Tenet: Bush, Cheney went to war with no "serious debate"

Former CIA chief's book offers inside look at the path to Iraq.

Published April 27, 2007 1:02PM (EDT)

In an appearance on "Meet the Press" last fall, Vice President Dick Cheney defended the decision to go to war in Iraq by blaming it on George Tenet and the CIA.

"When George Tenet sat in the Oval Office and the president of the United States asked him directly, he said, 'George, how good is the case against Saddam on weapons of mass destruction?' the director of the CIA said, 'It's a slam-dunk, Mr. President, it's a slam-dunk,'" Cheney said. "That was the intelligence that was provided to us at the time, and based upon which we made a choice."

Tenet's reaction when he heard Cheney's words: "I remember watching and thinking, 'As if you needed me to say 'slam dunk' to convince you to go to war with Iraq."

Tenet admits to saying the "slam-dunk" business. But as the New York Times reports, he also says in his new book that the Bush administration went to war in Iraq without ever engaging in a "serious debate" over whether Saddam was actually an imminent threat to the United States or any "significant discussion" about whether he could be contained in some way short of war.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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