Ron Suskind's charge, that the Bush administration forged a letter to falsely link al-Qaeda with Saddam Hussein, landed the journalist/author not only a spot on Thursday night's "Hardball," but also the following recommendation for his book, The Way of the World, from guest host Mike Barnicle:
MIKE BARNICLE: And in reading the book, I have to tell you, in reading all your stuff, I admire all your stuff. But in reading this book and these charges that have laid out here and because of my background, covering like city stuff and everything for years, I can't help but come to the conclusion, at the end of this book, this book is basically charging the President of the United States, or the Vice President of the United States with being an accessory, before the fact, to 4000 murders and more in Iraq. They lied us into war, according to this book.
The following is an excerpt of the interview as it occurred on the August 7, "Hardball":
MIKE BARNICLE: You never asked the DCI, the Director of Central Intelligence Agency, point blank, "George [Tenet] did you transport a cream-colored piece of paper to Langley after your meeting at the White House?"
RON SUSKIND: For a lot of reasons I went to really reliable sources and to be frank about it, at this point, George [Tenet], as reporters in town know, is not the person you call for anything in terms of memory, even a short time ago, much less five years ago. He doesn't remember wide swaths of almost anything. In this case we dealt with people handling the situation who remember, with great vividness, what George says, what they did, the moment of passage, and down the chain. And that's why the book has such strength is because you can see clearly-
BARNICLE: Oh it does!
SUSKIND: -that this was an operation and people are quoted fully, based on their personal knowledge.
BARNICLE: It, it, it does, there's no doubt it. And in reading the book, I have to tell you, in reading all your stuff, I admire all your stuff. But in reading this book and these charges that have laid out here and because of my background, covering like city stuff and everything for years, I can't help but come to the conclusion, at the end of this book, this book is basically charging the President of the United States, or the Vice President of the United States with being an accessory, before the fact, to 4000 murders and more in Iraq. They lied us into war, according to this book.
SUSKIND: Well the, the book lays out the evidence step by step, all the way to that point in early January 2003, mind you this is important, weeks before the President's State of the Union address and a month before Colin Powell goes to the UN, that we are meeting with the Iraqi intelligence chief in a secret location, a back-channel. He tells us, "Hey there are no WMD and also here's the mind of Saddam Hussein. Here's why he's not worried, he's worried about the Iranians and being shown he's a toothless tiger." All this is clear later, demonstrable to the world. We know it, well before the war. The head of British intelligence, again on the record, says, you know the U.S. was moving forward like a runaway train. This was the British version of, "Let's stop this thing." We don't stop it, we ignore the intelligence chief. We then, of course, have a real problem. We put him into hiding, Mike. We pay him $5 million, from the U.S. government. We've hidden him for five years. Of course he still remains the "Jack of Diamonds," in Bush's deck of "Most Wanted Men." There's a $1 million reward for this fellow Habbush. And it has really been the smoking gun, best kept secret of the United States government. And it's one that shows clearly a lack of faith in the basic principles of democracy, in terms of transparency and especially accountability on this most August issue of war. And that's why, of course, everyone is buying it and reading it, and everybody is, congressional investigators are lining up to say, "This is indisputable. The evidence is here. Let's get people under oath with subpoenas and let's finish this." The book is actually very hopeful. It says we need to embrace truth before this era ends, if we're gonna move forward cleanly and with vigor with a kind of moral energy that has been bled away. You talk about 4000 deaths, well the fact is, what the book is about, is how over these years America has lost its moral authority and how people are struggling to get it back, now in this year of consent.
BARNICLE: Ron Suskind, thanks very much. The book is The Way of the World. It reads like a novel.