Thursday :: Feb 5, 2004

How Secure Is Tenet?


by Steve

Just what does George Tenet have on the Bush Administration?

In reading some of your posts today, and now in seeing some of the media coverage of Tenet’s in-your-face tough-guy performance today at Georgetown, the emerging conventional wisdom seems to be that Tenet threw down a gauntlet in defending the Agency against charges that it was inept about Iraq. Tenet clearly stated that the Agency wasn’t bullied into its findings, because in his view their findings as expressed in the October 2002 NIE were properly caveated. Tenet made it clear, in a direct shot at the White House, that the Agency never maintained that Saddam was an imminent threat to the United States, even if we do find WMDs. Tenet stressed that he is the one man who gives George W. Bush intelligence data (take that Rummy), and what "the policymakers" do with it is up to them.

While David Kay and Congress narrow-mindedly finger the Agency for all ills here, Tenet gives a speech not to a congressional committee but to an audience surrounded by friendly faces where he doesn't have to worry about being questioned or challenged by GOP lackeys for Karl Rove. This has not been lost on some observers, who think today’s speech signals that Tenet is laying down a marker to the White House not to push this scapegoating effort any further. It can be credibly argued that any Director (DCI) who had 9/11 and Iraq happen on his watch would be cashiered by now. It also can be credibly argued that any president who allowed these debacles to happen without firing the DCI was himself an inept chief executive, unconcerned about accountability. Yet Tenet feels secure enough to not only not look over his shoulder, but to undercut the White House in defending the Agency.

Sure, Bush doesn’t mind continually telling people with confidence that it doesn’t matter about the intelligence: ‘this was my decision and I would make it again because I am totally convinced as always that I was right.’ Bush has no fear making Iraq into an issue concerning his judgement, and not the intelligence, because Rove has him convinced that voters support him and trust his instincts over the facts. That remains to be seen. But still Tenet remains, somewhat defiant; Bush expresses confidence in him, while soldiers still die in Iraq and the whole concept of preemption collapses due to uncertain intelligence.

Charles K and others have postulated and put forward clips that indicate Tenet remains because as a savvy DCI and a bureaucratic survivor, he knows where the bodies are buried, what lies were told and by whom on Iraq, who ignored the “chatter” and briefings, and who really failed to connect the dots with regard to 9/11. (Condi, white courtesy phone)

At the risk of sounding tin-foilish here, I find myself agreeing with this analysis. Why? There isn’t even any talk inside the Beltway about Tenet getting canned by Bush, and usually if there was a chance of that with this Rovian White House Press Office, such a story would have been leaked by now over the course of the last several months. Yet there is nothing, and Tenet knows that Bush cannot touch him between now and November if in fact Tenet has the goods. After November however….

What do you make of this? What theories do you have?

Steve :: 11:23 PM :: Comments (10) :: Digg It!