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August 07, 2008

Suskind: Congress Preparing To Investigate, He'll Play Tapes If Necessary, Sources Previously Said They'd Testify

Here's Ron Suskind on NPR's Fresh Air today, starting at about 29:00:

SUSKIND: Ultimately you feel a kind of humbleness as a reporter. There are some things books can take you up to the gates of, the precipice of, but can't go all the way, just in terms of these issues of people having to testify under oath, hopefully with immunity and also the threat of perjury...And some people in Congress of course are getting ready to do that at this point.

NPR: One person that people are going to want to talk to is you. Are you prepared to play recordings which substantiate what you have in this book?

SUSKIND: If it comes to that, of course. I would hope it wouldn't, frankly. And my estimation is that everything in this book is true, and findable. And other reporters are out on the hunt right now. There are other sources that, uh, are near to the surface, let's just say. And I think lots of these things will be moot fairly quickly. I have not a shadow of a doubt, having spent hours with Maguire and Richer and others—Buzzy Krongard, the number three guy at CIA, talks also about some of these issues of Habbush—other people in the know know bits about it...

NPR: ...As a journalist—and you're not some hack who's come up with a scoop here, you have a long record, you've won a Pulitzer Prize—but if in one of the most controversial parts of the book—one which, as you say, could have grave legal implications—two of the most prominent on the record sources are saying, it's just not true, what do you say to those who say, why should believe other parts of the book?

SUSKIND: Sadly, this is the way the world works. These guys are under stress, this sometimes happens when that's the case, and I think people are looking at it in terms of the context of the situation. I've been at this for a long time, and I have sources who spend a long time with me, we tape their conversations, I put it in a book or a magazine piece. And then the heat comes, of public attention. And it's startling for them, especially at the beginning. It's quite jarring. I'm used to it. But for private citizens, even tough guys, like both of these are—and both of them, frankly, are big believers in the truth process. And I've talked to both of them: "You're never going to feel heat quite like this." And they said, both of them, Richer and Maguire, I'm ready to go in front of Senate committees, and House committees, I'm ready to have my moment. They knew everything that was in the book. Once they get there and the moment arrives, sometimes their knees buckle. And then you say, all right, let's take a deep breath, and you get them upright, and they tend to often then walk forward...They're reacting to that first blast.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at August 7, 2008 08:24 PM

For some reason my bullshit detector is piqued by this whole story. Perhaps I'm just cynical enough to think they would sucker Suskind into making these allegations public so they can be publicly debunked in Congress and the accusers ridiculed.

Then the right-wing media circus will go nuts about how the accusations are typed up in Times New Roman, which didn't even exist in 2003, and then the whole idea that they lied about WMD to put the U.S. military's bootprint smack dab in the middle of the oil will become politically radioactive and no one they allow on TV will go near it again. Meanwhile good liberals will pitiably bleat about the superiority of a nuanced worldview and how just because Dick Cheney didn't personally order these two guys to create these documents doesn't mean documents weren't forged at his request, etc. Five years later and everyone knows that they found proof Saddam was chasing yellowcake in Niger.

Fuck me if I'm not cynical.

Posted by: James Cape at August 7, 2008 08:59 PM

Mr. Cape, you read my mind. Watching Suskind on Olbie I got a sinking feeling, he's being baited into delivering the Bush Junta a well placed smoke screen on their way out the door. As if they needed any extra.

"...these guys are big believers in the truth process". Ya don't say?

I dearly hope I'm off on this.

Posted by: BenP at August 7, 2008 10:12 PM

I don't actually think this is a "Bush Junta conspiracy"; suckering Suskind and how this plays out is pretty much the absolute worst-case scenario. I could just as easily convince myself that these two guys were making shit up to play at the big-time or settle old scores--and Suskind is bluffing about the tapes to maintain his reputation...

Regardless of the veracity of this, the point is to treat the criminal prosecution of officials little-r responsibly. They are still innocent until proven guilty, so you had better actually *prove* them guilty. In that scenario, this is simply *a* piece of evidence (e.g. like the DSM), not *the* piece of evidence.

Posted by: James Cape at August 7, 2008 11:32 PM