Author: Bush Admin Causes 'Backlash' by Taking Terror Threats Too Seriously

June 19th, 2006 7:58 AM

Know what the problem is with the Bush administration? They take terror threats too darn seriously. And that causes a 'backlash.'

At least, that's the claim of author Ron Suskind, who was on the Today show this morning to discuss his recently-released book, 'The One Percent Doctrine'. Suskind is a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Those who might think that would indicate a conservative bent should be aware that, perhaps more than at any other paper in America, there is a remarkable contrast in the political leanings of the news and the editorial operations of the WSJ. Yes, the editorial page is keenly free-market conservative. But as per a 2004 study, the Journal's news operation is 'the most liberal of all 20 news outlets [studied]', more liberal than even the New York Times.

In any case, according to Suskind, two months after 9/11, VP Cheney was being briefed about the possibility of Pakistani nuclear scientists colluding with Osama Bin Laden. Responded Cheney:

"Look: these low probability/high impact events, we need to think about them in a different way. . . If there is 1% chance that WMDs have been given to al-Qaeda, we need to treat it as a certainty. Not in our analysis but in our response."

Judging by his initial follow-up, Lauer seemed to approve of the cautious approach: "Post 9/11, don't you think a lot of Americans would want that to deal with every 1% possibility as a certainty?"

And Suskind himself at first seemed to agree: "Absolutely, the thing about the 1% doctrine is that it will be debated, and there will be for and against. People will say 'what choice does he have?' And others will say 'look what it does in terms of guiding the ship of state of the only superpower in the world."

But as the interview progressed, it became clear that Suskind is an ardent critic of the policy. Lauer: "You think there are grave dangers in this type of policy. Why?"

Suskind: "The fact is that for us, as the most powerful nation in the world, what it does is it sends us into a tactical ferocity where we're following everything, where we can't even have a 1% chance not be handled, often with the full force of the US. The difficulty is that there is backlash when you act that way."

O-o-o-h. We wouldn't want to make our enemies mad, or anything.

Lauer seemed to capitulate, and proceeded to make Suskind's case: "So in terms of money, in terms of resources, time, energy, you think it spreads the United States too thin."

Suskind: "Certainly that's one of the great dangers here, that everything has to be dealt with, even if it's just a 1% chance."

Call it a cliche, but isn't it obvious that if the Bush administration failed to take a threat of which it was aware with great seriousness, and an attack occurred, this same Suskind and his MSM brethren would be excoriating the president for being too lax?

Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show 'Right Angle.' Contact him at