Friday :: Sep 2, 2005

Is Tenet About To Blow The Lid Off 9/11?

by Steve

We now know why Tenet took his medal and ran.

According to a column in Thursday’s Washington Times by former Reagan official John B. Roberts II, things are about to get even worse for Bush, even before we hear what Patrick Fitzgerald has on Rove and Libby. Roberts, who apparently is planting this story as a preemptive move on behalf of Tenet, writes today that Tenet agreed to leave and not write a big money tell-all book on the condition that he didn’t get the blame for 9/11 or the Iraq WMD failures. Bush agreed to give Tenet the additional perk of a presidential Medal of Freedom.

Yet according to Roberts Thursday, the still-confidential June 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report on the 9/11 intelligence failures pins the blame for 9/11 on Tenet and other senior officials for not having a strategy to deal with Al Qaeda. Tenet has provided a point-by-point rebuttal to the IG’s report, both of which are still confidential, yet the report has now been released to Congress this week, and it still blames Tenet and these results have been selectively leaked by Bush’s GOP supporters as a preemptive move to set the frame that the White House was victimized by bad Agency work. As a result of this smear job on Tenet, he has decided to break the agreement he had with the White House and will defend himself, and will throw the ball back into Bush’s lap.

George Tenet is not going to let himself become the fall guy for the September 11 intelligence failures, according to a former intelligence officer and a source friendly to Mr. Tenet.
Mr. Tenet's decision to defend himself against the charges in the report poses a potential crisis for the White House. According to a former clandestine services officer, the former CIA director turned down a publisher's $4.5 million book offer because he didn't want to embarrass the White House by rehashing the failure to prevent September 11 and the flawed intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Tenet, according to a knowledgeable source, had a "wink and a nod" understanding with the White House that he wouldn't be scapegoated for intelligence failings. The deal, one source says, was sealed with the award of the Presidential Freedom Medal.
Now that deal may be off. Mr. Tenet's rebuttal to the report is detailed and explicit. In defending his integrity as CIA director, Mr. Tenet treads perilously close to affirming the account of Richard Clarke, the former NSC terrorism official whose public disclosure of the Bush administration's delay in adopting a strategy against al Qaeda stirred controversy last summer.
In criticizing Mr. Tenet for lack of a strategy to fight al Qaeda, the IG report goes to the heart of the September 11 failure. Mr. Tenet's defense inevitably leads to the sensitive issue of the CIA briefings of the president and other senior officials in the summer of 2001.
In deciding not to become the fall guy, Mr. Tenet has made a fateful decision. The latest salvo in the ongoing wars between the CIA and the White House may be about to burst. Until now, Mr. Tenet has kept silent about what Mr. Bush knew and when he knew it. Mr. Tenet's decision to defend his own role in September 11 puts the White House back in the spotlight. The only way he can push off responsibility is to push it higher up the ladder.
Under normal conditions, Karl Rove would already be taking pre-emptive action. But he is neutralized until the Valerie Plame leak probe ends. That leaves it to the president's allies on Capitol Hill to keep Mr. Tenet's rebuttal under wraps. With the families of September 11 victims demanding disclosure, this will not be easy.
CIA Director Goss is between a rock and a hard place. He will be criticized for covering up if he does nothing. But if he follows the IG's recommendation to convene formal hearings as a prelude to sanctions, Mr. Tenet himself may go public to defend his reputation. The $4.5 million book offer may soon be back on the table, and this time Mr. Tenet might take it.

The Agency may still get a crack at revenge.

Steve :: 12:00 AM :: Comments (15) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!