As Bad as You Thought

The One Percent Doctrine

Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11

Ron Suskind

Simon & Schuster, $27, 367 pp.

The One Percent Doctrine, Ron Suskind’s anatomy of the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” reads more like a thriller than the serious journalism it is. A former Wall Street Journal reporter, Suskind has a firm grasp on the dramatic aspects of his subject, and his book-a largely chronological narrative of the actions of the Department of Defense and various intelligence agencies since September 11, 2001-vibrates with suspense. Indeed, if we did not receive daily reminders from FOX News and CNN that what Suskind is writing about is real, it would be all too easy to mistake The One Percent Doctrine for the work of John le Carré or Robert Ludlum.

Suskind packs his book with all the elements of a good spy story. There are rumors of horrific sci-fi weapons-like the mubtakkar, designed to disperse hydrogen cyanide within the crowded confines of a subway station or shopping mall. There is the inside man, “Ali,” the Al Qaeda operative who tipped off the U.S. government to the location of a terrorist leader, and who now lives comfortably somewhere in the American hinterland, with $25 million in the bank. There is even the unwitting journalist caught up in the adventure, an Al Jazeera reporter kidnapped and taken to interview two of Al Qaeda’s most notorious leaders just months after September 11.

Like any good thriller, The One Percent Doctrine has its protagonist-hero. Suskind’s narrative revolves around the...

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About the Author

Nick Baumann is the news editor for Mother Jones.