May 09, 2007

Today's Fred

In today's column, Fred responds to George Tenet's questionable recollections about National Security and intelligence in the days leading up to 9/11.

Interestingly enough, Fred seems to take issue more with the MEDIA and their handling of Tenet's claims than with what Tenet has to say for himself.

Some excerpts from the piece:

I havenít read the book, but I have followed the media accounts. My attention was drawn to Tenetís statements that al Qaeda is here and waiting and that they wish nothing more than to be able to see a mushroom cloud above the United States.

Naturally, the media emphasis is not on that. Its attention is on any differences Tenet had with the administration. The mediaís premise is that Iraq should not have been considered a real threat to us and that the administration basically misled the country into war. While one may take issue with Tenet on several things, I was intrigued that on some very important issues, Tenet did not follow the media script when answering Russertís questions.


On the issue of weapons of mass destruction, although Iraq undoubtedly had such weapons in the past, Tenet acknowledges that everybody got it wrong as to whether they would have them at the time of the invasion. On the nuclear issue, he said that the CIA thought that Saddam was five to seven years away from a nuclear capability ó unless he was able to obtain fissile material from another source.

A couple of things occur to me here. In the first place, is five to seven years that far away? Since four years have passed since the invasion, that would be only a year from now if we had not invaded. If he had been able to obtain fissile materials, the time could have been much shorter. There are over 40 countries in the world with fissile material sufficient to make a nuclear bomb and much of it is unguarded.

The CIA could have been on the short side or on the long side of the estimate. They have underestimated the capabilities of hostile nations before, such as North Koreaís missile technologies. Also, Tenet acknowledged that before the Gulf War, the CIA had underestimated how far along Saddam was on his nuclear program.

All of this hardly fits with the notion that Saddam posed no threat. As Tenet made the media rounds, he may have helped the administration as much as hurt it, but he was in no danger of having that fact highlighted by his interviewers.

I think Fred makes an excellent point here about CIA intelligence. We KNEW. KNEW. that Saddam had WMDs. The evidence is overwhelming. Just because he didn't have very many LEFT at the time of the initial conflict DOES NOT MEAN that he wouldn't attempt to restock. Or get newer, more dangerous toys.  And the fact that they thought those "new toys" were coming in 5-7 years doesn't detract from the danger.  Ladies and Gentlemen, The CIA's "5 years from now" is NEXT YEAR.  Probably less than 12 months, even.  And what if that was an OVERestimate.

I don't even want to contemplate THAT in the context of the United States NOT going after Saddam.  Do you?

Posted by caltechgirl at May 9, 2007 12:39 PM | TrackBack

I agree 100%.

But I also think we need to look at the neighbors.

Posted by: Sam at May 9, 2007 05:47 PM

Good point!

Posted by: caltechgirl at May 9, 2007 07:07 PM

Ditto what Sam said...

Posted by: Richmond at May 11, 2007 07:55 AM