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Tilting at Windmills

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April 27, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MORE TENET....The New York Times has a copy of George Tenet's new book ("purchased at retail price in advance of publication"!), and it sounds like it must be a snoozer. Here's about the best thing they could find to excerpt from it:

Mr. Tenet hints at some score-settling in the book. He describes in particular the extraordinary tension between him and Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, in internal debate over how the president came to say erroneously in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.

He describes an episode in 2003, shortly after he issued a statement taking partial responsibility for that error. He said he was invited over for a Sunday afternoon, back-patio lemonade by Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state. Mr. Powell described what Mr. Tenet called "a lively debate" on Air Force One a few days before about whether the White House should continue to support Mr. Tenet as C.I.A. director.

"In the end, the president said yes, and said so publicly," Mr. Tenet wrote. "But Colin let me know that other officials, particularly the vice president, had quite another view."

What else? Tenet now says that the pre-war CIA assessment of Iraqi WMD was "one of the lowest moments of my seven-year tenure." He thinks maybe he shouldn't have accepted his Presidential Medal of Freedom. And he says a small group of insane hawks inside the administration were obsessed with Iraq almost from the moment the Twin Towers fell. None of this is exactly breaking news.

And George Bush? He is "portrayed personally in a largely positive light." Sounds like Tenet still hasn't quite figured out that the cossacks report to the czar.

Kevin Drum 12:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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"Sounds like Tenet still hasn't quite figured out that the cossacks report to the czar."

Medal of Freedom ... sooo shiny!

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on April 27, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

x-post (shakes fist at MaryCh)

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on April 27, 2007 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

"He thinks maybe he shouldn't have accepted his Presidential Medal of Freedom,"... but, "George Bush? He is 'portrayed personally in a largely positive light.'"

Just so we're clear as to what little it takes to buy off this particular CIA chief. Before the book, he was just an embarrassment. Now he's a disgusting embarrassment.


Posted by: chaunceyatrest on April 27, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Coulda woulda shoulda.

Why didn'ja, George?

Posted by: model 62 on April 27, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Does he say anything about the summer of 2001? Was he chomping at the bit waiting for the President to tell him what to do about the Arabs taking flying lessons? Was he trying hard to break through the bureaucratic regulations (i.e. laws) that prevented him sharing information with the FBI?

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 27, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

So not only are they ignorant, arrogant, incompetent fucks, they're boring too. Banality of evil, anyone?

Posted by: CJColucci on April 27, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Times paid retail?

They're a disgrace to their race!

Posted by: Tommy Thompson on April 27, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

First time poster here:

/snark on

I always knew Tenet had a mind like a steel trap.

/snark off

Posted by: Helen Rainier on April 27, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK


marler: Was he chomping at the bit waiting for the President to tell him what to do about the Arabs taking flying lessons?


you mean when the "decider" was fishing?

Posted by: mr. irony on April 27, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

On NPR they just reported that Tenet revealed what was already had inferred -- that there was no discussion about whether Iraq posed a threat to the US as it was irrelevant to their aims.

Posted by: Disputo on April 27, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

A mind like a steel trap? I'd say Tenet had more of a mind like a sponge: parts keep breaking off and washing down the drain.

Ba dum dum,
-Z

Posted by: azion on April 27, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

"And he says a small group of insane hawks inside the administration were obsessed with Iraq almost from the moment the Twin Towers fell"

This from the director of the CIA? I was reading that stuff a whole year before 9/11, during the 2000 campaign. If I recall correctly, it was in a MoDo column (!!), among other places. Was MoDo better informed than the CIA director? I can't decided if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Posted by: jussumbody on April 27, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Don't buy a book from a schnook.

Posted by: petronius on April 27, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

"...how the president came to say erroneously in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa."

Except that it wasn't erroneous.

Posted by: Brian on April 27, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRmarler wrote: "Was he trying hard to break through the bureaucratic regulations (i.e. laws) that prevented him sharing information with the FBI?"

Those "bureaucratic regulations" are a right-wing myth. No such "regulations" prevented the sharing of information.

During the Clinton administration, all the relevant agencies were readily able to share relevant information, which led directly to stopping the Millennium Plot to bomb the LA airport and numerous crucial sites in New York. The reason is that there was leadership from the White House which took the warnings of the Millennium Plot seriously, and convened daily meetings of the principals of the relevant agencies, at which meetings they were told that they had damned well better "shake the trees" at their agencies, be on the lookout for anything and everything unusual, and share that information with the other agencies.

Thus, thanks to leadership from the Clinton White House, when a customs agent at the Canadian border uncovered a car carrying explosives, it was immediately understood by everyone what this meant, and appropriate action was taken which led directly to rolling up and defeating the entire plot.

The reason that did not happen when in the summer of 2001 FBI field agents began sending agitated reports back to DC about suspicious people taking flying lessons -- in the words of one such report, "this seems like a guy who would fly a plane into the World Trade Center" -- is the complete lack of leadership on counterterrorism from the Bush White House, which ignored numerous warnings, including specific warnings about Al Qaeda planning to hijack aircraft in the USA that were personally delivered by the CIA to George W. Bush.

Surely that was the result of grotesque incompetence and negligence, although if Bush and Cheney had wanted to ignore the warnings to deliberately allow a major terrorist attack to occur to provide the "new Pearl Harbor" that PNAC had previously written would be necessary to terrify Americans into supporting an invasion of Iraq, they could not have done any better.

But that's "conspiracy theorizing". Surely, it was merely criminal negligence and incompetence, and not deliberate.

Posted by: Never Happen on April 27, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Brian wrote: "Except that it wasn't erroneous."

That's right. It was not an error. It was a deliberate lie.

Posted by: Never Happen on April 27, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

So, why two posts in the last two days on Tenet's book, both which seem to say "so what?"

If there's no there there, couldn't we get posts on something else? I heard the Congress passed a bill relating to Iraq, and there was a debate among the Democratic Presidential contenders, surely together those warrant more than the brief bit of snark the latter garnered and the complete absence of notice of the former here.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2007 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

I am all for yet another official source for historians to judge these war mongerers, and the Times does say Tenet's book delivers a "devastating judgment."
Plus this comes on the heels of Bill Moyer's new documentary "Buying the War,
which also addresses administration's lies about the run-up to the war.
Not to mention George Tenet and Bill Moyers will be on news shows, so this will stay present.
So what if he says some positive things about how the pResident was in 2001--think of
the book as one more piece of documentary evidence that they took us into an illegal war based on lies.
I heard on NPR that Congress may seek Tenet's testimony relative to the run up to the war.
And Bill Cohen, former Defense Secretary, said today, from the excerpt of Tenet's book, there was little consideration of the imminence of the threat, and further, before you take a nation to war, its sons and daughters, what is the threat, how good is it, is the mission feasible, what is the cost in lives and treasure, is there an exit strategy.
People hear that at the dinner hour, it can only hurt the republican cause. This is all about the administration's credibility, and it comes exactly four years after Bush said "mission accomplished."

Posted by: consider wisely always on April 27, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Brian wrote: "Except that it wasn't erroneous."

That's right. It was not an error. It was a deliberate lie.
Posted by: Never Happen"

Incorrect
, NH.

Posted by: Brian on April 27, 2007 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

If the last 7 years have done nothing else, they've honed my cynicism. I despair over ever hearing anything straight/honest from one of these Washington insiders' mouths.

When backed into a corner, when the screws are put to the Bush administration, just as the jig is up and when it has run out of diversionary tactics, a fall guy or scapegoat happily steps forward to fall on a sword.

This book looks like just another diversionary tactic, another opportunity for Bushies to repeat, yet again, "Everybody thought Iraq had WMD...Clinton did, Great Britain did," etc., just when the oversight committees in the House and Senate are getting to the truth, and when the drumbeat to get out of Iraq is sweeping the country.

Tenet's not saying anything new, not anything reported before. Bob Woodward, in "State of Denial," gave the 'context' that Tenet claims for "slam dunk."

The fact that there were no meetings is also not news, but the Bushies are taking this opportunities to spread out over the air waves and repeat, yet again, "Everybody thought Saddam had WMD," "Clinton thought so," "The Brits thought so," etc.

Isn't it interesting that the one piece of news that has gotten no coverage in the post-debate analysis is Dennis Kucinich's comment, "I don't think that it's sufficient to say that if we had the information at the beginning that we would have voted differently. That information was available to everyone. And, if you made the wrong choice, we're auditioning here for president of the United States. People have to see who had the judgment and the wisdom not to go to war in the first place, and I made the choice not to go to war."

In Woodward's book, "State of Denial," the same intelligence that Bush had was made available to all members of Congress, in a locked and guarded room in the Capitol, but few availed themselves of it.

Somewhere in Washington is a list with the names of those members of Congress who went to that room to examine the intelligence.

Today in the news, we're hearing about the Saudis breaking up Al Qaeda cells, and the CIA turning over an Al Qaeda operative to Guantanamo (months after Bush said that all in CIA custody now at Guantanamo). The CIA refuses to say how or when he was apprehended, but the BBC ereports that he's been in CIA custody since late 2006. Why these announcements now? On a 'Take Out The Trash'-friday?

For those who don't know, George Tenet didn't land out in the cold when he resigned as CIA's director. He was offered and accepted a fat seat on the board of QinetiQ (he's "an independent non-executive director"), which is partly owned by the Carlyle Group.

I am bone weary of all these people.

Posted by: Maeven on April 27, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Give Kevin credit for reporting that Tenet, even with an agenda that would suggest a different approach, provided a positive view of President Bush.

For you folks who disagree with Bush so strongly, can't you accept the fact that he is a good guy? Over the years, it seems like there has been very little in terms of people who worked with him attacking him in any personal sense. Even Woodward generally wrote positively about him as a person.

Posted by: brian on April 27, 2007 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

For you folks who disagree with Bush so strongly, can't you accept the fact that he is a good guy?

No.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 27, 2007 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

For you folks who disagree with Bush so strongly, can't you accept the fact that he is a good guy?

I have yet to see any evidence of this, but have seen plenty of evidence that he is ignorant, self-centered, and casually contemptuous of other people whom he thinks are not quite as "special" as himself, blithely oblivious to his own place of privilege.

If his last name wasn't Bush, none of us would have ever heard of him. And that would be mighty damn nice.

Posted by: josef on April 27, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with josef.

I work with a cousin of Tenet's and I learned that there were family members who thought he didn't deserve the medal of freedom. His cousin is one the nicest people I know; so, I held my tongue regarding him. When she told me he was writing a book, I did tell her it was too little too late.

Posted by: Mazurka on April 27, 2007 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

josef,

I have not heard of any people who have had personal contact with President Bush say the kinds of things you allege. I don't understand why you folks who disagree with Bush's policy always take it to a personal level.

Posted by: brian on April 27, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno. Maybe we just find mass murder, lies, and subversion of the constitution kind of, you know, distasteful. Really sorry to offend!

Posted by: Kenji on April 27, 2007 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

I kinda take that stuff Kenji just mentioned personally. Especially that Constitution part, having spent my whole fucking life in service to that document, I kinda take social contracts seriously. Sorry to be such a buzzkill.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 27, 2007 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

For you folks who disagree with Bush so strongly, can't you accept the fact that he is a good guy?

Worst Mass Murderer of the 21st century (so far)?

Posted by: bungholio on April 28, 2007 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

For you folks who disagree with Bush so strongly, can't you accept the fact that he is a good guy? Over the years, it seems like there has been very little in terms of people who worked with him attacking him in any personal sense. Even Woodward generally wrote positively about him as a person.

I understand that Hitler was kind to animals.

A great deal of effort has gone into managing Bush's image. That includes limiting his appearances to highly controlled venues only. Bush's contacts with everyone but family and very close friends (retainers really, people who owe their incomes in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, to the Bush family fortunes) are carefully staged and scripted. Only journalists who are very friendly to the Bush administration (and very few of them) have been given access to Bush for short face-to-face interviews.

I'd really like to know what you think Woodward has had good to say about him in print. His impatience-driven policies? His shallow intellect? The obsessive fart jokes with Rove? The sadism toward wounded in Tora Bora, that lays the groundwork for tracing Abu Ghraib at Bush's door? Shades of Tucker Carlson's interview with Bush and his mocking impression of Karla Fay Tucker.

Subtle Woodward certainly was in print (what journalist who wants continued entry wouldn't do the same or read between the lines and understand), but I don't believe "nice guy" comes anywhere close to what Woodward believes Bush to be.

Posted by: Maeven on April 28, 2007 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

Brian, of course Saddam was 'wanting' to get uranium from Africa in some nebulous sense that any number of dictators might want, and could well have had his diplomats there ask etc. The problem with the Niger story was, that story wasn't true, and it is wrong to front up a fake even if its about something vaguely true anyway - get it? I do agree that commenters should be more clear on what is to be criticised.

Posted by: Neil B. on April 28, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Also, regarding Bush a basically a "good guy":
a good guy wouldn't rely on a machiavellian creep like Rove - period.

Posted by: Neil B. on April 28, 2007 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Brian, not "all" people who know Bush personally think he's a "good guy". One of my friends had regular contact with Bush in a business capacity and said Bush was the stupidest idiot he had ever met.

Bush comes across as a stubborn, arrogant jerk who has no humility, no empathy, and no intelligence. Maybe he's a "guy to have a beer with." I don't know. Considering Bush's proclivities towards fart jokes and inappropriate behavior (groping the President of Germany?) I really wonder about people who think he's a "nice guy".

Posted by: grumpy realist on April 28, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Let's stop feeding the troll. We'll buy a blue dress for Brian, and then send him away. Since Blue State Red Girl is the primary troll feeder on this thread, I'm delegating thrift store duties to you. Use your best judgement (I'm guessing a size 18), and for god's sake, don't get anything that says "dry clean only".

Posted by: jussumbody on April 28, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Two comments qualifies, eh? Good to know.

I'll get right on that blue dress for Brian. But I kinda figure him for slight and wheezing - more a Kate Moss type than an Emme.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 28, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I mean Blue Girl, Red State. Eversosorry.

Posted by: jussumbody on April 28, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Happens all the time. Not at all thin skinned about it...:)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 28, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

No, girl, he's a wellfed troll. I kind of envision him as the accouting troll with a mouth full of halfchewed human bones from Dilbert, but with a penchant for Chico's.

Posted by: jussumbody on April 28, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Now I have to reconcile that with my image of the wheezy-sounding weasel - er - lawyer from the Simpsons.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 28, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

So aside from various personal attacks and policy disagreements, we get one comment about a friend who supposedly dealt with Bush on business matters and found him an "idiot." So my point stands that there has been very little in terms of people who worked with him attacking him in any personal sense."

Posted by: brian on April 28, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Bush "was like a blind man in a room of deaf people." - Paul O'Neill - The Price of Loyalty 2004

Posted by: mr. irony on April 29, 2007 at 5:30 AM | PERMALINK

Great - a comment by a fired employee, O'Neill, that makes no sense on its face, let alone providing any substantive criticism of Bush as a person.

Posted by: brian on April 29, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK


brian...hows that denial working for ya?

Posted by: Dr. Phil on April 29, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK


brian: For you folks who disagree with Bush so strongly, can't you accept the fact that he is a good guy?


G.W. Bush asked by the Hartford Courant in 1998, "When you're not talking about politics, what do you and your father talk about?" George W. replied without hesitation, "Pussy."

- Salon, 9th April 2000

Posted by: mr. irony on April 29, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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