Posted by Curt on 28 April, 2007 at 7:02 pm. 3 comments already!


George Tenet has now decided to recover his legacy.  He spins his ineptness and bungling of the intelligence community during his reign by stabbing President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the back. 

Mr. Tenet’s book, “At the Center of the Storm”, portrays an administration in which many officials were skeptical about the views of the intelligence agencies. The skepticism put pressure on C.I.A. analysts to reconsider findings that did not suit some policymakers. On occasion, it created back channels and alternative analyses that angered and frustrated Mr. Tenet.

Tensions between intelligence officers and Bush administration policymakers have often been reported. But Mr. Tenet’s account of such clashes fills in many new details, and on Friday, some of his critics began to reply, calling his version of events selective or inaccurate.

Dan Bartlett, the counselor to President Bush, on Friday offered a mild rebuttal of Mr. Tenet’s assertion that there was never a “serious debate” of the Iraqi threat or the consequences of a prolonged occupation.

“The president did wrestle with those very questions,” Mr. Bartlett said on NBC’s “Today” show. He called Mr. Tenet a “true patriot” but said he might not have been aware of all the internal prewar debate.

In the book, Mr. Tenet describes repeated inquiries before the Iraq war from I. Lewis Libby, then Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, and Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense, seeking evidence linking Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

“Some of our analysts, junior and senior, chafed at the constant drumbeat of repetitive inquiries on Iraq and Al Qaeda,” Mr. Tenet wrote.

He describes the C.I.A.’s top analyst, Jami Miscik, complaining that Mr. Libby, Mr. Wolfowitz and other officials “never seemed satisfied with our answers.”

Funny how Tenet was so sure, so damned sure, of the intelligence in 2002.  Victor Davis Hanson points us to this article in 2002 which describes Tenet’s testimony to Congress:

CIA Director George J. Tenet, questioned about the value of ongoing inspections by the United Nations, said there is "little chance you’ll find weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq unless Hussein cooperates with inspectors. On the other hand, Tenet said he would expect U.S. troops "will find caches of weapons of mass destruction, absolutely," were they to invade the country.

If the United States decides not to go to war with Iraq and instead waits on inspectors, Hussein will continue developing weapons of mass destruction, Tenet said. "He will continue to strengthen himself over time," he said. "It never gets any better with this fellow, and he’s never been a status quo guy."
Tenet also elaborated on the CIA’s understanding of Iraq’s link to al Qaeda, a central issue in the administration’s case for going to war against Iraq in the near future, as opposed to waiting months longer for the U.N. inspectors to do more work. Tenet described Abu Musab Zarqawi, the main character in the administration’s case that Iraq is working with al Qaeda now, as it had not done in the past, as a "senior al Qaeda associate." Zarqawi sought medical care in Baghdad, has met with Osama bin Laden, has been financially supported by al Qaeda and has taken "sustenance" from Iraq. But Zarqawi, he pointed out, is not under the control of Hussein.


Both the description of Zarqawi as a threat with al Qaeda links and enjoying sanctuary in Iraq without being under the control of Saddam Hussein seems born out by his later deadly career and blustering letters to al Qaeda heads. So why the contrition now on that casus belli? Al Qaeda was responsible for killing 3,000 Americans; one of its worst terrorists was freely enjoying sanctuary in Iraq; what has changed about that fact?

The New York Times describes a section of Tenet’s book in which he is angry with Michael Ledeen with his efforts to support Iranian dissidents, something which I find incredible.  I mean what the hell?  Shouldn’t our intelligence agencies be doing everything they can to bring about the defeat of one of our biggest enemies. 

Ed Morrissey:

Well, boo hoo. First, it’s ridiculous to call this the "Son of Iran-Contra", since the first Iran-Contra dealt with sending military hardware to the mullahs, not the dissidents. Second, since Iran has postured itself in a state of war against the Great Satan since 1979, why exactly did the CIA skip dealing with the dissidents who could have helped push back against the radical Islamists? The Pentagon apparently understood the necessity of engaging with Iranian dissidents, even if Langley and Foggy Bottom couldn’t figure it out for themselves, and they leveraged those with contacts in that community, including Michael, a CQ reader and a friend of mine.

Given the Intelligence communities complete and utter failure to connect the dots on the growing enemy during the 90’s I cannot feel any sympathy for Tenet.   It was his agency, the CIA, that monitored the 9/11 summit in Malaysia.  A summit which is considered to be the equivalent of the 1957 Appalachin Mob summit.  This summit had these fellows participate:

  • Nawaf al-Hazmi (9/11 hijacker)
  • Khalid Al-Midhar (9/11 hijacker)
  • Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
  • Khallad bin Atash
  • Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali)
  • Yazid Sufaat
  • Ramzi bin al-Shibh
  • Fahad al-Quso

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball stated in their Newsweek article:

The issue is far from academic. The CIA has previously acknowledged that it had asked the Malaysian "Special Branch" to monitor the Kuala Lumpur summit and that the agency even received secret photographs of the Al Qaeda terrorists meeting there. (Immediately after the meeting, two of those present, 9-11 hijackers Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al Hazmi, flew from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok and then onto Los Angeles. That information was soon known to the CIA but never passed along to other U.S. law-enforcement and border agencies that could have placed the two men on a terrorist "watch list" and tracked their activities inside the United States.)

If true, Gunaratna’s claims about Mohammed’s presence would make the intelligence failure of the CIA even greater. It would mean the agency literally watched as the 9-11 scheme was hatched–and had photographs of the attack’s mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, doing the plotting.

KSM being at the meeting is in dispute but there is no doubt this was a meeting of huge importance.  al-Shibh, KSM’s second in command, was definitely at the meeting along with Atash who played a key role in the African bombing AND masterminded the Cole bombing.  Hambali was linked to the 2002 Bali bombing.  This WAS the key meeting which was monitored by the CIA but never passed on.  A CIA agent even dismissed the meeting as unimportant:

"… this continues to be an [intelligence] operation. Thus far, a lot of suspicious activity has been observed but nothing that would indicate evidence of an impending attack or criminal enterprise. Told [the first FBI agent] that as soon as something concrete is developed leading us to the criminal arena or to known FBI cases, we will immediately bring FBI into the loop. Like [the first FBI agent] yesterday, [the second FBI agent] stated that this was a fine approach and thanked me for keeping him in the loop"

Yup.  A who’s who of al-Qaeda meets together and no one put the dots together.  This was Tenet’s agency.  But he’s tired of taking some of the blame for the intelligence failures so he turns on the spin maching by going after agents trying to put Iranian dissidents into place.  Then he displays a selective memory when it comes to AQ connections to Iraq.

Just a pathetic attempt by someone to rehabilitate his legacy at the cost of another’s legacy.

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