Secrecy and lies in the service of a higher good -- it has a Marxist, a fascist, a theocratic sound. Little by little, under the guise of "national security" -- since the birth of the republic, always the greatest threat to American values -- Cheney and his blustering, deeply devout accomplice have steered America away from its priceless legacy as a land governed by laws, debate and transparency, and toward something none of us would want to recognize.As a bonus, some additional quotes:
While there is no danger that America will become a fascist, totalitarian or theocratic state, every step we take in that direction is a degradation and a danger. Yet somehow, it seems to be considered bad form to bring the subject up.
We are in a peculiar moment, one in which our politicians seem unable to articulate or even grasp the train wreck unfolding in front of them. Someday in the future, if the Democratic Party manages to transform itself from a cowering shadow to something approaching sentience, perhaps what really happened during the Bush era will be publicly debated.
Perhaps then we can ask how it happened that the government of the United States was hijacked by a bullying, fact-averse religious fanatic and his puppetmaster, an evil courtier out of Shakespeare. How we were plunged into a disastrous war simply because a cabal of ideologues and right-wing zealots, operating in autocratic secrecy, decided they wanted war. And how all of the normal workings of a democratic government -- objective analysis, checks and balances, transparency -- were simply trashed by an administration waving the bloody shirt of "terror."
Suskind's coup de grâce on this subject is his reminder of Osama bin Laden's message to the American people just before the 2004 elections. The CIA's consensus: "bin Laden's message was clearly designed to assist the President's reelection ... On that score, any number of NSC principals could tell you something so dizzying that not even they will touch it: that Bush's ratings track with bin Laden's ratings in the Arab world." When Bush speaks, bin Laden's popularity soars -- and vice versa.But this single quote encapsulates so much of what is wrong with the world today:
Suskind opens the book with a damning scene in which a CIA analyst warns Bush in August 2001 that bin Laden was planning to strike the U.S. Bush's response: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."We know that the US government was getting all sorts of "chatter" about the risks of terrorism, and here is the President being warned of impending disaster, and he thinks that the appropriate response is to dismiss the warning as a bureaucratic formality?
Has there been a single moment since the 2000 inauguration that these men haven't oozed evil from every pore?