Saturday, May 12, 2007

Krauthammer & the inventive Tenet

Former CIA director George Tenet should have asked pundit Charles Krauthammer to review his just released and much ridiculed book, At the Center of the Storm, in time for Tenet to consider making needed revisions.

Krauthammer writes [excerpts]

Tenet presents himself as a pathetic victim and scapegoat of an administration that was hellbent on going to war, slam dunk or not.
Tenet … assumes no one remembers anything. For example: "There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat."

Does he think no one remembers President Bush explicitly rejecting the imminence argument in his 2003 State of the Union address in front of just about the largest possible world audience?

Said the president, "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent" -- and he was not one of them. That in a post-9/11 world, we cannot wait for tyrants and terrorists to gentlemanly declare their intentions.

Indeed, elsewhere in the book Tenet concedes that very point: "It was never a question of a known, imminent threat; it was about an unwillingness to risk surprise."

Tenet also makes what he thinks is the damning and sensational charge that the administration, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, had been focusing on Iraq even before 9/11. In fact, he reports, Cheney asked for a CIA briefing on Iraq for the president even before they had been sworn in.
This is odd? This is news?

For the entire decade following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq was the single greatest threat in the region and therefore the most important focus of U.S. policy. U.N. resolutions, congressional debates and foreign policy arguments were seized with the Iraq question and its many post-Gulf War complications -- the WMDs, the inspection regimes, the cease-fire violations, the no-fly zones, the progressive weakening of sanctions.

Iraq was such an obsession of the Clinton administration that Clinton ultimately ordered an air and missile attack on its WMD installations that lasted four days. This was less than two years before Bush won the presidency.

Is it odd that the administration following Clinton's should share its extreme concern about Iraq and its weapons? …

Outside of government, the case for war was made not just by the neoconservative Weekly Standard, but -- to select almost randomly -- the traditionally conservative National Review, the liberal New Republic and the center-right Economist. ...

And the most influential tome on behalf of war was written not by any conservative, let alone neoconservative, but by Kenneth Pollack, Clinton's top Near East official on the National Security Council. The title: "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq."

Everyone has the right to renounce past views. But not to make up that past. It is beyond brazen to think that one can get away with inventing not ancient history but what everyone saw and read with their own eyes just a few years ago. And yet sometimes brazenness works.
Krauthammer has my appreciation for reminding us just how inventive Tenet’s book is. It belongs on the fiction list.

Krauthammer’s column is here.

Hat tip to Mike Williams.


Anonymous said...

I think Tenet's memoirs is the scale of Browns of FEMA during the Katrina event.

Anonymous said...

I think those who claim they were misled about the war and their subsequent yes vote are admitting they are incompetent. They are trying to convince me that they trusted a man they claim stole the election from them without doing any investigation of the subject on their own. The Dem presidential candidates have access to all kinds of info that the public does not. I heard Howard Fineman on the Imus show after the Iowa caucusses in 2003 say, "Dick Gephardt looked me straight in the eye and said,'I saw the same info as the President and on that basis I voted for the war in Iraq". This was during Howard Dean's surge and Gephardt was implying that the governor's antiwar popularity was based on insufficient information. Now everyone wants to claim they trusted and were misled by a cunning president. Fine. If the Democratic party wants to claim innocence because they were misled, we should point out they are incompetents who do not think for themselves and are therefore unfit to rule.
Brant Jones

Anonymous said...

I worked for both Army Intelligence and the Naval Investigative Service during the years 1962-95 and had frequent contact with the CIA. They always impressed me as a bunch of elitist ivy-leaguers who wouldn't know the first thing about real intelligence operations. I recall during the late 70's, our Army sources were telling us the Soviet Uniion was internally in turmoil and it looked likely to self-destruct. CIA poo-pooed us and told us the USSR was stronger then than at any time in the past. We all know what happened. Fast forward to the nineties. The CIA was the lead agency in the US and they were the ones pushing the WMD argument right up until the invasion. Of course, virtually every other nation's intelligence service agreed that Saddam had the WMDs, but if the CIA is so bloody capable, why didn't they see through the myth, and why did Tenet say there were WMDs before he said there were no WMDs? That sounds vaguely familiar.

jamal said...

sounds interesting