- The Way of the World (book)
Infobox_book | name = The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism
language = English
publisher = Harper
August 5, 2008
pages = 432
isbn = ISBN 978-0061430626
"The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism" is a non-fiction book by
Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, describing various actions and policies of the George W. Bush Administration. Most notably, it alleges that the Bush Administration ordered the forgery of the Habbush letterto implicate Iraq as having ties to Al Qaedaand the organizers of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The book, published on August 5, 2008by Harper, has met mixed critical reviews but inspired considerable media attention and controversy. Anticipation for the commercial success of the book was high, with " The Wall Street Journal" reporting that it was the "biggest release" of a crop of late-summer "big titles". [Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. ( 2008-08-04) [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121780268570308307.html?mod=googlenews_wsj Slumping sales could get a lift as new titles hit shelves] "The Wall Street Journal". Retrieved 2008-08-10.]
In the book, Suskind details and describes a variety of actions, policies, and procedure of the Bush Administration. The most widely publicized allegation in the book is that high-ranking White House officials ordered the
Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) to forge or manufacture a false-pretense for the Iraq warthrough a backdated, handwritten document ― namely, the Habbush letter ― linking Saddam Husseinand al-Qaeda. [Considine, Bob. ( 2008-08-05) [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26030573/ Author claims White House knew Iraq had no WMD] MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-08-10.] Bayard, Louis. ( 2008-08-06) [http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/08/06/suskind/ Forging the missing case for the war] "Salon". Retrieved 2008-08-10.] The letter purported to be from General Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the head of Iraqi Intelligence, to Saddam Hussein, detailing training which 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Attasupposedly received in Iraq and mentioning receipt of a shipment from Niger. The D.C.-based author says the CIA forged this letter before the 2003 Iraqi invasion on an order from the White House. The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi Intelligence official, General Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, "that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion." [http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/thebigblog/archives/145259.asp] Suskind further states that Vice-President Dick Cheneyimplemented a set of procedures and processes designed to make the President less involved and less accountable for various controversial decisions and actions.
The book is receiving considerable media attention. Suskind was twice interviewed the week of the book's release by
Meredith Vieira, on NBC's Today show.Allen, Mike. [http://www.webcitation.org/5Zsd9yWEy Book says White House ordered forgery] Politico. August 5, 2003] He was interviewed on NPR's Fresh Airby Dave Davies, [Staff. ( 2008-08-07) [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93319762 Ron Suskind alleges war fought on false premises] NPR. Retrieved 2008-08-10.] as well as on the The Daily Showwith Jon Stewarton August 11. On August 12, Suskind appeared live online at " The Washington Post"'s "Book World Live". [Staff. ( 2008-08-08) [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2008/08/08/DI2008080802640.html Book world: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism] washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2008-08-10.] On August 13and 14, he appeared on Democracy Now. [ [http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/13/the_way_of_the_world_ron] ] [ [http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/14/after_ron_suskind_reveals_bush_admin] ] On August 15, Suskind appeared on Hannity & Colmes [ [http://www.foxnews.com/video/index.html?playerId=videolandingpage&streamingFormat=FLASH&referralObject=3032103&referralPlaylistId=playlist Hannity & Colmes, August 15, 2008] ]
One of the most controversial claims in the book is that the White House directed the CIA to forge a letter from an Iraqi intelligence official. This claim rests on Suskind's interviews with multiple sources, including three former intelligence officials who spoke on the record: Robert Richer and John Maguire from the CIA and Nigel Inkster from the British foreign intelligence service, MI6.
All three men have issued public statements responding to the controversy. Robert Richer, the CIA's former deputy director of clandestine operations, said "I never received direction from George Tenet or anyone else in my chain of command to fabricate a document ... as outlined in Mr. Suskind's book" [ [http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hRkJ54grLScNeejwV_RPEmb9yuZQD92CE9P00 CIA officials named in book deny faking letter, Associated Press, August 5, 2008] ] Richer also says that he reviewed the book before it was published, and told Suskind he had got it wrong. [ [http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/2008/08/richer-i-told-suskind-he-was-w.html Richer: 'I told Suskind He was Wrong', Congressional Quarterly, August 9, 2008] ] Richer stated that he is considering legal action against Suskind. [ [http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/2008/08/richer-i-told-suskind-he-was-w.html Richer: 'I told Suskind He was Wrong', Congressional Quarterly, August 9, 2008] ]
John Maguire, who headed the CIA's Iraq Operations Group, issued a statement through Richer saying, "I never received any instruction from then Chief/NE Rob Richer or any other officer in my chain of command instructing me to fabricate such a letter." [Blackledge, Brett J. (
2008-08-05) [http://news.aol.com/article/white-house-denies-faking-iraq-letter/119092 White House denies faking Iraq letter] Associated Press. Hosted at news.aol.com. Retrieved 2008-08-10.]
Retired British intelligence official Nigel Inkster called Suskind's allegations "inaccurate and misleading", saying "Mr Suskind's characterisation of our meeting is more the stuff of creative fiction than serious reportage, and seeks to make more of it than the circumstances or the content warranted." [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/06/iraq.iraq Angry denials are not enough, The Guardian, August 6, 2008] ]
The White House also denied the allegation. Deputy press Secretary, Tony Fratto, said, "The notion that the White House directed anyone to forge a letter from Habbush to Saddam Hussein is absurd." [ [http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hRkJ54grLScNeejwV_RPEmb9yuZQD92CE9P00 CIA officials named in book deny faking letter, Associated Press, August 5, 2008] ] George Tenet, the former Director of Central Intelligence, said "There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from CIA ever involved in any such effort," adding "The notion that I would suddenly reverse our stance and have created and planted false evidence that was contrary to our own beliefs is ridiculous." [ [http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0808/12313.html Tenet statement on Suskind, Politico, August 5, 2008] ]
uskind's Response to His Critics
Suskind responded in an interview to Richer's statement, saying "You know, that’s a very narrow legalistic response of—lawyers in Washington have called, saying that’s actually a non-denial denial, because, in terms of chain of command, Rob Richer is not actually on George’s chain of command, if you will. It goes around to Rob Richer." [Ron Suskind, [http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/13/the_way_of_the_world_ron interview] with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (13 August 2008).]
Suskind also posted a partial transcript of his taped interview with Richer in which Richer says the White House ordered the fabrication. [Suskind, Ron. [http://www.ronsuskind.com/thewayoftheworld/transcripts/ Transcripts] . ronsuskind.com. Retrieved
2008-08-12.] According to Suskind, Richer said, "I would probably stand on my, basically, my reputation and say [the order to fabricate the letter] came from the vice president." [
John Byrne, " [http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Tape_Top_CIA_officer_confesses_order_0808.html Tape: Top CIA official confesses order to forge Iraq-9/11 letter came on White House stationery] ," "The Raw Story" (8 August 208).] Richer states that the order was on White House stationery rather than Vice Presidential stationery, but asserts that it must have come from Cheney's office "cause almost all that stuff came from one place only:
Scooter Libbyand the shop around the vice president." Suskind claimed in an interview that the posting of the transcript had "frankly, quelled some of the clouds that were kicked up by this." [Ron Suskind, [http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/13/the_way_of_the_world_ron interview] with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (13 August 2008).]
After Suskind posted his partial transcript, Richer issued a second statement, saying "Mr. Suskind has now released an edited transcript of an apparent conversation between us that he alleges supports one of the central themes in his book. It does not. I stand by my earlier statement and my absolute belief that the charges outlined in Mr. Suskind's book regarding Agency involvement in forging documents are not true." [ [http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/2008/08/richer-i-told-suskind-he-was-w.html Richer: 'I told Suskind He was Wrong'] ] [ [http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/2008/08/cia-man-web-site-statement-on.html CIA Man: Web Site Statement on Suskind Book is Mine] ] Suskind has also claimed that Richer came under pressure to release his statement; on an interview with
National Public Radio, he stated:
cquote|Richer is an interesting situation. Look, the fact is these two guys are saying things that could result, going forward, in the impeachment of the president. It's a very rare situations we have here. You know, they don't have immunity. It's not under oath in front of some Senate committee or House committee. And enormous pressure's been brought to bear, clearly on Richer. He was fine. He'd read the book.... And, you know, he was fine with it, frankly.... He knows that I've taped a lot of the conversations and all the rest.But by the afternoon, something had occurred--other reporters who had been talking to Richer noticed this, as well--that he was jumpy and not himself, really. And at that point, he sent out this statement and sort of, you know, dove deep after that. And that was the last time anyone, I think, has had contact with him. So I'm not sure who's talking to Richer in the late afternoon Tuesday before he sends the statement. Frankly, it's the kind of thing some investigator in Congress might some day want to look into, you know, as this thing unfolds; because it's going to be, you know, contentious and tendentious politically, especially in an election season. [Ron Suskind, interview on Fresh Air (7 August 2008), LexisNexis transcript]
Regarding Maguire's statement, Suskind noted "The book doesn’t allege anything that he’s stating there. The book shows clearly what happened. Maguire—as people read the book, they’re like, that statement doesn’t actually reflect what’s in the book. The book just shows him talking to Rob Richer—Maguire—about the letter, about its contents, about generally its origin. And at that point, Maguire was moving on to a new job, so I say in the book it’s passed to Maguire’s successor for execution. So there’s an example where Maguire, who had not read the book at that point, had it characterized wrongly by Richer, whomever Richer was working with, and then responded to something not in the book. You know, it’s interesting, because this is part of a kind of practice of careful sort of kick-up-the-dust deception, in terms of statements like this that experienced reporters have seen from time to time." [Ron Suskind, [http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/13/the_way_of_the_world_ron interview] with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (13 August 2008).] On NBC TV's Today Show on August 6, 2008 [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26050915/] Suskind said that Maguire would be reading the book "that day" and would see that it accurately reflected what he had said.
In another interview with
Democracy Now!, Suskind claims that he confirmed the claims of Richer and Maguire in several interviews: "the fact is, is it’s not a matter of a passing conversation. We had many conversations on this specific issue, on the Habbush matter, with all of the key sources. There was never any mystery about what it was, what the Habbush letter was, what the Habbush mission entailed, in terms of the setup with the Iraq intelligence chief. I mean, exhaustive, hour after hour. And the way I do it as an investigative reporter, is you go back again and again and again." [Ron Suskind, [http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/14/after_ron_suskind_reveals_bush_admin interview with Amy Goodman and John Conyers] , Democracy Now! (14 August 2008).] And in the NPR interview, he claims that both Richer and Maguire had indicated a willingness to testify against the Administration about these allegations: "both of them, frankly, are big believers in the truth process. And I've talked to both of them about, `Hey, 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. You know, once they get there and the moment arrives, sometimes their knees buckle. And then you kind of say, `All right, let's take a deep breath.' And you get them upright, and they tend to often then walk forward." [NPR interview]
Responding to Tenet, Suskind challenged his credibility as a source on the issue, stating that "George is the last man you want to call on something like this." [ Ron Suskind, [http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/13/the_way_of_the_world_ron interview] with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (13 August 2008). ] Suskind stated, "Tenet has talked often to reporters, even folks in Congress, that he doesn't remember anything, you know. He's got a memory issue, obviously. And the people just shrug. Is it convenient? Is it something else? In any event, you know, I think Tenet is, you know, with the White House because I think both of them are a bit in the same leaky rowboat on this one." [Ron Suskind, interview on Fresh Air (7 August 2008), LexisNexis transcript] In an interview with Hannity & Colmes, Suskind admitted that he had not spoken to Tenet about the allegation. [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,405641,00.html In New Book Author Ron Suskind Alleges Bush Administration Lied About Iraq and Al Qaeda Link, Hannity & Colmes, August 18, 2008] ]
Suskind responded to the White House's claim that he "has chosen to dwell in the netherworld of bizarre conspiracy theories" by stating that they were "all but obligated to deny this".Fox News staff, with contributions from Associated Press. (
2008-08-05) [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,397701,00.html Administration fights back against book claiming it knowingly lied about Iraq-Al Qaeda connection] "Fox News". Retrieved 2008-08-10.]
Joe Conason of Salon.com also published circumstantial evidence that supports Suskind's claims; Conason found that
Ayad Allawi, who originally made the forged letter available to the London Telegraph, was "a longtime asset of the Central Intelligence Agency." Just before the Telegraph published information about the Habbush letter, Allawi was at CIA headquarters in Langley; after the forged letter hit the international media, Allawi "suddenly returned to favor in Baghdad and eclipsed Chalabi, at least for a while. Five months later, in May 2004, the Iraqi Governing Council elected Allawi as his country's interim prime minister, reportedly under pressure from the American authorities." Conason suggests these facts establish "a strong circumstantial case ... in support of Suskind's story." [Joe Conason, " [http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2008/08/08/suskind/ New evidence suggests Ron Suskind is right," "Salon.com" (8 August 2008).]
The "Boston Globe"'s Claude R. Marx wrote that "Suskind's sources seem pretty solid, and the denials from the White House and former CIA director George Tenet were what you would expect of policymakers trying to salvage their reputation; they didn't try to disparage Suskind or threaten legal action." [Marx, Claude R. [http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2008/08/21/suskind_gives_a_ground_up_view_of_bushs_war_on_terror/ Suskind gives a ground-up view of Bush's war on terror] . "The Boston Globe". August 21, 2008.]
Dan Froomkin of "The Washington Post" elaborated: "The allegation in Ron Suskind's new book that the White House ordered the CIA to forge evidence of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda is so incredibly grave that it demands a serious response from the government. If what Suskind writes is true -- or even partially true -- someone at the highest levels of the White House engaged in a criminal conspiracy to deceive the American public. . . . But so far, we've gotten mostly hyperbole, innuendo and narrowly constructed denials." He goes on:
cquote|White House spokesman Tony Fratto's response was a classic non-denial denial: "The notion that the White House directed anyone to forge a letter from [former Iraqi intelligence chief Tahir Jalil] Habbush to Saddam Hussein is absurd," he said. He accused Suskind, a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter and well-respected chronicler of Bush administration secrets, of engaging in "gutter journalism."The White House yesterday also distributed - and for all we know ghostwrote - a statement on behalf of two former CIA officials who were key sources for Suskind's book. "I never received direction from George Tenet or anyone else in my chain of command to fabricate a document from Habbush as outlined in Mr. Suskind's book," Robert Richer, the CIA's former deputy director of clandestine operations, said in the statement. And John Maguire, who headed the CIA's Iraq Operations Group at the time in question, supposedly gave Richer permission to state on his behalf: "I never received any instruction from then Chief/NE Rob Richer or any other officer in my chain of command instructing me to fabricate such a letter. Further, I have no knowledge to the origins of the letter and as to how it circulated in Iraq."
Former CIA director George Tenet - who has had problems with his memory before - said in statement: "There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from CIA ever involved in any such effort."
When honest people are confronted with a false accusation, they typically respond without caveats.
But Fratto's response is a far cry from a categorical denial that anything akin to what Suskind describes took place. Indeed, given recent White House history, it more likely means: "We want this question to go away, so we're going to call it ridiculous."
And the statement sent out on behalf of the former CIA officials raises more questions than it answers. Did they perhaps get such instructions from people out of their chain of command? (Vice President Cheney springs to mind.) Maybe someone ordered them to create a forgery, but didn't explicitly mention Habbush?
Ideally, all the people allegedly involved in this plot would be required to provide direct answers to some basic questions. And even more ideally, this would be done under oath. [Froomkin, Dan. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2008/08/06/BL2008080601864.html The White House's Weak Denials] . "The Washington Post". August 6, 2008.]
The House Judiciary Committee announced plans to investigate the allegations. [ [http://judiciary.house.gov/news/080811.html Conyers Announces Review of Allegations of Bush Administration’s Forged Iraq Intelligence] (11 Aug 2008).] Committee Chairman
John Conyershas called it "the most critical investigation of the entire Bush administration." [ John Conyers, [http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/14/after_ron_suskind_reveals_bush_admin interview] , Democracy Now! (14 August 2008).]
Conyers' office issued letters directing some of the principals allegedly involved in the forgery to appear before the Committee for questioning. These included Rob Richer, Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs
John Hannah, and former Chief of Staff to the Vice President Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for his involvement in the Valerie Plame scandal, [John Byrne, "Libby questioned on forged letter linking Saddam to 9/11," "The Raw Story" (20 August 2008).] as well as George Tenet, John Maguire, and A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard(the number three man at the CIA, who Suskind says also confirmed the allegations). [Ryan Grim, " [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/20/politics/politico/thecrypt/main4368604.shtml Conyers Investigating Suskind Allegations] ," "CBS News" (20 August 2008).]
Another controversial claim in the book is that former Iraqi Intelligence Chief Habbush had told American and British intelligence that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; this claim was controversial because the British and U.S. governments had been insisting at the time that such weapons did exist, and went to war in Iraq in part on the strength of the evidence of the existence of such weapons programs. Suskind's claim would suggest that the US and UK may have known all along that there were no such weapons in Iraq. Suskind was interviewed on
BBC Radio 4[http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7569000/7569767.stm] on August 19, 2008. BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera followed the interview by reading a statement from former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove in which Dearlove said:
"Suskind's book is misleading. His conclusions and most of his central facts, as far as they refer to issues which I know about,are quite simply wrong. His imaginative use of his meeting with me to substantiate his own thesis I find unacceptable."After reading the statement, Corera emphasized that the sources he spoke with "were careful not to deny that a meeting did take place with the Iraqi intelligence chief on the eve of war in which this man Habbush denied Saddam had any weapons. But I think the key question is whether he was meeting MI6 as a spy providing secret intelligence on Saddam, in which case his information might have been taken very seriously, or whether, in fact, this was a back channel that Saddam Hussein himself had authorized, and that therefore this Iraqi intelligence chief Habbush was simply saying what other Iraqi intelligence officials were already saying."
Detention of a Pakistani national inside the White House
Suskind alleges that, on July 27, 2006, a Pakistani national walking past the
White Housewas detained under suspicion of being a terrorist and questioned in an "interrogation room" under the building. According to conservative journalist Ronald Kessler, the Secret Servicehas disputed Suskind's account, saying "We have no record of the incident or the [Pakistani] individual referenced." A Secret Service spokesman went on to add, "Bringing an individual inside the White House for questioning defies standard security and protocols and safety procedures. We would not bring a suspicious person, potential prisoner, prisoner, or any person who has not been properly vetted onto the White House grounds." Kessler also quotes Suskind as saying that when he contacted the Secret Service in the course of researching his book, a spokeswoman told him that the individual in question was not on file but that "it is not uncommon if the individual was 'in and out that we don't find a permanent record.'" Suskind also told Kessler that he spoke to "witnesses" who backed up the story. [Kessler, Ronald. [http://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/suskind_khosa/2008/08/25/124743.html Secret Service Denies Ron Suskind's Account] . "Newsmax". August 25, 2008] ]
The New York Times
Reviewing the book for "
The New York Times", Mark Dannerwrites:
"In a crowded, highly talented field, Mr. Suskind bids fair to claim the crown as the most perceptive, incisive, dogged chronicler of the inner workings of the Bush administration. . . . Behind the highly promoted scandals in "The Way of the World" lies a complex web of intersecting stories, the plotlines of a varied traveling company of actors whose doings Mr. Suskind chronicles with meticulous care. . . . These narratives and others perform, in Mr. Suskind’s hands, an intricate arabesque and manage, to a rather remarkable degree, to show us, in this age of terror, 'the true way of the world.' Amid the intense and vivid storytelling here, Mr. Suskind takes many risks and not all succeed; the book will be criticized for sentimentality and a kind of wide-eyed, communal optimism that are easy to ridicule. Still, the reporting is solid and often sublime." [Danner, Mark. [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/27/books/27danner.html?em Weapons of Mass Destruction and Other Imaginative Acts] . "The New York Times". August 27, 2008.]
The Washington Post
The Washington Post's" Alan Cooperman writes:
"Let's put aside, for a moment, the question of whether investigative reporter Ron Suskind's new book is properly considered nonfiction (as he and his publisher assert) or fiction (as the Bush administration and various critics contend). It's unquestionably a narrative: a humorous, indignant, touching story whose "characters" - as Suskind revealingly calls them - learn that America's most effective defense against international terrorism is not torture or wiretapping but the "moral energy" that flows from truthfulness, generosity, integrity and optimism." [Cooperman, Alan. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/18/AR2008081802463.html Gripping Tales, Unknown Sources] . "The Washington Post". August 19, 2008.]
The Sunday Times (London)
The Sunday Times's" Simon Jenkins reviewed the book, finding that "Suskind is never unsympathetic to his characters, who he appears to have debriefed intensively. He is a romantic, a writer who clearly believes that his country has betrayed its past, its values and its moral compass by failing to tell the truth about the war. My reservation lies in his “new realism” style of reporting." After taking some issue with the style of the narrative, he concludes:
"Suskind [does not] question the main premise he shares with his White House culprits, that America is right in its grand mission to export its culture to the world. He never asks whether it is this, rather than the mendacity of the Iraq war, that has turned America from the land of miracles to that of hubris. These complaints do not diminish what is a vivid snapshot of a year, 2006-2007, in the life of a nation whose leaders have betrayed its high moral purpose. One of Suskind's Washington players cries into the darkness, 'Can the great beast self-correct?' Can America, Suskind asks, recover its missionary rectitude? He clearly thinks it can." [Jenkins, Simon. [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article4588715.ece The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism by Ron Suskind] . "The Sunday Times" (London). August 24, 2008.]
The Boston Globe
Writing in "
The Boston Globe", Claude R. Marx comments that "There have already been enough books about the Bush administration's war on terror to fill several shelves in a library. Most are either strongly pro or con with not enough dispassionate analysis. Ron Suskind's "The Way of the World" is something of a hybrid. Rather than looking at the subject from 10,000 feet above ground, it tells us about it through the stories of government operatives, a defense lawyer, and two citizens of Muslim countries living in the United States. It is critical of President Bush and his policies but makes its points by example rather than by taking cheap shots." Marx goes on to critique the book for failing "to acknowledge the successes of the country's post-9/11 strategy," but also notes that while "the political sections of the book will get the most attention . . . readers who skip over or read too hastily the sections dealing with the effects of the Bush administration's policies on average citizens are doing themselves a disservice. . . . "The Way of the World" doesn't break a great deal of ground, [but] its intriguing profiles and elegant writing make the book worth reading." [Marx, Claude R. [http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2008/08/21/suskind_gives_a_ground_up_view_of_bushs_war_on_terror/ Suskind gives a ground-up view of Bush's war on terror] . "The Boston Globe". August 21, 2008.]
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times's" Tim Rutten was critical of "The Way of the World", calling it "structurally a mess" and as "a work of literary nonfiction . . . an irritating example of overreaching." Speaking to the book's conception, Rutten muses that "Suskind, mindful that the Bush/Cheney administration is staggering to inglorious conclusion, intended this book to look to the future as well as back to the recent past - to suggest, in some fashion, a way forward." Rutten credits Suskind, too, writing that "Suskind's reporting continues to make him an indispensable chronicler of the Bush/Cheney debacle"; and he weighs in in support of Suskind on the controversy surrounding the Habbush letter, saying of the transcript posted on Suskind's website: "It not only supports Suskind's account as written, but shows he took a conservative approach toward his material."Rutten, Tim. [http://www.latimes.com/features/books/la-et-rutten9-2008aug09,0,213956.story 'The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism' by Ron Suskind] "The Los Angeles Times". August 9, 2008.]
Salon's" Louis Bayard characterized the book as "alternately incisive and gauzy", praising the book for its reporting while critiquing its language as at-times sentimental and its outlook as more optimistic than the facts warrant. Bayard writes:
"We can admire Suskind for wanting to do more than catechize political abuses while still acknowledging that utopianism is not his true idiom. His normally rigorous language grows increasingly soggy as he talks about 'vast heartbeat migrations' and people who 'bend toward the sunlight, like all living things' and who come 'to the shores of a vast, challenging place, discovering their truest potential, and re-creating, over and over, a new world.' . . . Bending toward the sunlight is all well and good, but we equally need people to find the places where the sunlight doesn't reach, and no journalist has more ably explored the dark crevices of the Bush administration's foreign policy. In "The One Percent Doctrine" and, more fitfully, here, Suskind has shown that faith -- the wrong kind of faith, anyway -- can produce disaster. That Suskind should want to replace the old faiths with new ones is understandable. But we still need him to explore faith's limits." [Bayard, Louis. [http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/08/06/suskind/ Forging the missing case for war] . "Salon". August 6, 2008.]
The New York Observer
Reviewing the book for "
The New York Observer", Jonathan Liu writes:
"With little warning and less explanation, Ron Suskind has written the year’s most brazenly experimental novel. It’s not entirely successful, but then the boldest experiments are often inconclusive. Mr. Suskind summons deceased aesthetic forms as an intervention on the now — but he’s not indulging in ironical pastiche. Moving, manipulative, maudlin, "The Way of the World" reanimates the conventions and contrivances of 19th-century realism with a seriousness too deadly to be a matter of mere style.
"It’s all here: a cast of characters that sprawls across class and circumstance to represent the totality of a historical moment; central moral truths restated so often as to be less repetition than incantation; an all-seeing narrator who intrudes at regular intervals to tell the reader what it all means. And yet the cutting edge is sharper than simple retrograde Victorianism: These hard times, Mr. Suskind’s book suggests, call for a nonfiction Dickens." [Liu, Jonathan. [http://www.observer.com/2008/arts-culture/bush-cheney-true-novel Bush-Cheney as True Novel] . "The New York Observer". August 13, 2008.]
Clive Crook of the
Financial Timesfound the charges in "The Way of the World" "grave and shocking" and the stuff of a "a Watergate-sized scandal." Crook wrote that "Congress ought to look into it urgently, with witnesses on oath," adding that the "picture of blundering malfeasance that emerges from this book is deeply depressing." He criticized the book's structure, writing that "the tale meanders hither and yon, in its bloated 'multilayered' fashion." [Crook, Clive. [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7c6225f8-673a-11dd-808f-0000779fd18c.html?nclick_check=1 Whispers of a Watergate for Bush] . "Financial Times". August 11, 2008]
Another review of the book in the
Financial Times, this one by the paper's international affairs editor, Quentin Peel, begins by discussing the book's vantage:
"During the cold war, [intelligence] agencies spent most of their time spying on each other, in an elaborate but well-choreographed drama. Since 9/11, they have been scrambling to acquire the skills needed to make sense of a new world disorder.
"Before they were remotely ready, they were thrust into the front line of political decision-making in places of power such as the White House and Downing Street. Raw intelligence was used and abused by both George W. Bush and Tony Blair to justify going to war in Iraq.
"That is the world that Ron Suskind seeks to expose and deconstruct in The Way of the World. It is a grey place where the borderline between fact and fiction is notoriously difficult to define."
Peel continues, writing that "The Way of the World"'s "sensational claims are almost an afterthought at the very end of Suskind's book. The author, a distinguished former "
Wall Street Journal" reporter, has already exposed the dysfunctional White House regime in two previous works, " The One Percent Doctrine" and " The Price of Loyalty". This time he has written a morality tale, an attempt to define how America can recover its moral authority after the global backlash against the disastrous Bush presidency." Peel concludes that "It is a brave attempt, but it fails." [Peel, Quentin. [http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto090120080145487942&page=2 The Way of the World] . "Financial Times". September 1, 2008.]
Reviewing the book for "
Bloomberg", Timothy R. Homan writes, "The Way of the World" is really two books in one. The first, of course, is an investigation into the way the administration under President George W. Bushhas crafted its post-9/11 doctrine. The second, somewhat incompatible book describes the experiences of foreigners, from an Afghan high school exchange student to a young Pakistani professional, living in 21st-century America. These stories read like a modern-day, political Canterbury Tales." Homan expresses mixed feelings about the book's structure and form: "While the melding of investigative reporting with personal narratives showcases the range of Suskind's writing skills, the staccato format ultimately proves jarring and incoherent." [Homan, Timothy R. [http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=ahGnpK.1.Z3U&refer=muse Ron Suskind Drops Bomb on Bushies, Says CIA Forged Iraq Letter] . "Bloomberg". August 18, 2008.]
On August 22, 2008, the CIA released a statement on its website regarding the allegations in Suskind's book::"In his book, 'The Way of the World,' author Ron Suskind makes some serious charges about the CIA and Iraq. As Agency officers current and former have made clear, those charges are false. More than that, they are not in keeping with the way CIA works. In fact, they are profoundly offensive to the men and women who serve here, as they should be to all Americans.:Suskind claims that, in September 2003, the White House ordered then-Director George Tenet to fabricate a letter describing a level of cooperation between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa’ida that simply did not exist. The White House has denied making that request, and Director Tenet has denied receiving it. The former Agency officers Suskind cites in his narrative have, for their part, publicly denied being asked to carry out such a mission.:Those denials are powerful in and of themselves. But they are also backed by a thorough, time-consuming records search within CIA and by interviews with other officers—senior and junior alike—who were directly involved in Iraq operations. To assert, as Suskind does, that the White House would request such a document, and that the Agency would accept such a task, says something about him and nothing about us. It did not happen.:Two former senior British intelligence officers have also released statements taking issue with Suskind. They each describe his work as 'misleading.' CIA has made its own inquiries overseas and no one—no individual and no intelligence service—has substantiated Suskind’s account of Habbush or the bogus letter. At this point, the origins of the forgery, like the whereabouts of Habbush himself, remain unclear. But this much is certain: Suskind is off the mark." [ [https://www.cia.gov/news-information/press-releases-statements/hardly-the-way-of-the-world.html CIA Statement: Hardly “The Way of the World”] ] When asked why the CIA had made an exception to its general practice of not commenting on books, a spokesman wrote that it was because "the allegations were so egregious—including the suggestion that the agency broke the law—that we felt a response was both necessary and appropriate.” [ Rachel Deahl, " [http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6589619.html?desc=topstory CIA Goes On The Record About Suskind Book] ," "Publisher's Weekly" (22 August 2008).]
Tenet followed the CIA release with a new statement of his own saying that it was "ridiculous to think that the White House would give (him) such and order and even more ridiculous to think that (he) would carry it out." He added that as the head of the CIA he had "consistently fought with some Administration officials to prevent them from overstating the case for Iraqi involvement in international terrorism." [Joby Warrick, " [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/22/AR2008082202681.html CIA More Fully Denies Deception About Iraq] ," "Washington Post" (23 August 2008) p. A3.]
The "Washington Post" reports that "Suskind, whose claims are now the subject of two congressional investigations, yesterday continued to stand by his book and accused the CIA and White House of orchestrating a smear campaign. 'It's the same old stuff,' said Suskind, who said his findings are supported by hours of interviews, some of them taped. 'There's not a shred of doubt about any of it.'"
Mark Danner noted in the "New York Times" that "Despite White House and C.I.A. denials, Mr. Suskind’s case, if not definitive, seems strong; and had Hussein not been captured the very day the article appeared in The Telegraph, the C.I.A.’s handiwork might have had a significant political effect." [Mark Danner, " [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/27/books/27danner.html Weapons of Mass Destruction and Other Imaginative Acts] ," "New York Times" (27 August 2008).]
Iraq War misappropriations
* [http://www.ronsuskind.com/thewayoftheworld/ Official site]
* [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26012717/ Excerpt] , hosted with permission by msnbc.com
* [http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0808/12308.html Book says White House ordered forgery - Mike Allen - Politico.com]
* [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/05/earlyshow/main4321003.shtml Book Claims White House Forged War Intelligense] - Retrieved
August 05, 2008
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