February 06, 2004

Tenet Clears the Air

Here's the text of the speech.

Expect Maureen Dowd and her ilk to mock Tenet as the Beltway scapegoat who takes it on the chin, like the dutiful progeny of Greek immigrants (Powell the slavish soldier in this Dowdian duo), for the real villains like "Hobbesian" Dick Cheney, warmongering "Orwellian" Rummy, and, of course, the nefarious neo-conners Perle/Wolfy/Feith/Libby/Abrams/Bolton (have I left anyone out?).

Dowd, of course, doesn't care too much about facts if they stand in the way of her breezy and increasingly idiotic screeds.

But, for the record, let's take a look at some of the facts as spelled out by Tenet today.

Key points:

1) Intelligence analysts were not coerced to hype the intel to engage in a mega-hoodwink of the American people by their political overseers :

"Let me be clear: Analysts differed on several important aspects of these programs and those debates were spelled out in the estimate.

They never said there was an imminent threat. Rather, they painted an objective assessment for our policy-makers of a brutal dictator who was continuing his efforts to deceive and build programs that might constantly surprise us and threaten our interests. No one told us what to say or how to say it."

2) The work of analyzing Iraq's WMD programs/potential stockpiles is, contra Kay, far from over:

"But before we start, let me be direct about an important fact. As we meet here today, the Iraq Survey Group is continuing its important search for people and data. And despite some public statements, we are nowhere near 85 percent finished. The men and women who work in that dangerous environment are adamant about that fact.

Any call that I make today is necessarily provisional. Why? Because we need more time and we need more data."

3) Given this, we can draw but "provisional bottom lines" at the present time, namely:

Missile Program(s): Iraq had an "aggressive...missile program concealed from the international community"; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Iraq was involved in the "development of prohibited and undeclared unmanned aerial vehicles" (but the jury is still out on whether such vehicles were being designed to deliver biological agents); Nuclear Program: "Saddam did not have a nuclear weapon, he still wanted one, and Iraq intended to reconstitute a nuclear program at some point" (debate continues on the intended uses of the aluminum tubes); Biological Weapons: "Iraq intended to develop biological weapons. Clearly, research and development work was under way that would have permitted a rapid shift to agent production if seed stocks were available. But we do not yet know if production took place. And just as clearly, we have not yet found biological weapons"; Chemical Weapons: "Saddam had the intent and capability to quickly convert civilian industry to chemical weapons production. However, we have not yet found the weapons we expected".

A couple additional points.

Tenet makes it clear debate still rages on in the intelligence community on the intended uses of the aluminum tubes (for centrifuges or not?) and whether the mobile labs were intended for transport of biological weapons.

In other words, my views on this are still the same as when I wrote this way back in June of last year.

Finally, note this under-reported important passage from the speech:

"As David Kay reminded us, the Iraqis systematically destroyed and looted forensic evidence before, during and after the war. We have been faced with organized destruction of documentary and computer evidence in a wide range of offices, laboratories and companies suspected of weapons of mass destruction work. The pattern of these efforts is one of deliberate, rather than random, acts. Iraqis who have volunteered information to us are still being intimidated and attacked.

Remember, finding things in Iraq is always very tough. After the first Gulf War, the U.S. Army blew up chemical weapons without knowing it. They were mixed in with conventional weapons in Iraqi ammo dumps.

My new special adviser, Charlie Duelfer, will soon be in Iraq to join Major Keith Dayton, commander of the Iraqi Survey Group, to continue our effort to learn the truth. And when the truth emerges, we will report it to the American people no matter what." [emphasis added]

In other words, the WMD hunt isn't over just yet. Worth stressing too, deliberate efforts to obstruct the unfettered investigation of the extent of Iraq's WMD programs continue to this day.

Regardless, and just on the basis of Tenet's "provisional bottom lines", we see that Saddam was in material breach of UNSC 1441 (go on, read it again, it's worth it...).

Put differently, the U.S., contra all the hysterical handwringing in the predictable quarters about how Bush has killed off the rosy, post-war Achesonian order, actually upheld the will of the international community as enunciated in 1441.

Some would prefer an ineffective debating society at Turtle Bay. The kind that allowed tens of thousands of Bosniaks to die whilst ostensibly under U.N. protection in "safe havens."

I prefer a U.N. with real teeth whose resolutions actually mean something. And that's what Bush (admitedly, sometimes clumsily and heavy handedly) helped deliver.

Not, to be sure, out of noble, humanitarian sentiments.

Out of a prudential post 9/11 risk assessment regarding the terrifying prospects of civilian carnage resulting from the intersection of transnational terror groups, WMD, and states openly flouting the will of the international community.

France and Germany didn't (and don't) get it. Truth be told, I don't think we should be too concerned about that (they were being led by particularly opportunistic and irresponsible leaders that won't be around forever). Regardless, the UK, Spain, Italy, Poland, Japan, S. Korea, Australia, and others did.

This was not a unilateral action. Indeed, it was an action that reflected the will of the international community as embodied in 1441.

And no, there was no Big Lie emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania.

There was, to be sure, some aggressive intelligence analysis in places like Doug Feith's shop at the Pentagon.

But there was no systemic coercion of intelligence analysts at the CIA from big, mean Dick Cheney and Gang (so say both Kay and Tenet).

So don't believe all the Dowd/Krugman/Kerry/Soros hype. It's pretty hyperbolic fare.

And stay tuned for their reaction to Tenet's speech. How much do you want to bet Dowd will treat it like I describe at the beginning of this post?

Posted by Gregory at February 6, 2004 12:01 AM
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