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.Krauthammer has my appreciation for reminding us just how inventive Tenet’s book is. It belongs on the fiction list.
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’s column is here.
Hat tip to Mike Williams.