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An Elegy for Tenet's Tenure

It really is sad that a man who’s done an admirable job has to lose his position because other people are such morons when it comes to dealing with the intelligence out there.

Some people have interpreted the new information from Plan of Attack in such a way as to scapegoat George Tenet for the failings of the administration. Though Tenet likely had some bad information amongst that which he presented the president, it must be noted, to be honest, that the Case Tenet said was a slam dunk is not the case the American people were presented with.

Anybody who's read the book should recall that what got handed to Powell had been given the trial-lawyer treatment by executive branch officials Steve Hadley (deputy for NSA Condi Rice) and Lewis "Scooter" Libby (Chief of staff for V.P. Cheney). They circumvented Tenet, submitting questions in writing directly to CIA agents.

Even before the case shows up, it's clear that it is the Administration and Tenet that are screwing things up. Tenet was telling the president at every opportunity that there was a Terrorist threat looming in 2001. Can he make a president, an entire defense department pay attention?

His people do brilliant work in Afghanistan, and manage to get a widespread spy network going very fast in Iraq, where none had really been.

The intelligence failures of this administration do not tend to fall on Tenet's doorsteps, even when the blame for them does. Tenet did not out one of his own agents. He did not fail to treat the warnings of Al Quaeda activity seriously. He did not elevate Chalabi to George Washington status, nor did he compromise his agency by giving Chalabi's secrets.

If the world was just, Tenet would remain, and the rest of this administration would have resigned. This November, we need to send a message to Washington: Competence and skill matter more than politics and ideology.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2004 6:05 PM