Friday, April 27, 2007

Tenet speaks: the interesting parts

George Tenet has written a book that admits his errors but fingers Cheney as the fount of evil. He says, like every other former insider, that Bush and Cheney never gave any serious thought to anything but invading Iraq. I believe that, but that's not the interesting part of NYT summary of the book. There are only 4 statements in the article that are interesting:
Ex-C.I.A. Chief, in Book, Assails Cheney on Iraq - New York Times

...Mr. Tenet takes blame for the flawed 2002 National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq’s weapons programs, calling the episode “one of the lowest moments of my seven-year tenure.” He expresses regret that the document was not more nuanced, but says there was no doubt in his mind at the time that Saddam Hussein possessed unconventional weapons. “In retrospect, we got it wrong partly because the truth was so implausible,” he writes.

... He also expresses skepticism about whether the increase in troops in Iraq will prove successful. “It may have worked more than three years ago,” he wrote. “My fear is that sectarian violence in Iraq has taken on a life of its own and that U.S. forces are becoming more and more irrelevant to the management of that violence.”...

... 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...

...Mr. Tenet expresses puzzlement that, since 2001, Al Qaeda has not sent “suicide bombers to cause chaos in a half-dozen American shopping malls on any given day.”...
I'll comment on each interesting part. For the record, I think we forget the powerful influence Tony Blair had on many democrats in the fall of 2001. Even then we didn't trust Bush at all, but Blair we trusted. We weighed his opinions very seriously and we were wrong to do so.
  1. To the best of my knowledge the "truth" is that the UN inspections worked, but Saddam kept the story of WMDs alive to keep Iran at bay. It's possible he also thought he had more capability to resurrect WMDs than he had at that point. Seems plausible only in retrospect.

  2. He's casting his vote for a deadline to leave Iraq.

  3. Tenet is leveling a very serious charge at Bush -- that he and his team neglected warnings of an imminent threat, presumably because they were coming out of an administration they despised. He's not the first to say this. Arguably, this is among the greatest of the many sins of Bush/Cheney, and like all their sins it was rooted partly in arrogance and hatred.

  4. Tenet is not the only one to wonder what the heck happened to al Qaeda in America.

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