The Price of Loyalty

The Price of Loyalty

"The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill," a 2004 book, described the Bush administration during Paul O'Neill's tenure as Secretary of the Treasury. Written by former "Wall Street Journal" reporter Ron Suskind, the book says Bush's economic policies were irresponsible, Bush was unquestioning and uncurious, and the war in Iraq was planned from the first National Security Council meeting, soon after the administration took office.

The book was based on extensive interviews with O'Neill and numerous documents O'Neill received during his job as Treasury Secretary.

O'Neill harshly criticizes the President, blasting his economic policies and alleged "detachment" from the cabinet process. He described Bush's behavior at cabinet meetings as being like "a blind man in a roomful of deaf people. There is no discernible connection."

O'Neill was frustrated about what he perceived to be a lack of vigorous debate between administration officials and the formation of sound, coherent policy on the important issues. He longed for the return of the "Brandeis briefs" that were used in the Nixon and Ford administrations in which he had previously worked.

The book also claims that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was not a reaction to the attacks of September 11, but was instead a campaign in the planning stages ever since Bush took office, with potential oil spoils charted in early documents.

Rather than denying his allegations, Bush officials attacked O'Neill's credibility, while answering that regime change in Iraq had been official U.S. policy since 1998, three years before Bush took office. However, O'Neill's claims called into question the relationship of the Iraq occupation to the post-9/11 War on Terrorism.

After documents containing classified information were shown during a "60 Minutes" interview in which O'Neill promoted the book, a Department of Treasury investigation concluded in 2004 that no laws were violated, but that inadequate document handling policies at Treasury had allowed 140 documents, which should have been marked classified, to be entered into a computer system for unclassified documents. The documents were amongst those subsequently released to O'Neill in response to a legal document request. []

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* ISBN 0-7432-5545-3

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