Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 3, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

WHY DID TENET LEAVE?....Was George Tenet fired or did he resign? As this much-quoted excerpt from the New York Times suggests, he resigned:

Mr. Bush announced the resignation of the 51-year-old Mr. Tenet in a way that was almost bizarre. He had just addressed reporters and photographers in a fairly innocuous Rose Garden session with Prime Minister John Howard of Australia. Then the session was adjourned, as Mr. Bush apparently prepared to depart for nearby Andrews Air Force Base and his flight to Europe, where he is to take part in ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion and meet European leaders some of whom have been sharply critical of the campaign in Iraq.

But minutes later, Mr. Bush reappeared on the sun-drenched White House lawn, surprising listeners with the news of Mr. Tenet's resignation. After Mr. Tenet leaves, the C.I.A.'s deputy director, John McLaughlin, will be acting director, Mr. Bush said.

If Tenet had been fired, surely the announcement would have been a little bit smoother?

But why did he resign? I suppose the most obvious reason is also the most likely: he got a look at the forthcoming Senate Intelligence Commitee report said to brutal about his management of the CIA and decided to get out of Dodge while the getting was good.

On the other hand, Mark Kleiman has some interesting speculation that points in a different direction:

An even more optimistic possibility from the anti-Bush perspective: Tenet wanted to use the fact that the neocons in OSD and the VP's shop and their buddy Chalabi had managed to blow a major cryptographic secret to persuade the President to carry out a purge of the people who have been giving him such bad advice, and quit when he lost that argument.

Hmmm, maybe. First Plame, then Chalabi maybe Tenet was sick and tired of political appointees treating national secrets like trading cards. I don't know if I believe it, but I'd like to believe it. Even from a completely neutral viewpoint, it would be nice to think that there are still officials willing to resign over a matter of principle like that.

Kevin Drum 6:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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