- 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. (See yesterday's column for all the details.)
But so far, we've gotten mostly hyperbole, innuendo and narrowly constructed denials.
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."
"Classic" indeed: The current administration, and too much of the GOP establishment, moves immediately to smear anyone who dares so much as question them, let alone point out that they are unclothed. One wonders how long before "real" Republicans, "genuine" Republicans--those of a more moderate bent, conservative but not ideological, engaged but not enraged and motivated by impulses other than sheer hatred for "the other" (and they exist: I know a few of them...although I suppose it's possible that they are the last of their kind)--wake up and realize how Bush, Cheney, McCain, et al., have all but destroyed their own party, and to what end?
Or is it already too late--for them and for the rest of us, too?