Tenet: Iraq war is "wrong"

By David Talbot
October 22, 2004 3:33AM (UTC)
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Now that he's no longer the nation's top spook, George Tenet is letting the American people in on a little secret: the war in Iraq is "wrong." The former CIA director didn't exactly shout his confession out loud -- he slipped it into a speech in the hinterlands, while addressing the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan on Wednesday night. But as Editor & Publisher noted, "Anna Clark, correspondent for The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph, Mich., was there to grab it." And now it's all over the Internets.

Tenet told the Michigan audience that the Bush administration's war in Iraq is being "rightly challenged," but insisted that the CIA was making progress in the overall war on terrorism. He also conceded that the agency "did not live up to our expectations as professionals" when it came to protecting the country against the 9/11 attacks and informing the public about the absence of WMDs in Iraq. "We had inconsistent information, and we did not inform others in the community of the gaps in our intelligence," a surprisingly chatty Tenet remarked.

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First came Paul Bremer, the former Iraq administrator who confessed during a speech earlier this month at Indiana's DePauw University that the war quickly became a mess because Bush hadn't sent enough troops to secure the peace. And now there's Tenet. What is it about going to the heartland that makes these tight-lipped former Bush courtiers suddenly want to level with the American people? Of course, as soon as his remarks hit the media fan and the Bush goons got to him, Bremer returned to the fold, groveling on the op-ed pages of the New York Times and explaining that his remarks had been misunderstood.

We'll see how long it takes Tenet to be put through the same wringer. Although now he's been appointed a professor at Georgetown University, maybe the ex-spymaster can afford to display a bit more intellectual integrity.


David Talbot

David Talbot, the founder of Salon, is the author of New York Times bestsellers like "Brothers," "The Devil's Chessboard," and "Season of the Witch." His most recent book is "Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of My Stroke."

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