Monday, April 30, 2007

George Tenet moves From CIA to CYA...Cont.

This will, I am sure be a developing story as more tidbits from his book comes out and interviews. He has already been caught is more than one fabrication in his new role. Not the first but I'm sure not the last to fisk Mr. Tenet and his tome, Christopher Hitchens unloads both barrels. Priceless.His conclusion is also priceless.

A highly irritating expression in Washington has it that "hindsight is always 20-20." Would that it were so. History is not a matter of hindsight and is not, in fact, always written by the victors. In this case, a bogus history is being offered by a real loser whose hindsight is cockeyed and who had no foresight at all.

And we also have Tenets imaginary meeting with Richard Perle at the White House on the morning of 9/12/2001.
On the day after 9/11, he [Tenet] adds, he ran into Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative and the head of the Defense Policy Board, coming out of the White House. He says Mr. Perle turned to him and said: "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility."

Here's the problem: Richard Perle was in France on that day, unable to fly back after September 11. In fact Perle did not return to the United State until September 15. Did Tenet perhaps merely get the date of this encounter wrong? Well, the quote Tenet ascribes to Perle hinges on the encounter taking place September 12: "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday." And Perle in any case categorically denies to THE WEEKLY STANDARD ever having said any such thing to Tenet, while coming out of the White House or anywhere else.

It gets better.
SCOTT SHANE REPORTED in Saturday's New York Times that former CIA chief George Tenet's dramatic description in his book, At the Center of the Storm, of an August 2002 presentation at the CIA by defense undersecretary Douglas Feith and his staff, is at the very least misleading. In order to suggest that Feith's staff was utterly out of its depth, Tenet characterized the main briefer, Tina Shelton, as a "naval reservist." In fact, she had been a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst for almost two decades. Tenet also claimed that Shelton said in her presentation of Iraq-al Qaeda contacts, "It is an open-and-shut case." Shelton and Feith both deny she said that. One person who served in government with Shelton told THE WEEKLY STANDARD today he finds it "inconceivable" that Shelton, an experienced analyst, would have made such an unequivocal assertion.

Stay tuned, this book my be a blockbuster for the publisher but it may prove to be a ball buster for Mr. Tenet. Look for updates.
Update:Today's responses to George Tenet's new book include Rick Richman's "What Tenet knew, when he knew it and whom he told," Tom Joscelyn's "More than enough evidence," Rich Lowry's "George Tenet's slam-dunk," and NR's editorial "Imperfect Storm."

Of course Michael Scheuer, the head of the CIA's Bin Laden Unit, worked with Tenet and takes issue with much of what is more and more looking like revisionist history from Tenet in the Washington Post.

Like self-serving earlier leaks seemingly from Tenet's circle to such reporters as Ron Suskind and Bob Woodward, "At the Center of the Storm" is similarly disingenuous about Tenet's record on al-Qaeda. In "State of Denial," Woodward paints a heroic portrait of the CIA chief warning national security adviser Condoleezza Rice of pending al-Qaeda strikes during the summer of 2001, only to have his warnings ignored. Tenet was indeed worried during the so-called summer of threat, but one wonders why he did not summon the political courage earlier to accuse Rice of negligence, most notably during his testimony under oath before the 9/11 commission...

..."I was talking to the national security adviser and the president and the vice president every day," Tenet told the commission during a nationally televised hearing on March 24, 2004. "I certainly didn't get a sense that anybody was not paying attention to what I was doing and what I was briefing and what my concerns were and what we were trying to do." Now a "frustrated" Tenet writes that he held an urgent meeting with Rice on July 10, 2001, to try to get "the full attention of the administration" and "finally get us on track." He can't have it both ways.

But what troubles me most is Tenet's handling of the opportunities that CIA officers gave the Clinton administration to capture or kill bin Laden between May 1998 and May 1999. Each time we had intelligence about bin Laden's whereabouts, Tenet was briefed by senior CIA officers at Langley and by operatives in the field. He would nod and assure his anxious subordinates that he would stress to Clinton and his national security team that the chances of capturing bin Laden were solid and that the intelligence was not going to get better. Later, he would insist that he had kept up his end of the bargain, but that the NSC had decided not to strike.

Since 2001, however, several key Clinton counterterrorism insiders (including NSC staffers Richard A. Clarke, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon) have reported that Tenet consistently denigrated the targeting data on bin Laden, causing the president and his team to lose confidence in the hard-won intelligence. "We could never get over the critical hurdle of being able to corroborate Bin Ladin's whereabouts," Tenet now writes. That of course is untrue, but it spared him from ever having to explain the awkward fallout if an attempt to get bin Laden failed.

As I am wont to say, read it all as well as the links to other views. I am reminded of a quote by Patrick Moynihan "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts"