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Speed Reading Suskind: Detain'd

Pulitzer-prize winning political writer Ron Suskind's new book, The Way of the World, was released in stores today. The book is chock full of political intrigue and little-reported anecdotes from the past eight years of the Bush administration. We asked Alyssa Rosenberg, a correspondent for Government Executive and TNR speed-reader in residence, to find the hidden treasure in Suskind's 400-page tome. She'll be posting her findings on The Plank over the next few days:

Some of the most striking anecdotes in Suskind's new book revolve around characters quite removed from the upper echelons of power. Early in the book, we meet Usman Khosa, a young Pakistani graduate of Connecticut College working, at the time of the events in the book, at a D.C. consulting firm (he's at the International Monetary Fund now) and living with a gay, Jewish public relations officer and a Catholic economic analyst. In gripping detail, Suskind chronicles Khosa's brisk detention and interrogation after he fiddles with his iPod a little too close to an opening White House gate:

Usman is trundled from the SUV, escorted through the West Gate, and onto the manicured grounds. No one speaks as the agents walk him behind the gate's security station, down a stairwell, along an underground passage, and into a room--cement-walled box with a table, two chairs, a hanging light with a bare bulb, and a mounted video camera. Even after all the astonishing turns of the past hour, Usman can't quite believe there's actually an interrogation room beneath the White House, dark and dank and horrific. He mops the perspiration from his brow. Real sweat. It's no dream.

It's a relief when Khosa gets released-but, as Suskind reports, he walks right back into danger five months later, not from the Secret Service or any other branch of the United States government, but from a pair of Pakistani visitors who want a halal dinner, the raunchiest strip club possible, and to kill Khosa for not being a properly observant Muslim.  If the White House is the frying pan, his countrymen are the fire; in Suskind's telling, there's not a cool spot to be found.

--Alyssa Rosenberg

Speed Reading Suskind, Part 1: Bush's Fatal Flaw