Friday, April 27, 2007

Say What?

George Tenet -- beginning the publicity blitz for his account of his days as DCI -- is complaining bitterly about how the administration blamed him and the CIA for the "intelligence failure" regarding Saddam's phantom WMD.

He is saying that his "slam dunk" quote didn't refer to evidence of the existence of banned weapons or weapons programs in Iraq, but rather to the ability of the White House to make a successful case to the public that these weapons were real.

One big problem with Tenet's explanation here. The CIA had lots of evidence that Saddam did not have WMD. Yet he is saying that he was an important participant in the administration's PR campaign to convince the American public that there was an urgent need to attack Iraq.

The CIA is prohibited by law from propagandizing the American people. (I am not claiming that blowback from stories planted overseas doesn't make its way into the American media -- that is one of the workarounds that is long established and accepted by the national security cognoscenti).

The episode just doesn't look good.

Two former CIA officials said the part of the book with the most new information focuses on post-invasion warnings. The book "plowed some new ground as far as agency views and comments on the situation on the ground in Iraq," one official said.

In particular, the readers said, the book describes warnings from the CIA station in Baghdad that were greeted with dismay and mounting suspicion within the White House, including a November 2003 assessment that described the situation as an insurgency.

After that assessment was leaked to the press, Bush summoned Tenet and other CIA officials to the White House and warned that he didn't want anyone in his administration to use the term "insurgency," according to the officials.

Doubtlessly true there. But it gets worse.

Tenet, who served as CIA director for seven years, engages in some hairsplitting over his role in certain controversies. He acknowledges having used the term "slam-dunk," for example, but in his interview with "60 Minutes" he insisted he had not meant that the evidence was unequivocal that Iraq possessed banned weapons — only that he had believed the government could make a compelling case to the public.

Good thing that he received a $4 million advance from HarperCollins for the memoir.

If anybody gets serious about his role in the Info-Op against the American people, he will need the money.


Blogger Meatball One said...


4/29/2007 6:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home