Tenet Talks

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Bush Administration, Dick Cheney, Iraq War, War on Terror

Former CIA Director George Tenet’s hotly anticipated book about What He Did to Get Us Into War will hit the shelves on Monday, and the New York Times has an advance copy. Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti write,

George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, has lashed out against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials in a new book, saying they pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a “serious debate” about whether Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States.

The 549-page book, “At the Center of the Storm,” is to be published by HarperCollins on Monday. By turns accusatory, defensive, and modestly self-critical, it is the first detailed account by a member of the president’s inner circle of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the decision to invade Iraq and the failure to find the unconventional weapons that were a major justification for the war.

“There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat,” Mr. Tenet writes in a devastating judgment that is likely to be debated for many years. Nor, he adds, “was there ever a significant discussion” about the possibility of containing Iraq without an invasion.

Well, OK, so we knew that. But it’s nice to have corroboration.

Tenet admits to making the famous “slam dunk” remark that Bob Woodward wrote about in one of his books. But he says it was taken out of context and, in any event, played no part in the decision to go to war.

Mr. Tenet described with sarcasm watching an episode of “Meet the Press” last September in which Mr. Cheney twice referred to Mr. Tenet’s “slam dunk” remark as the basis for the decision to go to war.

“I remember watching and thinking, ‘As if you needed me to say ‘slam dunk’ to convince you to go to war with Iraq,’ ” Mr. Tenet writes.

As violence in Iraq spiraled beginning in late 2003, Mr. Tenet writes, “rather than acknowledge responsibility, the administration’s message was: Don’t blame us. George Tenet and the C.I.A. got us into this mess.”

Shane and Mazzetti say that Tenet portrays President Bush “in a largely positive light” but is much less kind to Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, and others who, before and after 9/11, largely ignored al Qaeda because they were obsessed with Saddam Hussein. Tenet also settles some scores with Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley.

And Tenet corroborates what many former Clinton Administration officials said about the Bushies ignoring warnings that al Qaeda was really, truly dangerous and needed to be made a high priority.

The book recounts C.I.A. efforts to fight Al Qaeda in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks, and Mr. Tenet’s early warnings about Osama bin Laden. He contends that the urgent appeals of the C.I.A. on terrorism received a lukewarm reception at the Bush White House through most of 2001.

“The bureaucracy moved slowly,” and only after the Sept. 11 attacks was the C.I.A. given the counterterrorism powers it had requested earlier in the year.

There’s a bit more background about the book and the “slam dunk” remark in this Washington Post article.

Update: Paul Kiel writes,

George Bush insulates himself from reality! The administration didn’t seriously entertain the notion that Iraq didn’t have WMD’s! Dick Cheney is an asshole!

OK, so the revelations in George Tenet’s new book aren’t going to shock anyone, but they are notable considering the source.

Yeah, pretty much. There was some hope Tenet would reveal something new, but it doesn’t seem that he did.

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11 Comments

10 Comments

  1. ken melvin  •  Apr 27, 2007 @9:47 am

    Why no long line of those claiming to be father of this baby?

  2. maha  •  Apr 27, 2007 @9:47 am

    Ken: It’s a really ugly baby.

  3. po  •  Apr 27, 2007 @10:45 am

    Rather than accept the Medal of Freedom, it would have been nice if Tenet had chosen to put his remark in the ‘proper’ context when it might have mattered. Guess that’s too much to ask.

  4. proman  •  Apr 27, 2007 @11:10 am

    TENNANT WAS A WILLING ACCOMPLISE TO CREATING A FICTOUS CASE THAT IRAQ HAD WMD’S IT WAS HIS JOB TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY DID OR DIDN’T AND IF HE WASN’T SURE IT WAS HIS DUTY TO THE NATION TO DISSENT AND MAKE IT KNOWN THAT THEY DIDNT THE FACT THAT HE DIDNT AND SAID SURE MR PREZ IM A GUPPY I CAN MAKE THE CASE – DOESNT ABSOLVE HIM FROM ANYTHING AND NO ONE CARES ABOUT HIS CAREER

  5. Ian  •  Apr 27, 2007 @11:16 am

    proman, question for you…. Why the all caps? I always see people doing that and I just don’t understand why …

    -me

  6. Swami  •  Apr 27, 2007 @12:32 pm

    Nothing he can say now that excuses what he should have said then..He’s a shitbag trying to cash in on his cowardice. It always fun to blame cheney, but he should doing his own moral inventory.

    I hope his book sales draw similar numbers to Michelle Malkin’s rag..In Defense of Internment

  7. moonbat  •  Apr 27, 2007 @1:03 pm

    Tenet’s book reminds me of a 12 step meeting, where one by one, people start to open up about their own behavior during some terrible time in their past. Agree with what others have said that his particular confessional is too little too late, but at least this group, with the avalanche of confessionals and investigations is starting to sober up.

  8. biggerbox  •  Apr 27, 2007 @1:28 pm

    His new claim is that he didn’t say the war would be a slam dunk, but that ‘punching up’ the presentation on WMDs would be. As if that’s somehow better.

    Considering that there were no WMDs, and it was his job to reflect upwards the myriad caveats and imperfections in the intelligence, his bragging about how easy it would be to sell the already-decided-upon war with more exciting lies seems even more vile and traitorous.

  9. Swami  •  Apr 27, 2007 @8:39 pm

    Hey Maha, seems like someone else agrees with an earlier assessment that you made about two years ago.

    http://msnbcmedia3.msn.com/i/msnbc/Components/Art/COVER/070427/STG_HZ_Curiosity_350p.jpg

  10. Bonnie  •  Apr 27, 2007 @9:38 pm

    Disclaimer: I work with a cousin of Tenet’s. She is one of the nicest and smartest persons I know. He is from a very large Italian-Greek family. I mostly kept my thoughts about him to myself when around her; although, I often sent her various items I found on the internet about him and the war. However, when she told me he was writing a book, I told her it was too little too late. It was too little too late when Powell gave up the ghost. How many years ago was that?

    Keith Olbermann did a segment on it and entitled the segment “Truth Little, Truth Late.” Dick Durbin was part of the segment. I guess Durbin is saying he knew there was no case, which is why he voted no on the AUMF, but couldn’t tell because he was sworn to secrecy. Fat lot of good that does 3,000+ dead American military. Not to mention the billions and billions and billions of dollars spent.

    I’m not hearing anything about Plamegate, which I think is topic he should have covered.

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