Odious Governments...
Judd Gregg Tries to Revive Gramm-Rudman

The Cheney Supremacy

Dan Froomkin on The Cheney Supremacy:

The Cheney Supremacy: By Dan Froomkin: [T]he longer-term significance of [Ron] Suskind's new book... how it documents Vice President Cheney's singularly dominant role in the foreign policy and national security decisions typically attributed to President Bush.

Where other journalists smarmily imply that Cheney is in charge, or credulously relate White House assurances that he's not, Suskind appears to have gotten people with first-hand experience to actually describe how Cheney operates -- and what he has wrought.... Writes Suskind on his Web site:

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.

Time magazine this week is running an excerpt from Suskind's book. In an introduction, Time writes:

Two months had passed since 9/11, and at the highest levels of government, officials were worrying about a second wave of attacks. CIA Director George Tenet was briefing Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in the White House Situation Room on the agency's latest concern: intelligence reports suggesting that Osama bin Laden and his No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had met with a radical Pakistani nuclear scientist around a campfire in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Absorbing the possibility that al-Qaeda was trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, Cheney remarked that America had to deal with a new type of threat -- what he called a 'low-probability, high-impact event' -- and the U.S. had to do it 'in a way we haven't yet defined,' writes author Ron Suskind in his new book, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11.

And then Cheney defined it: 'If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis.... It's about our response.' Suskind writes, 'So, now spoken, it stood: a standard of action that would frame events and responses from the Administration for years to come.'

In an appearance on NBC's Today Show this morning, Suskind had this to say about the "one percent doctrine" -- which he also calls the "Cheney doctrine": "What it does is it embraces suspicions as a threshold for action."...

[H]ere's another telling scene: When Tenet and some of his briefers initially headed over to the White House to tell Bush about the new threat, Tenet has to go first, to "prebrief Bush for four or five minutes," which Suskind writes is "common practice" so that "Bush could be authoritative and updated when others arrived."

This is Suskind's second major book-length contribution to understanding the Bush White House. His first... "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill."... Its two main themes: 1) That the president was disengaged ("like a blind man in a room full of deaf people") and managed by his staff (encircled by "a Praetorian guard"); and 2) That the White House was intent on overthrowing Saddam Hussein long before 9/11 ("It was all about finding a way to do it.") Both of those points slowly but surely made their way to becoming conventional wisdom in Washington.

Dan Froomkin on Tony Snow talking to Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: The Washington Post published a fascinating cable today, a report written by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to the State Department -- it was signed by Ambassador Khalilzad -- in which it painted a very, very grim -- you read this cable.

SNOW: Yes.

BLITZER: ...Let me just read a line for you. 'Beginning in March and picking up in mid-May, Iraqi staff in the public affairs section have complained that Islamists and/or militia groups have been negatively affecting their daily routine,' and it goes on to the harassment and the threats and the killings that have been going on. It's a pretty damning indictment of the current situation.

SNOW: No, it's actually a reflection of the realities there. And....

BLITZER: And the reality is gloomy.

SNOW: Well, that's taken in mid-May.

Snow thinks things have gotten better in the past month?

Dan Froomkin on Tony Snow II:

One of my readers, Derek Todd, recently pointed out that Snow complains about negative coverage in Iraq -- except when he complains there isn't enough.

Case in point: Snow's June 8 briefing. First came the standard line: "We have been crushing the opposition, but what happens is the opposition has been controlling the airwaves with scattered, fragmentary acts of violence."

But then came reversal: "Now, I think it's important for the American people to understand the nature of what's going on in Iraq, which is -- this gives us a chance to illustrate it -- nobody carried a big story over the weekend about the fact that Zarqawi's people had deposited eight or nine heads in a box -- I say eight or nine because the press accounts vary. That's grotesque. It had enormous effect there, didn't get reported here."

Says Todd, my reader: "You guys can't win." No kidding.