Jane Mayer effectively dismantles the massive lacunae of fact and logic in Marc Thiessen's book defending torture as the only thing that prevented a Qaeda homeland terror attack since 2001. Of course, there had been no such mainstream Qaeda attack from 1993 to 2001 either, with no recourse to torture and with intelligence enough to warn president Bush directly and bluntly that an attack was imminent:

In February, 2001, the C.I.A.’s director, George Tenet, called Al Qaeda “the most immediate and serious threat” to the country. Richard Clarke, then the country’s counterterrorism chief, tried without success to get Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s national- security adviser, to hold a Cabinet-level meeting on Al Qaeda. Thomas Pickard, then the F.B.I.’s acting director, has testified that Attorney General John Ashcroft told him that he wanted to hear no more about Al Qaeda. On August 6, 2001, Bush did nothing in response to a briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.” As Tenet later put it, “The system was blinking red.”

Horton's comments here. Thiessen makes the usual - totally untrue - statements: that the methods seen at Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with the actions authorized by Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld (the Senate Committee begs to differ; that only one victim was subject to "inhumane" treatment - a fact denied by both the Red Cross, by countless witnesses, by photographs that were somehow not destroyed by the government, and by Bush's own prosecutor at Gitmo. The 2004 CIA report on the torture program described it as a failure, not a success; that's why it was largely ended in the last years of Bush. So was Bush endangering the nation as well?

Read the whole thing. Thiessen's book sounds like rationalization of the irrational, like the work of a criminal unable to confess or even recognize his crime, of a political hack who cannot endure a self-image as someone who really did betray the core values of his own country and the entire West - out of fear, panic, and ignorance. Well, he may need his own alternate reality to sleep at night.

But this subject is too serious not to see in the light of reality.

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