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April 30, 2007

George Tenet "Explains" The Downing Street Memo

From George Tenet's new book, p. 310:

In the spring of 2005 some documents dating back to July 2002 were leaked to the British press. The documents, which came to be known as "the Downing Street Memo," reported on a "perceptible shift" in the attitude in Washington, saying that military action was now seen as "inevitable." One memo records "C," the designation the Brits use for the head of the British Secret Secret Intelligence Service, as saying that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Sir Richard later told me that he had been misquoted. He reviewed the draft document, objecting to the word "fixed" in particular, and corrected it to reflect the truth of the matter. He said that upon returning to London in July of 2002, he expressed the view, based on his conversations, that the war in Iraq was going to happen. He believed that the momentum driving it was not really about WMD but rather about bigger issues, such as changing the politics of the Middle East.

Dearlove recalled that he had a polite but significant, disagreement with Scooter Libby, who was trying to convince him that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qa'ida. Dearlove's strongly held view, based on his own service's reporting, was that any contacts between the two had come to nothing and that there was no formal relationship. He believed that the crowd around the vice president was playing fast and loose with the evidence. In his view, it was never about "fixing" the intelligence itself but rather about the undisciplined manner in which the intelligence was being used.

It all makes sense now! Richard Dearlove was misquoted, and corrected it in the final draft. But the British government never released the final draft, because...well, it's not clear, but I assume because they're shy and rather than speaking up would prefer to have a massive, incredibly damning falsehood be entered into history for all eternity. Furthermore, the Bush administration would never ask about this and certainly would never press the British to declassify the exculpatory draft. They're very shy too.

Finally, don't ever believe that "playing fast and loose with the evidence" is the same thing as "fixing" intelligence. Those are two totally different things and you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking that.

Posted at April 30, 2007 12:31 PM | TrackBack

Looks like Tenet cleared up that foggy little bit of confusion. Good to know.

Does he say anything else about the downing street memos? Because the fixing facts to the policy thing got the most airplay, but it was not at all the most damning information contained in those documents.

Posted by: Justin at April 30, 2007 01:43 PM

If I understand Tenet's interpretation of Sir Richard correctly, Sir Richard was saying it wasn't that they were "fixing the intelligence' in the sense that they were carefully crafting a cover story for the policy using intelligence, it was worse than that!

They didn't even care about the intelligence enought to "fix" it around the policy.

Posted by: biggerbox at April 30, 2007 03:22 PM

I think you miss the point. As chief of the Secret Service the distinction between the intelligence service fixing the evidence and the political appointees fixing the evidence is absolutely critical. If he had accused the CIA of fixing the evidence it would have been bad for relations.

What he is making clear here is that there was a fix and it was in the political apparatus, not the intelligence services.

Whether he was absolving Tenet is a different issue. I suspect not. Tenet is a political appointee and a civil servant like Dearborn would probably regard him as being equivalent to a minister, responsible for the agency but not 'of the agency'.

Posted by: PHB at April 30, 2007 03:33 PM

All of this means nothing anyway because the West is going down in the East as we speak... Do you hear that sound?

It is the sound of a giant army (the U.S) crashing to the ground, all the while pretending to want a war it cannot win (Iran). It is the voices of hypocrites and fools acsended to power far beyond their reach. It is the inevitable failure of western arrogance.

Posted by: at April 30, 2007 05:30 PM

This is the same Tenant who looked Scott Pelly in the eye and repeatedly uttered the following lie....."We don't torture."

Sorry George...just because your own folks wrote their own definition of torture doesn't change the fact that you used torture.

And after telling us how effective torture was in getting you information, go talk to all the FBI agents who complained about being forced to spend thousands of wasted hours tracking down torture-generated leads which proved to be baseless and have been coughed up by guys who had had enough of near drowning and being brought to the thin edge of total organ failure.

Posted by: dweb at April 30, 2007 07:53 PM

The U.S. does not torture, this is true. They just hire Syria, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, S. Africa and E. Europe to do it for them. They manufacture the equipment and some pig in Damascus tears a man apart with said equipment and call it investigation. Sounds very Soviet-Style to me... Here's to regretting the end of the Cold War.

Posted by: at April 30, 2007 09:21 PM

This book is little more than an attempt at Presidential inoculation. Nothing more, nothing less. Payback for a Medal of Freedom, courtesy of the Bush Family...Former CIA Director to another...

It is all so clear...why can no one else see it?

Posted by: justmy2 at April 30, 2007 09:56 PM

Just my 2 is spot on. King Georgie comes off remarkably well in what has been thus far made available.

We're hence supposed to believe that the abysmal ignorance, blank stare, 3rd-grade rhetoric, operational irrelevance, and full-blown sociopathy are just a result of bad stage lighting, part of a public misperception, like he's not a slow-witted cardboard emperor born to the throne in a 19th century shogunate.

Posted by: cavjam at April 30, 2007 10:31 PM

They're incompetent at lying, too!

Posted by: Albert64 at May 1, 2007 01:03 AM

Okay, Tenet, you got your book deal; you did the promos; now, pick up your fat check and get the hell
off the stage.

Posted by: at May 1, 2007 08:59 PM