Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pulling the Curtain on CIA Wizard of Oz Act

Three months ago, it looked as if he had made a clean getaway. George Tenet had his Medal of Freedom, a $4 million book advance and was all over TV complaining that his “slam dunk” recommendation on invading Iraq had been distorted. He was in Bureaucrat Heaven.

But now, thanks to both Democratic and Republican leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee with no resistance from the Bush White House, Tenet gets his comeuppance from the newly released summary of a 2005 CIA report that shreds his claims of pre-9/11 competence.

“The agency and its officers did not discharge their responsibilities in a satisfactory manner,” the report found, citing “failures to implement and manage important processes, to follow through with operations and to properly share and analyze critical data.”

This is a scathing indictment from an agency that never airs its dirty linen or even admits there is any. Tenet, of course, issued an instant denial, but his escape act that relied on CIA secrecy has been exposed for all to see.

The bottom line is that even the best-run intelligence agency could probably not have averted 9/11. But it’s satisfying to have confirmation that Tenet’s pitiful performance then was on a par with his failure to blow the whistle on Bush’s Neo-Cons when they distorted intelligence to justify invading Iraq the following year.

Washington schadenfreude is alive and well and, in this case, performing a public service.

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