the two people he quotes deny knowing anything about Tenet's involvement in any such effort.