Monday, July 24, 2006

The Cost of Knowing

Just finished The One Percent Doctrine. Fantastic, as many reviews will attest to. What struck me most is Suskind's barely-concealed pain at what the Bush Administration has done to the national security of the United States. Whether it's the military, the CIA, or the National Security Council (an underappreciated organ, vital to executive decision making) the Bush administration has turned it all to shit. This is just the most obviously important part of the US government - the Bush Administration has ruined everything from the Interior Department to, most recently, NASA.

The central character to Suskind's story is George Tenet, who comes off basically as the kid in the group assignment who does all the hard work, and then has to share the credit with slackers. Except that in this case, when it comes time to get the marks back, Tenet is walking away with an F for all of history. Probably the most telling thing about this book is this: The so-called "slam dunk" that George Tenet used to describe the WMD case for Iraq never happened. Suskind never comes right out and says it, but he makes it clear that the "slam dunk" story was invented by Bush's partisans to smear Tenet, and blame him for the fiasco.

These people are slime.

The other thing that Suskind wants us all to remember is that we have ethical guidelines for even the dirtiest jobs for a reason. Suskind (p. 346):
"The traditional warning against "the ends justifying the means" carries a corollary. Without clear, attainable ends, means have a way of becoming unbound, improvised, born of dictates of the "gut" and unexamined assumptions."
If you wonder how the US ended up at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, that's it right there.

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