by Richard Stern
A bit too much beef on George Tenet. A bit too much of everything, gestures, words, passion, too many professions of devotion to the wonderful men and women of CIA, to his own unremitting labor, his day-and-night brooding about al Qaeda. How this beefy, expressive gentleman has worried about what more he could have done, how prevented 9/11, how capture bin Laden and Zawahiri. God knows he tried: He put the warning of imminent, bloody al Qaeda deeds into Condi Rice's hands weeks and weeks before 9/11, and what did she do but turn it over not to the president but to her deputy? Instead of up and at'em, it was down and forgotten. Sure he saw the president every day but he couldn't tell him directly about the danger: "That isn't the way Washington works." Our Paul Revere is a decorous and deferential fellow who, unlike the villains he tracks, doesn't break the rules. Shall he go behind Condi's back upsetting her and the president by telling him that the fuses are lit and about to set off the TNT? Georgie Porgie may have kissed the girls and made them cry. Not our Georgie.
If they just could have connected those dots.
What did they do to our George (they being not Osama and Company but those in the White House who leaked his slam dunk remark to Bob Woodward)? They threw him overboard, they turned him into a bouc emissaire, they claimed his decontextualized remark was enough to launch the 1,000 ships and burn the topless towers of ... oops, Baghdad!!
Where did that come from, this agenda before the Agenda? Our George had run into Itchy-Richie Perle emerging from the White House on September 12 and Richie had told him it was on to Baghdad. "I'm Greek and Greeks love conspiracies," said our George, but how this happened he will not explain in such terms. "There never was a serious meeting about it that I know."
It's years later now, and Uncle Dick Cheney shouldn't still be attributing the war decision to our George's slam dunk remark. "That's dishonorable," says an angry George. So he writes his insider book, and italicizes yet another heap of careless, arrogant, lethal stupidities for the bumbling, stumbling record of G. W. Bush of Midland, Texas, and R. Cheney of Casper, Wyoming.