Sunday, April 29, 2007

George Tenet

George Tenet, the former head of the CIA, has a new book coming out, and he's making the rounds of the talk shows to plug it. Tonight he was on 60 Minutes. As a retired Navy cryptologist, I'm very interested in things like that and made it a point to watch.

Tenet made a very passionate case that the CIA was wrongly accused of producing inaccurate intelligence that led to the current war. He made a strong case that war with Iraq was in the planning stages since at least Sept 12, 2001, and that the Bush administration (not Bush himself, evidently) used him as a scapegoat when their war started going wrong. Tenet was pretty convincing.

But there's another side of the story. CNN has published a letter that was written and signed by six former CIA officials that takes Tenet to task for the inaccuracies in his book. Specifically:
- Tenet was "a willing participant in a poorly considered policy to start an unnecessary war";
- Tenet signed a National Intelligence Estimate (this is the Big Thing: an official pronouncement of the best thinking in the entire national intelligence system) that was in line with groundless statements by Dick Cheney and at odds with existing CIA intelligence;
- Tenet testified before Congress that Saddam Hussein had links to Al Qaeda even though the CIA had hard evidence that they didn't;
- Tenet helped the Administration bully analysts into saying the things that supported the Administration's preconceived ideas;
- And a lot more. Most entertainingly, it calls Tenet "the Alberto Gonzales of the intelligence community--a grotesque mixture of incompetence and sycophancy shielded by a genial personality."

You can read the full text of the letter here. It's well worth the time.

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