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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tenet controversy; former colleagues say "he's lying"

What was supposed to be a severely critical book on the president and the decision to invade Iraq has turned into a CYA moment in time for George Tenet. Despite the glaring factual inaccuracies that have been debunked by crtitics of his, Captain Ed noted there's more to this yesterday when one of his most serious critics stepped forward and said George Tenet's lying his butt off:

Lehrer asked about the half dozen former CIA officials who signed a joint letter deploring Tenet’s book, as well as Michael Scheuer, former head of the agency’s Osama bin Laden unit, who wrote in The Washington Post that, “We shouldn’t buy his attempts to let himself off the hook.”

“Well, Jim, none of them were — none of those six worked with me,” Tenet said.

But one who did has now come forward to call Tenet — more in sorrow than anger — a liar.
Tyler Drumheller, head of the Clandestine Service’s Europe Division when he retired in 2004, says Tenet’s assertion that he didn’t know that a key intelligence source for the attack on Iraq was bogus is “a lie.”

“This is a defense that he and Harlow cooked up,” Drumheller said in an interview last week, referring to Tenet and his writing assistant, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow.

The intelligence for the run up to Iraq has been debated for some time now, and now Tenet refuses to acknowledge the problems with the intelligence that he peddled to the administration. A good majority of the controversy surrounds an operational source known only as "Curveball." The germans had him, and were getting information out of him, and tha CIA wanted to debrief him. The Germans were expected to say no, but then there's this little nugget:

A number of CIA analysts believed in the information from Curveball, relayed by the Germans, because his description of germ-war equipment matched what was available in open scientific literature — as if the “agent” couldn’t have looked it up himself and regurgitated it to credulous listeners.

More importantly, CIA officers hadn’t been able to grill Curveball on their own. The BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, wasn’t allowing the agency access.

“There were several reasons,” Drumheller recalled. “One, it was operational pride. Their answer was, you know, ‘If we asked to see one of your operational sources, would you?’ And the answer would be no. So there was a little of that.

“But two, the main reason, was embarrassment.”

In the fall of 2002, Drumheller had plumbed his German counterpart about Curveball over lunch in Washington.

Up went a red flag.

“Well, just between us,” the German said, according to Drumheller’s account, “and I’ll deny it if it ever comes out, we have a lot of doubts about this guy. He’s a very erratic character. We’ve had to move him a number of times. And it’s a single source whose reporting can’t be validated, and I personalty think he’s a fabricator.”

The BND honchos back in Germany won’t let you talk to him, the German added, but “it’s not really worth” trying anyway.

Unknown to Drumheller then, and to the public until right now, the Germans had actually fired Curveball.

They didn’t know where he was, and they didn’t really care. He was baggage. If the Americans thought he was credible, that was their problem.

So, rather than actually vetting the guy, Tenet took the bait, and through the information into the briefing that Colin Powell delivered to the UN. The fur was flying over the controversy, and it wasn't pretty:

What is credible is that Drumheller, a senior intelligence official with 30 years in the spy business, says he immediately told headquarters about his lunch with his German counterpart.

And that soon, “all hell broke loose, or as loose as it can be in the sober headquarters of CIA headquarters.”

“I can’t emphasize enough the violent nature of the debate [over Curveball] inside the agency” that ensued, Drumheller says.

The e-mails were flying — between the CIA’s Berlin station and Washington, between the Clandestine Division’s doubters and the Intelligence Division’s believers, between Drumheller and the top aide to Tenet’s deputy John McLaughlin, between Drumheller and Tenet’s chief of staff — all through the fall.

“And if George wasn’t aware of it at that point,” in December 2002, Drumheller says — two months before Secretary of State Colin Powell’s fateful presentation of the (internally) discredited information to the United Nations — “then he’s derelict. Because his chief of staff is aware of it, the woman who was his special assistant is aware of it,” and others. “And there were all these e-mails about it,” cited by the Robb-Silverman Commission, which investigated U.S. intelligence failures relating to Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

“These documents show that they and their staffers were well aware of the problems with Curveball,” Drumheller says. “In fact they knew before I got involved in September 2002.”

And as if Drumheller's indictment isn't enough, Doug Feith is taking issue with Tenet over his sliming in Tenet's book:

Mr. Tenet resents that the CIA was criticized for its work on Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, in particular, Iraq's relationship with al Qaeda. On this score he is especially angry at Vice President Dick Cheney, at Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, at Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and at me -- I was the head of the Defense Department's policy organization. Mr. Tenet devotes a chapter to the matter of Iraq and al Qaeda, giving it the title: "No Authority, Direction or Control." The phrase implies that we argued that Saddam exercised such powers -- authority, direction and control -- over al Qaeda. We made no such argument.

Rather we said that the CIA's analysts were not giving serious, professional attention to information about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. The CIA's assessments were incomplete, nonrigorous and shaped around the dubious assumption that secular Iraqi Baathists would be unwilling to cooperate with al Qaeda religious fanatics, even when they shared strategic interests. This assumption was disproved when Baathists and jihadists became allies against us in the post-Saddam insurgency, but before the war it was the foundation of much CIA analysis.

Mr. Tenet's account of all this gives the reader no idea of the substance of our critique, which was that the CIA's analysts were suppressing information. They were not showing policy makers reports that justified concern about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. Mr. Tenet does tell us that the CIA briefed Mr. Cheney on Iraq and al Qaeda in September 2002 and that the "briefing was a disaster" because "Libby and the vice president arrived with such detailed knowledge on people, sources, and timelines that the senior CIA analytic manager doing the briefing that day simply could not compete." He implies that there was improper bullying but then adds: "We weren't ready for this discussion."

This is an abject admission. He is talking about September 2002 -- a year after 9/11! This was the month that the president brought the Iraq threat before the United Nations General Assembly. This was several weeks after I took my staff to meet with Mr. Tenet and two-dozen or so CIA analysts to challenge the quality of the agency's work on Iraq and al Qaeda.

So, Tenet still pushed the CIA's faulty assessment of the intelligence despite the fact that he knew it was BS. He admits that the CIA wasn't ready for the briefings or to deliver a comprehensive report at all. this is the worst sort of failure that we could have imagined. Not only is it incompetance on the part of Tenet, but obviously the factions within the CIA simply couldn't come up with the "slam dunk" case that Tenet assured the president Central Intelligence had. What the Hell?

We rely on the CIA for part of our foreign intelligence, and they bothced this from the word go. We had troops committed to containing Iraq, and then Tenet and his boys walk in with this wonky assessment that Saddam's lying. With regard to the war in the Iraqi theater, virtually everrything hung on these reports. They were the ones assessing Iraq's WMD capabilities. This shows us two important things about Tenet: That he is a liar, and he's trying to cover his backside, but that he was so inept that he couldn't get everyone on the same page to give the administration a straight answer on the threat that Iraq was.

Publius II


Blogger Ikez said...

Nice post friend. I work on this issue at www.regimeofterror.com.

There's a lot linking Saddam to al Qaeda that the press has missed (imagine that).


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