May 01, 2007

Tenet's Tenets are Still Sound

Former CIA Director George Tenet has released a book, and now Tenet is getting whacked around pretty good. Tenet's book, "At the Center of the Storm," alleges that there was no debate inside the White House before invading Iraq, and that Tenet's pre-9/11 warnings of a pending terrorist attack in the U.S. were ignored.

Critics of George Tenet have appeared on all sides of the political spectrum. Some even say that Tenet has blood on his hands for helping to allow the U.S. to go to war in Iraq. Six former CIA officers have written to Tenet, asking him to give back his Medal of Freedom awarded by George W. Bush, and to donate proceeds of his book to the families of U.S. soldiers who have been killed and wounded in Iraq.

Many of the criticisms of Tenet are fair, especially that he was an enabler of George Bush, Dick Cheney and the other Bush Administration officials who neoconned us into the Iraq War. Despite Tenet's comments now that he never told the Bush Administration of a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq, he sat behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in February 2003 when Powell made his presentation to the U.N. Security Council alleging that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda. Tenet also admits using the phrase "slam dunk" regarding Iraq, although Tenet says he was referring to the selling of the Iraq invasion to the American people rather than the ease of invading and occupying Iraq, which is the meaning Dick Cheney and others have attributed to Tenet's phrase. Even if Tenet is right, the CIA Director has no business helping a President sell a war.

However, the valid criticisms against Tenet do not dilute the importance of his comments about White House scheming before 9/11 and the Iraq War. Tenet says that he warned National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice in July 2001 that Al Qaeda was planning imminent, multiple, spectacular terrorist attacks in the United States. Former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke also testified before the 9/11 Commission that he warned Rice about Al Qaeda throughout 2001. Several days after Tenet's warning to Rice, the CIA prepared the famous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing for George Bush, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike In U.S." Rice buried these warnings, and then lied about it to the 9/11 Committee, saying that the August 6 PDB was merely a "historical document." That to me is the biggest sin anyone committed regarding either 9/11 or the Iraq War, since paying proper attention to Tenet's and Clarke's warnings could possibly have prevented the 9/11 attacks.

The second biggest sin was the pack of lies told by Bush, Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush Administration officials and advisors to sell the Iraq War to the American people. While they spoke about WMDs, mushroom clouds, and phony links between Al Quaeda and Iraq in the wake of 9/11, in truth they planned to invade Iraq for strategic reasons well before 9/11. Tenet corroborates this, and so do others, including Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil.
The biggest criticism I can direct against George Tenet is that he did not resign and tell his story sooner. Even if Tenet was trying to effect change from the inside, as he claims, it was apparent years ago that his arguments were not carrying the day. Nevertheless, George Tenet's complicity in the Iraq War pales in comparison to the sins of the people at the top of the Bush Administration, who took their power to keep us safe and twisted it for their own ideological and political purposes. On that note, Tenet's story is important to tell.


At 1:05 PM, Blogger Jenny said...

Great assessment of this issue... even if you think Tenet is an idiot, or responsible for the war, even just self-serving and evil, it's important to look beyond it at what he's ACTUALLY SAYING - this administration has lied to us time and time again.

Ran across this Reuters clip on this story - it has some pretty good background of Tenet's work:

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Tenet could find himself in a very lonely position as he takes the $$ from his book sales to the bank. He obviously has no further friends in the Bush administration and yet I'm not sure if he has found a new camp to join. The things he has revealed in his book make me hate the current administration even more and wish we could kick their sorry asses out sooner.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

It's a convenient trap to fall into, attacking the messenger and then forgetting his underlying message. The Bush Administration repeatedly does this to people who disagree with them -- Richard Clarke, John Murtha, Joe Wilson and now George Tenet -- in the hope that we will be distracted by their underlying message, which, you will notice, never gets refuted on the merits.

At 5:31 AM, Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

I think it's Lincoln said about debating. If you want to dispute Euclid's theorem about right triangles, you don't do it by calling Euclid a liar. But the Bushies never got that memo...just like the never got the pre-9/11 memos, apparently.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger media concepts said...

I think Karl Rove's theorem is exactly the opposite: if you want to disprove Euclid's Theorem and you know you cannot, just call Euclid a liar enough times, and he and his theorem will be discredited. It worked very well for a while.


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