Saturday :: Jul 12, 2003

What Did Tenet Really Say?


by Steve

The long and short of what George Tenet did yesterday is this. He is accepting responsibility for his subordinates agreeing to NSC demands that the SOTU pin the African uranium story on the Brits. Tenet is saying that the CIA should have demanded that the uranium/African countries reference be deleted since the CIA had no first-hand knowledge of what the Brits knew. Why? Because the Brits have never shared their intelligence with us on this to this day. Since the British September 2002 report was issued, the US has never obtained, nor have the Brits given us the corroboration of their own claims. And if you are to believe this, no one in the Bush Administration tried very hard in the run-up to the SOTU to corroborate what the Brits said in September 2002. We took it on faith because it met the political agenda of the cabal in power.

Tenet is not saying that the CIA didn’t tell everyone there was a problem with the Niger uranium claims; the Miami Herald is saying today that the CIA in fact did tell everyone that the story could not be substantiated. And between Tenet’s statement yesterday and Condi Rice’s own comments in the Herald piece, it is clear that it was her staff that worked with the CIA to get the sentence to a point where Tenet’s subordinates could sign off. All Tenet did yesterday was to say that the Agency should never have approved a sentence where the NSC pointed to the Brits when the CIA itself has never verified the claim in the first place.

None of this changes the basic point that the NSC pushed to keep a sentence in the SOTU that has never been substantiated, and that falls on Condi Rice’s head more than George Tenet’s. All Tenet can do is take a bullet for his subordinates, who got pushed into a corner by the NSC. No one in the Bush Administration has demanded proof of what Tony Blair says he has, which his own Parliament is now demanding. And when you look at the Iraq section of the SOTU, you realize that none of the key allegations which were the basis for war have been proved to this day, even after months of “boots on the ground” looking for evidence.

And that is a damning indictment of not only George Tenet, but also Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and the whole Administration, right up to Bush himself.

We already know that Condi lied to Russert on Meet the Press, as I noted several weeks ago. Perhaps Tim will employ the same level of scrutiny and skepticism of Rummy tomorrow that he did to Howard Dean several weeks back. Send Russert an email today demanding that he do so. He can be reached at mtp@nbc.com.

Folks who are worried that the media will move on now, as Bush tries to stomp out their inquiries may not fret: the media appears to be moving over to the specious claims about the Saddam-Al Qaeda link.

And the Washington Post poll released today shows that Bush has lost the voters on his credibility regarding Iraq: fifty percent of those polled now think that Bush intentionally exaggerated the WMD evidence to get us into a war.

The lack of integrity in the Administration will finally become a campaign issue that even Karl Rove cannot run away from.

Steve :: 1:58 PM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!