Tenet’s ‘Slam-Dunk’

Ernest Hemingway once defined “sin” as “something you feel bad about, afterwards.” On the evidence presented in Richard Clarke’s “Against All Enemies,” and in Bob Woodward’s “Plan of Attack,” Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet ought to have a terminal case of the feel-bads.

There are sins of omission. If DCI Tenet knew in the summer of 2001 that al-Qaida posed an imminent threat to us and did not adequately communicate that threat to President Bush, shouldn’t Tenet now have trouble sleeping at night?

Then, there are sins of commission. If DCI Tenet knew in the fall of 2002 that Saddam Hussein had no nukes or chembio weapons and was not a threat to us, yet assured President Bush the opposite was true, shouldn’t he fell bad enough to resign?

According to Bob Woodward, President Bush insists he had not made a final decision to attack Iraq in early December of 2002. He had found “less than convincing” what he had been told about Saddam Hussein’s alleged attempts to reconstitute nuke and chem-bio programs.

Recall that Gen. Hussein Kamal, director of Saddam’s nuke and chem-bio weapons programs (and also Saddam’s son-in-law), had defected to Jordan back in 1995, carrying with him thousands of supporting documents. Kamal was extensively debriefed by U.N. inspectors and by the CIA.

Tenet was then deputy director of the CIA.

Kamal reported that Iraqis had destroyed all Iran-Iraq War chemical and biological agents and weapons, including the missiles to deliver them. The International Atomic Energy Agency had discovered and destroyed what remained of the unsuccessful Iraqi nuke program. Quoth Kamal, “nothing remained.”

By 1998, the U.N. inspectors were able to report to the U.N. Security Council that Kamal had indeed told the truth. Whereupon several members proposed that the “sanctions” imposed on Iraq in 1991 be lifted.

President Clinton refused to allow it, claiming he had “intelligence” to the contrary about Saddam’s WMD programs.

Tenet had become DCI in 1997.

Then, without sharing that “intelligence” with the Security Council – as he was obliged to do, Clinton proceeded to unilaterally bomb the gee-whiz out of Saddam’s many palaces.

As the bombing was an obvious attempt to assassinate him, Saddam didn’t allow U.N. inspectors to return to Iraq until Nov. 18, 2002. After checking out many alleged “WMD sites,” the U.N. inspectors reported – as they continued to do, each month, right up till the eve of the invasion – that they could find no “indication” that there had been any attempts to reconstruct Iraq’s WMD programs or facilities since 1991, much less since 1998.

According to Woodward, the media reports of smiling Iraqis leading inspectors around, opening up buildings and saying, “See, there’s nothing here,” infuriated Bush, who then would read intelligence reports showing the Iraqis were moving and concealing things.

He was told the “things” the Iraqis were moving and concealing were probably WMD. Finding that “less than convincing,” Bush asked for a more detailed briefing by CIA Deputy Director John E. McLaughlin, which took place on Dec. 21 , 2002.

McLaughlin’s version used communications intercepts, satellite photos, diagrams and other intelligence.

“Nice try,” Bush said when the CIA official was finished. “I don’t think this quite – it’s not something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of confidence from.”

He then turned to Tenet, McLaughlin’s boss, and said, “I’ve been told all this intelligence about having WMD, and this is the best we’ve got?”

“It’s a slam-dunk case,” Tenet replied, throwing his arms in the air.

Bush pressed him again. “George, how confident are you?”

“Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk,” Tenet repeated.

In December 1998, President Clinton had just been impeached by the House for perjuring himself about the nature of his relationship with Monica-chubby and desperately wanted something else on the evening news.

In December 2002, President Bush was looking for an excuse for invading and occupying Iraq that “Joe Public” would buy.

So each president must have rejoiced – or at least slept better – when DCI Tenet confidently assured them he had “slam-dunk” intelligence that the Iraqis were lying and that the U.N. inspectors were gullible incompetents.

But should they have?

Would you have slept better if you had known on Christmas Eve, 2002, that DCI Tenet had confidently assured President Bush a few days before that Saddam had chem-bio weapons, would soon have nukes and would probably give them to al-Qaida?

Do you sleep better, now, knowing that George Tenet is still director of Central Intelligence?

Copyright 2004 WorldNetDaily, reprinted with permission of author.

Read more by Gordon Prather

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.