Thursday :: Feb 5, 2004

Tenet: CIA Never Said Iraq Was An Imminent Threat


by Steve

"David Kay's experience and background make him the ideal person for this new role. His understanding of the history of the Iraqi programs and knowledge of past Iraqi efforts to hide WMD will be of inestimable help in determining the current status of Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons."
--George Tenet, June 11, 2003 on his appointment of David Kay to find Iraqi WMDs.

Tenet will say that anyone who asserts the weapons-hunting Iraq Survey Group has accomplished "85 percent" of its mission, as Kay has said, "is 100 percent wrong," said a senior administration official familiar with the prepared text.
--An Unnamed Senior Administration Official, yesterday, on what George Tenet will say about David Kay.

So this is what it has come to. George Tenet’s handpicked man David Kay was brought in to find WMDs with full White House support because the United States didn’t want to leave the job to the IAEA. After months of looking Kay concludes last week that 85 percent of the work is done in finding Iraqi WMDs, and says that there probably will not be any findings to support most of the assertions made by the Administration in the run-up to the war. He does however do the good soldier routine by saying the White House wasn’t at fault, and that the intelligence community served the president badly, and that there needs to be an independent commission to look into this. The White House initially opposes such an idea, but then relents when they figure out how they can whitewash the whole thing by controlling who gets appointed to it and by limiting what the inquiry focuses on.

So what thanks does Kay get for directing the blame away from the White House? After Kay scapegoats the CIA and by inference the rest of the intelligence community (yes, including Rummy’s Defense Intelligence Agency and his Office of Special Plans) for being wrong in their caveated conclusions about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, Rummy yesterday says Kay is wrong, when months ago he and everyone else said he was the guy to do the job instead of the IAEA. Now today, supposedly with little notice to the White House and no vetting by them of speech, Tenet reemerges to challenge the conclusions of the man he appointed. How did we know this is what Tenet was going to say? Because a “senior administration official” who is familiar with a speech that no one at the White House vetted or had any role in its drafting said so to the Post’s Walter Pincus, who is the CIA’s man at the Post.

So what does Tenet actually say minutes ago? First he says that the CIA did summarize in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate the various findings of the community with caveats, and that there was no pressure on what and how to say it. Secondly, he asserts that the CIA never said Iraq posed an imminent threat.

Ouch.

OK, it’s now back to you George and Dick. Your CIA director just put the onus on you for any claim that Iraq was an imminent threat that required immediate action. The NIE did clearly have caveats that were dropped from the White Paper approved by the White House and given to Congress to support the war resolution.

Memo to George and Dick: be careful how you respond next. If you try and walk away from this by claiming you also never said Iraq posed an imminent threat, there is a documentary record that shows this to be a lie. And if you blame your Churchillian buddy Tony Blair for this, it will cause possibly lethal problems for him right about now.

Steve :: 7:27 AM :: Comments (16) :: Digg It!