Tenet's Untold Story

George Tenet, the former CIA director who resigned a while ago has been out promoting a new book. Most of the media has spun the book as attacking the Bush administration, however, as Fred Thompson points out, much of what Tenet says is supportive of many of the claims made by Bush and his staff. Naturally, these aren't the kinds of facts you hear reported in the media:

My attention was drawn to Tenet’s statements that al Qaeda is here and
waiting and that they wish nothing more than to be able to see a
mushroom cloud above the United States.

Naturally, the media
emphasis is not on that. Its attention is on any differences Tenet had
with the administration. The media’s premise is that Iraq should not
have been considered a real threat to us and that the administration
basically misled the country into war. While one may take issue with
Tenet on several things, I was intrigued that on some very important
issues, Tenet did not follow the media script when answering Russert’s

On the issue of al Qaeda’s relationship with
Iraq, for example, Tenet said that the CIA had proof of al Qaeda
contact with Saddam’s regime; that the regime had provided safe haven
for al Qaeda operatives and that Saddam had provided training
assistance for al Qaeda terrorists. He went on to say that the CIA had
no proof that the relationship was operational or that they had any
ongoing working relationship — that it could have been that each side
was just using the other. Maybe my recollection is faulty on this, but
that doesn’t seem to be inconsistent with what folks in the
administration said. In other words, there was clearly contact and a
relationship, but no one knew exactly what it meant.

On the
issue of weapons of mass destruction, although Iraq undoubtedly had
such weapons in the past, Tenet acknowledges that everybody got it
wrong as to whether they would have them at the time of the invasion.
On the nuclear issue, he said that the CIA thought that Saddam was five
to seven years away from a nuclear capability — unless he was able to
obtain fissile material from another source.

A couple of
things occur to me here. In the first place, is five to seven years
that far away? Since four years have passed since the invasion, that
would be only a year from now if we had not invaded. If he had been
able to obtain fissile materials, the time could have been much
shorter. There are over 40 countries in the world with fissile material
sufficient to make a nuclear bomb and much of it is unguarded.

War on Terrorism Media Bias Debate
Matthew Sheffield's picture