Tenet’s War

Well, now that you’ve seen the Frontline expose, entitled “Bush’s War,” based upon documentary videos and more than 400 extended interviews with major participants and media sycophants, you may yet have a few unanswered questions.

Chief among them is the question many of those major participants and media sycophants have asked (or certainly ought to have asked): Namely,

“How could George Tenet, then Director of Central Intelligence, and publisher of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate – which judged ‘with high confidence’ that Iraq was ‘continuing,’ perhaps even ‘expanding’ its ‘nuclear programs’ – have sat behind Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was making the case before the UN Security Council for a declaration of war to ‘disarm’ Iraq, smugly confident that the Iraq Survey Group, which would be in the vanguard of American invasion forces, would quickly find incontrovertible proof that Saddam Hussein had somehow acquired – or soon would acquire – nuclear weapons?”

After all, Mohamed ElBaradei – Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency – had already publicly discredited both of the specific nuclear “smoking guns” of Tenet’s 2002 NIE, namely “yellowcake from Niger” and “aluminum-tubes” for Uranium-enrichment.

On March 7, ElBaradei formally reported to the Security Council that;

“After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.”

Okay, Tenet’s 2002 NIE on Iraq – which was the basis for the Congressional resolution authorizing the use of U.S. armed forces against Iraq – had been totally discredited by the inspectors sent into Iraq by the Security Council.

So there would be no Security Council resolution authorizing Bush to invade Iraq.

Hence, Bush was going to have to prove to Congress that it was “necessary” to invade Iraq, in order to “defend” America from the “smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom-shaped cloud.”

So, on March 17, Bush addressed the nation thusly;

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.

“The danger is clear: Using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other.”

Then, three days later Bush announced to the world that we and our “allies” had already begun the invasion of Iraq.

“The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.”

The job of finding those “weapons of mass murder” that “Slam-Dunk” Tenet had assured Bush and Cheney, members of the White House Iraq Group, and (presumably) Congressional Leaders was entrusted to a CIA-sponsored Iraq Survey Group, headed for some mysterious reason by David Kay, a political scientist, who had labored as a UN bureaucrat from 1986 until late 2001, when he mysteriously was appointed Deputy Director of the IAEA Action team on Iraq, a position he held very briefly and from which he may have been fired.

Of the 400 plus interviews upon which “Bush’s War” is allegedly based, those with David Kay are key.

Kay relates that within days of arriving in Iraq to be Tenet’s personal envoy and to direct the activities of the ISG, Kay began sending Tenet emails, expressing his doubts that they were going to discover the stuff, particularly the nuke stuff, that “Slam-dunk” had assured Kay he would find.

So, within a few months Kay found himself back at CIA headquarters, in Virginia, consigned to an “office” containing many boxes “in storage,” with a “non-working telephone,” assigned a secretary “who rarely ever showed up.”

Before long Kay found himself out of a job and on January 28, 2004, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Kay testified he had apparently been selected to direct the ISG because he “came not from within the [Bush-Cheney] administration” and was known for having “a sometimes regrettable streak of independence.” Kay said he had “absolutely no pressure” applied, either prior to, during or after his tenure as ISG director.

Senator Kennedy then asked Kay what access he had to “intelligence” reports before going to Iraq to direct the ISG.

David Kay replied “I had full access to everything in the intelligence community with regard to Iraq.”

And, of course, David Kay had “full access” to every report made by the IAEA about Iraq’s nuclear programs, going back to the discovery in 1991 that Iraq had pursued programs that never amounted to much, but ought to have been declared, and weren’t.

Hence, David Kay (and all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee) knew that virtually everything of a nuclear nature contained in even the classified 2002 NIE had been totally discredited.

So, what was it that David Kay expected to find (and that Slam-Dunk Tenet expected him to find) within a few days of arriving in Iraq in the vanguard of our invasion force that Kay didn’t find and soon realized he was unlikely to ever find?

Well, harken back to the publication of a book – State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration by James Risen – that President Bush allegedly attempted to prevent.

According to Risen, back in 2000, under President Clinton, the CIA sent a “Russian defector” to IAEA headquarters in Vienna with slightly modified “technical designs for a TBA 480 high-voltage block,” a semi-critical component of certain “Russian-designed” nuclear weapons, with instructions to give them to the Iranian delegate to the IAEA.

Why would the CIA do such a thing? Perhaps so “Slam-dunk” Tenet could at some future time sit there smugly behind some future Secretary of State, secure in the knowledge that a future Iran Survey Group would quickly find “evidence” in Iran’s files of nuclear-weapon collaboration with Russia?

But what if the Iranians destroyed – as they apparently did – the “evidence” Tenet thought he planted there?

Okay, next time, plant the actual semi-critical components of Russian nuclear weapons, themselves, not just the designs, somewhere in Iraq where the Iraqis, themselves, would be unlikely to accidentally find them? Then tell David Kay where to look?

Nah; that’s too Hollywood.

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.