Ex-C.I.A. Chief, in Book, Assails Cheney on Iraq
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: May 10th, 2007
George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, has lashed out against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials in a new book, saying they pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a serious debate about whether Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat. [His book] is the first detailed account by a member of the presidents inner circle of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the decision to invade Iraq and the failure to find the unconventional weapons that were a major justification for the war. There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat, Mr. Tenet writes in a devastating judgment. Nor, he adds, was there ever a significant discussion about the possibility of containing Iraq without an invasion. Mr. Tenet ... makes clear his bitter view that the administration made him a scapegoat for the Iraq war. As violence in Iraq spiraled beginning in late 2003, Mr. Tenet writes, rather than acknowledge responsibility, the administrations message was: Dont blame us. George Tenet and the C.I.A. got us into this mess. Mr. Tenet takes blame for the flawed 2002 National Intelligence Estimate about Iraqs weapons programs, calling the episode one of the lowest moments of my seven-year tenure. Mr. Tenet largely endorses the view of administration critics that Mr. Cheney and a handful of Pentagon officials, including Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith, were focused on Iraq as a threat in late 2001 and 2002 even as Mr. Tenet and the C.I.A. concentrated mostly on Al Qaeda. Mr. Tenet has spoken rarely in public, and never so caustically, since stepping down in July 2004.
Note: Was the Iraq war based largely on lies and deception? Now that Hussein is gone and there are no weapons of mass destruction, who is the enemy in Iraq? For the comments of a top U.S. general, click here.