The Blog

Suskind's "Bombshell"

1:40 PM, Aug 5, 2008 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Suskind doesn't have a very good record on such matters. George Tenet, one of the main sources for Suskind's last book, The One Percent Doctrine, refuted the anecdote that produced the book's title and shaped its entire narrative. Bill Kristol wrote about it at the time Tenet's book was published:

Tenet defends Dick Cheney against the ridiculous claim made in Ron Suskind's book, The One Percent Doctrine, that Cheney urged his colleagues to ignore evidence that did not serve his war- mongering purposes.

Tenet says Cheney asked a CIA analyst named "Kevin K." if Langley thought al Qaeda had already acquired a nuke. Kevin responded, "Sir, if I were to give you a traditional analytical assessment of the al-Qa'ida nuclear program, I would say they probably do not. But I can't assure you they don't."

Cheney, according to Tenet, "then made a comment that in my view has since been misinterpreted." Tenet's Cheney replies to Kevin: "If there's a one percent chance they do, you have to pursue it as if it were true."

Suskind twists this to mean that Cheney was instructing others to ignore contrary evidence. Tenet doesn't buy it.

the vice president understood instinctively that WMD must be managed differently because the implications were unique--such an attack would change history. We all felt the vice president understood this issue. There was no question in my mind that he was absolutely right to insist that when it came to discussing weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists, conventional risk assessments no longer applied; we must rule out any possibility of terrorists succeeding in their quest to obtain such weapons. We could not afford to be surprised.

So much for the One Percent Doctrine.