Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

"DOESN'T UNIQUELY COMPORT"....George Tenet is not happy with Dick Cheney. And after today's congressional testimony, I imagine Dick Cheney is not especially happy with George Tenet either. First, we have this account from the New York Times:

George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, told a Senate committee today that he had privately intervened on several occasions to correct what he regarded as public misstatements on intelligence by Vice President Dick Cheney and others, and that he would do so again.

"When I believed that someone was misconstruing intelligence, I said something about it," Mr. Tenet said.

He identified three instances in which he had already corrected a public statement by President Bush or Mr. Cheney or would do so, but left the impression that there had been more.

One of those instances was the "uranium from Africa" reference in the 2003 State of the Union speech and the second was Cheney's continuing insistence that we've found evidence of mobile weapons labs in Iraq. Then Ted Kennedy asked him about the infamous Doug Feith memo that Cheney cited a few weeks ago regarding the "connection" between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Here is Knight-Ritter's report:

"Senator, we did not clear the document," replied Tenet. "We did not agree with the way the data was characterized in that document."

Tenet, who pointed out that the Pentagon, too, had disavowed the document, said he learned of the article Monday night, and he planned to speak with Cheney about the CIA's view of the Feith document.

And finally, although Tenet at first said that he didn't think the administration had misrepresented the intelligence on Iraq, he then added a bit of, um, nuance to that assertion:

Tenet added that sometimes language used by policymakers in public "doesn't uniquely comport" word for word, with the complex, more nuanced intelligence community language. "....I lived up to my responsibility," he said.

Doesn't uniquely comport. I like that. I'll have to remember it the next time I'm testifying under oath or giving a major address to the American people or something.

UPDATE: By the way, read the last seven paragraphs of the Knight-Ridder piece. Those are unusually bald assertions for a straight news piece, especially since they don't include the usual "according to sources" or "some critics say" pretense. Someone's been eating his Wheaties....

Kevin Drum 6:04 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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