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Suskind releasing transcript of 'forgery' source
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday August 8, 2008

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Author Ron Suskind, whose new book charges that the Bush administration ordered the CIA to forge a letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence linking Iraq to al Qaeda, will now be releasing a transcript of the interview with one of his primary sources to defend himself against charges of inaccuracy.

Suskind told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on Friday, "I've never done this in 25 years as a journalist, but I'm posting transcripts of my conversations with Rob Richer."

Suskin's decision to release the transcripts was first reported by Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein.

Suskind further explained, "Rob can only say from first-hand knowledge that it's from the White House. That means either the vice president's office, the president's office, or the NSC. ... [CIA chief] George [Tenet] came back from the White House one day with, essentially, the memo sheet .. with the mission to create this fabricated letter."

Suskind downplayed Tenet's denials of the story, noting that Tenet has failed in the past to remember things he did not do personally and saying, "What I did on this book, having worked with George on the last book, is I said, 'I need to go to people who have first-hand, active knowledge from their own actions of things that they did.'"

Suskind was extremely appreciative of his two sources for the story, Rob Richer and John Maguire, telling Scarborough, "I said, 'Look, you guys are walking into the hottest fire you can imagine.' They both said ... 'I'm up to it.'" He added, "The government has come down on them. You can just imagine what they're going through. I'm trying to support them. We're sending emails back and forth saying , 'Hey, stick it out.'"

However, Suskind seemed tired of discussing the letter and told Scarborough "I could hug you" for saying there's been too much focus on it.

"The book is really about America finding its moral compass," Suskind explained. "Much of it's about the conflict between power and truth. ... It's really, oddly, about the American character at this moment. ... We bled away some of this precious matter, the moral authority that really underlies power in the world. And how do you get that back? ... I kind of wept as I wrote part of it."

"We are in a global hearts and minds struggle," Suskind continued. "What you find is ... public rhetoric that's often lofty, while its private practices are often low and ugly. They two things ultimately become clear at some point. ... Americans are feeling a crazy disconnect."

This video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast August 8, 2008.

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