George Tenet, former DCI upon whom President Bush bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 in spite of Tenet’s CIA missing the signs that pointed to 9-11 in 2000 and 2001, has turned coat and is now recanting his “slam dunk” pre-war WMD assessment. As I’m sure you’ve heard.
Tenet should have been fired on 9-12-2001, but instead he becomes merely the latest in a long line of ex-officials to have concluded that the path to riches and re-acceptance into polite society is to stab the president in the back over the war. Tenet can rest assured that the Bush administration won’t push back, and will allow its remaining support to continue to bleed away rather than defend itself and thereby, the war. So it’s left to Victor Davis Hanson to do the work the American administration won’t do, and push back.
CIA Director George J. Tenet, questioned about the value of ongoing inspections by the United Nations, said there is “little chance you’ll find weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq unless Hussein cooperates with inspectors. On the other hand, Tenet said he would expect U.S. troops “will find caches of weapons of mass destruction, absolutely,” were they to invade the country.
If the United States decides not to go to war with Iraq and instead waits on inspectors, Hussein will continue developing weapons of mass destruction, Tenet said. “He will continue to strengthen himself over time,” he said. “It never gets any better with this fellow, and he’s never been a status quo guy.”
Tenet also elaborated on the CIA’s understanding of Iraq’s link to al Qaeda, a central issue in the administration’s case for going to war against Iraq in the near future, as opposed to waiting months longer for the U.N. inspectors to do more work. Tenet described Abu Musab Zarqawi, the main character in the administration’s case that Iraq is working with al Qaeda now, as it had not done in the past, as a “senior al Qaeda associate.” Zarqawi sought medical care in Baghdad, has met with Osama bin Laden, has been financially supported by al Qaeda and has taken “sustenance” from Iraq. But Zarqawi, he pointed out, is not under the control of Hussein.
That’s from a February 12, 2002 Washington Post article by Dana Priest. The phrase “slam dunk” never appears, but the beliefs do: Tenet says clearly that we will absolutely find caches of WMDs after invading Iraq. Which we have, here and there, though not to anyone’s satisfaction.
Both the description of Zarqawi as a threat with al Qaeda links and enjoying sanctuary in Iraq without being under the control of Saddam Hussein seems born out by his later deadly career and blustering letters to al Qaeda heads. So why the contrition now on that casus belli? Al Qaeda was responsible for killing 3,000 Americans; one of its worst terrorists was freely enjoying sanctuary in Iraq; what has changed about that fact?
Nothing has changed about that. Absolutely nothing. The one thing that has changed is the political winds, which are now blowing at hurricane force against an administration that irresponsibly still refuses to defend itself against liars like Tenet.
Update: Link fixed.