“Personal Reasons” The Fall of George Tenet

A. Scott Piraino

CIA Director George Tenet officially resigned last week after a tumultuous, seven year tenure. President Bush offered a conciliatory speech to the outgoing Director, and claimed Mr. Tenet had resigned for “personal reasons”. He is absolutely right.

George Tenet’s reason for resigning is his personal disgust with the White House, and the “neo-conservative” alliance that undermined the US intelligence agencies. The Bush Administration is responsible for the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, not the CIA. And George tenet knows this better than anyone.

Last week also saw the release of a Senate investigation into US intelligence failures leading up to the War in Iraq. Not surprisingly, the report blames the CIA for falsifying and overstating analyses on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. However, the Senate report only investigated the CIA’s role in the Iraqi intelligence fiasco.

The report does not address the manipulation of that intelligence by the White House and Defense department to bolster the case for war. The Republicans were determined not to undermine the President’s re-election bid, and defeated attempts to investigate the Bush administration’s shenanigans regarding Iraq. Their role in creating evidence of Iraq’s WMDs, and connections to al-Qaeda will be the subject of a separate Senate investigation.

A second report pertaining to the misuse of intelligence will be released by the end of the year, but after the election on November 2nd. This Senate Report is a whitewash, and a public relations coup for the Bush administration. They are off the hook, while George Tenet and the CIA take the fall for the faulty intelligence that justified the invasion of Iraq.

This is the last, not the first time George Tenet has been held responsible for Bush administration lies. In late 2001 forged documents were “discovered” stating that Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase uranium in Niger. British Intelligence had supplied the original forged documents, and they came to the British from an unnamed foreign source.

Even though the documents did not originate from CIA sources, Vice President Cheney pressured the CIA into investigating the report. In February of 2002 retired ambassador Joseph Wilson was dispatched to Niger. After returning, he concluded that no exchange of uranium between Niger and Iraq took place, and said as much to CIA officials. George Tenet then informed the White House that the story was false.

This did not stop President Bush from using the allegations in his State of the Union address in January of 2003. When the press began investigating these reports, the notorious “yellow cake” scandal unfolded. The Bush administration saved face by forcing George Tenet to accept responsibility for the faulty intelligence. He publicly apologized by saying: “The President had every reason to believe that the text presented to him was sound.”

The Bush Administration would repay the CIA’s loyalty by releasing the name of a covert agent in retaliation for criticism of the White House.

In July of last year Joseph Wilson wrote an Op-Ed piece for the New York times aptly titled, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa“. His piece criticized the Bush administration’s use of bogus information in the State of the Union address, and further claimed that they knew the yellow cake story was not true. In retaliation, an unknown White House official (Karl Rove), leaked the name of his wife to reporters and told them she was a CIA agent.

This is a federal crime, and a serious one. National Security laws protect the identity of covert agents, penalties for revealing classified information range from fines to up to ten years in prison. In September the CIA, with George Tenet’s approval, formally requested a Justice department investigation.

The ongoing Grand Jury investigation has questioned several high-ranking White House officials and Vice President Cheney. Three weeks ago, the investigation reached the President himself. The White House press secretary declared that, “no one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more than the president of the United States”. However, the President had a private lawyer present during his hour long interrogation by Justice Department investigators.

The Valerie Plame affair is not the only case where the Bush administration broke the law in order to control information about Iraq. Federal Investigators are now asking questions about illegal contacts between the Bush administration and Ahmad Chalabi. The Defense Department has been secretly funding Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress for the past four years, to the tune of 33 million dollars.

Chalabi wanted the United states to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The Bush administration needed propaganda about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion they also wanted. According to the Wall street Journal, Ahmad Chalabi attended a secret Defense Policy Board meeting just days after September 11th. The subject of the meeting was how to use the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to invading Iraq.

In return for funding from the Bush administration, Chalabi‘s Iraqi National Congress leaked false stories to the press about Iraq’s WMD programs. Including the reports of Iraq’s mobile bio-weapons labs, which turned out to be nothing but tractor trailers. These reports were used by the Bush administration as evidence of Iraq’s WMD programs.

Again, the CIA knew these stories were false, and that Chalabi was unreliable.

After US forces had invaded Iraq, Chalabi was groomed for the role of interim Prime Minister, and given a seat on the Iraqi Governing Council. When asked by a reporter about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, weapons his INC clamed were there but had not been found, Chalabi said: “As far as we’re concerned we’ve been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important.”

Then, on May 20th, coalition forces in Iraq raided the mansion of Ahmad Chalabi. Just days before the coalition raided his house, the Bush administration cut funding to Chalabi, and distanced themselves from their new pariah. President Bush even remarked to King Abdullah of Jordan, “you can piss on Chalabi”.

US officials now suspect Chalabi of passing classified information to Iran. Apparently Mr. Chalabi has informed the Iranians that U.S. intelligence agencies have cracked their communications codes. Worse, they suspect that Defense Department officials who had frequent contacts with Chalabi leaked that information to him, and Chalabi in turn passed it on to Iran.

This information is highly classified, and Iran will surely take precautions to prevent further access to their secrets by U.S. Intelligence. The FBI has begun questioning the few Defense Department officials who had access to the information. Interestingly, both Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney deny any knowledge that the investigation is even taking place.

Warrants were issued for fifteen of Ahmad Chalabi’s associates, all INC officials. Their crimes ranged from kidnapping, fraud, running stolen car rings, illegal seizure of property, and “associated matters”. Nevertheless, Chalabi continued to protest his innocence, and even blame George Tenet for his crimes.

He publicly accused the CIA director of providing “erroneous information about weapons of mass destruction to President Bush, which caused the government much embarrassment at the United Nations and his own country.” He added that George Tenet, “was behind the charges against me that claimed that I gave intelligence information to Iran.”

George Tenet has been forced to endure this abuse, because if he spoke out he would have to admit that Chalabi is a paid stooge of the White House.

The Bush administration’s relationship with Chalabi provides a glimpse of where the real case for war in Iraq was made. The fact is, the CIA is a professional organization, ran by career civil servants. The bush administration could strong-arm the agency into reporting that Iraq was a threat to the U.S., but the White house could not just order the CIA to lie.

However, the truth can only be stretched so far, and the truth was Iraq was not a threat. So neo-conservatives in the Defense Department created the Office of Special Plans. The OSP publicized the few bits of information that showed Iraq was a threat to the US, and ignored the preponderance of data that said otherwise, thus creating propaganda to support the march towards war.

The Office of Special Plans also invented lies. This secret organization within the Pentagon, answerable to no one, funded Chalabi. The OSP also created evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime was connected to al-Qaeda.

During the buildup to war, Vice President Cheney began claiming that Mohammed Atta, one of the September 11th hijackers, met with an Iraqi intelligence officer. The alleged meeting took place in the Czech Republic in April 2001. Bush administration officials made repeated references to this meeting as evidence that Iraq was cooperating with al-Qaeda to strike at the United states.

The CIA had published contrary intelligence about Mohammed Atta as early as December 2001. FBI Evidence of Mohammed Atta‘s whereabouts place him in the United States at the time of the alleged meeting in Prague. The Senate’s 9/11 report concurred with CIA analysts, the meeting never took place.

In testimony before the 9/11 Commission George Tenet admitted that the OSP briefed white House officials on ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda without his knowledge. He also revealed a memo he sent to the Under Secretary of defense. The memo stated that Mr. Tenet did not agree with “the way the data was characterized”, pertaining to the alleged meeting between Mohammed Atta and the Iraqis.

The Defense Department issued a correction, but not before they had leaked the story to the press. During the build up to war administration officials referred to the meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence officers as fact. Vice President Cheney repeatedly mentioned the alleged meeting, even after the 9/11 Commission had ruled the story a farce, by saying that the meeting “couldn’t be ruled out.”

Again the Bush administration’s intelligence was a lie, and again the CIA was not responsible. Vice President Cheney was lying, they were all lying, but Mr. Tenet could not speak out. After the Chalabi fiasco and the Intelligence Committee report, Mr. Tenet had all he could take, and he tendered his resignation.

One Democrat flatly stated that George Tenet “fell on his sword”. They failed to implicate the Bush administration for lying about Iraq, but Senate Democrats did attach nine “alternative opinions” to the report issued last week. This appendix details Bush administration pressure on the CIA to modify analyses, and provides the first official evidence of the Office of Special Plans.

People must realize that the CIA works for the White House. This has put George Tenet in a difficult position. The CIA cannot publicly condemn the President‘s propaganda campaign, because he is their boss. In addition to being double crossed by the Bush administration, the CIA has had to answer for the September 11th attacks, and the faulty intelligence that led to the war in Iraq.

We must also realize that the CIA is on record as opposing the Invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration has co-opted the CIA in order to prosecute their mad war, and they bear the responsibility. As CIA Director, George Tenet was used by the Bush administration, and discarded.

For George Tenet, this was personal.

Published in: on July 19, 2004 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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