George "Slam Dunk" Tenet Seeks To "Salvage" His Reputation
Former CIA Director, George "Slam Dunk" Tenet is spending this weekend on 60 MINUTES and with a new book to somehow "salvage" his reputation when the facts are he was nearly as wrong as anyone else in the Bush Administration about WMDs in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Tenet may have offered some caution for Bush and especially, Cheney, not to overstate some intelligence about Iraq. But beyond that, Tenet did little to stand in the way of the Bush Administration's steady drumbeat for war. Tenet even helped Gen. Colin Powell, then Secretary Of State, in the compilation of information to present at the U.N. that Saddam Hussein supposedly had WMDs. Now to hear the revisionist Tenet speak, he was taken advantage of and made the scapegoat by the Bush Administration. Amazing.
Tenet was the second longest serving CIA Director in American history. And no doubt, each and everyday he provided invaluable service to the nation, protecting our nation from external threats of all types. But his personal anguish over Iraq, which probably played a key role in his 2004 exit from the CIA in June, can't really completely erase his role in the steady drumbeat to war from this administration.
Tenet did long warn of threats from Al Qaeda prior to 9/11 besides providing invaluable intelligence about the North Korean nuclear weapons program. But the Bush Administration appeared to be out to lunch on both issues, and much more focused on Iraq. Tenet does make a credible case that he long warned of the threat from Al Qaeda, which fell on mostly death ears for an administration completely obsessed with starting a new war in Iraq, and not with the small Al Qaeda organization.
From day one, this administration which was heavily comprised of oil and defense industry interests had actively sought some plan to get the U.S. involved in Iraq, according to fomer Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. As far back as January of 2001, O'Neill was suprised at the absolute obsession with Iraq among the new Bush Administration members. But this was hardly surprising. This administration was basicly a coup by big oil and defense cotractor interests involving members of the Project For The New American Century, a neoconservative organization including Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, and others from this organization who comprised the nucleus of the Bush Administration's foreign and military policy organization. A full 43 members of this administration were allied with the oil industry as either executives or major stockholders, and 33 were similiarly aligned with the defense contractor industry. Defense contractors wanted this war because they couldsell plenty of arms and a new Iraq war would be a huge cash bonanza. It was the ultimate in insider trading to appreciate their own corporate profits and stock values. Big oil wanted this war because Iraq has perhaps the world's largest undiscovered oil supplies, estimated to be as much as 229 billion barrels, or a 98 year supply for the U.S.
Tenet may indeed have a minor point in that Cheney and others in the Bush Administration ran with whatever intelligence existed about Iraq. But under Tenet, the CIA did actively pay some like convicted criminal , Ahmed Chalabi, for monthly "intelligence" reports about Iraq, which turned out to be mostly nonsense and wrong facts simply to collect a monthly payment. Chalabi had previously been convicted in Jordan for his role in the nation's worst banking fraud scandal, yet the CIA continued to pay this refugee from justice in Jordan for his monthly nonsense reports.
There may be about a dime's worth of difference between the gung ho drumbeat to war from the Bush Administration's neocons and Tenet's aid that he offered Secretary Of State Colin Powell for his grossly wrong intelligence report before the UN about Saddam Hussein's WMDs that helped to justify this war. But somehow Tenet will act angry enough on Sunday's 60 MINUTES, claiming he was completely taken advantage of. But when intelligence mistakes were at least partially his fault, then it's hard to be suddenly seen as somehow not part of the problem that got the U.S. involved in Iraq.
Tenet's segment on 60 MINUTES will prove to be newsworthy television. But it also needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt that Tenet may have meant well for the nation, but was just as wrong as anybody else about the WMDs. But Tenet was also used by the Bush Administration neocons as well, and whether this is enough grounds to offer him some forgiveness in the history books is sort of a very thin premise to argue. Wrong by 90%, rather than by 100% isn't too strong of a premise to seek public and historical forgiveness from. But with his 60 MINUTES interview and undoubtably other interviews, and his new book, Tenet will certainly try to rescue his place in American history and "salvage" his name.