Thursday, February 8, 2007

Cheney, Wilson, and the 1% Test

Andrew Sullivan writes about the Libby trial today, and VP Cheney being a key -- if so far, off stage -- player. Sullivan summarizes Cheney's involvement in the attack on Wilson as follows:

Cheney was far more focused on fighting a petty Beltway skirmish in the press over a petty issue in the recent past.

Why? There are only two plasuible explanations I can think of for the disproportionate concern. The first is pure arrogance... Any querying of his position was an affront a man of his arrogance couldn't tolerate - even if it meant risking a huge amount to squash a political bug the size of Wilson.

The alternative explanation is that Cheney was scared - so scared he took a huge risk...But why would he be scared? The most plausible inference is that he knew he had deliberately rigged the WMD evidence to ensure that the war took place...[There] was [a] danger that journalists or skeptics pulling on the thread that Wilson represented could get closer to the much bigger truth of WMD deception. This is a huge deal for one single reason: if true, it means that the White House acted in bad faith in making the case for war...

Sullivan's second insight is supported, in a way, by Ron Suskind's book, The One Percent Doctrine. In the book, Suskind lays out the "Cheney Doctrine":
"If there's a one percent chance [that terrorists are acting], we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response," Cheney said. He paused to assess his declaration. "It's not about analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence," he added. "It's about our response."

Suskind, p. 62. The Cheney Doctrine, which Suskind claims drove much national security policy during the period after 9/11 until today, may have played a part in the decision to go to war in Iraq. Suskind writes:
[T]he key rule - that the United States woudl treat a 'one percent chance' of a country passing WMDs to a terrorist as a 'certainty' and be forced to act - was never spoken. Such a disclosure would have provoked a widening debate over Iraq.

p.166. A one percent chance means that something is 99% likely not to occur - which triggered the need to hide or otherwise manipulate evidence to 'prove' Iraqi WMD. Which brings us back to Sullivan's point.

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