If there is a weasel more gutless, a buffoon more incompetent, or an ingrate more shameless than failed CIA Director George Tenet, he's being hidden in a black ops prison on Guantanamo Bay.
George Tenet, a poster child for "The Power Of Positive Brown-Nosing," has hit a new low, even by Washington standards. Having worked his way up the political ladder by leaving no back unslapped, on the way down he's leaving no back unstabbed.
George Tenet is the Barney Fife of the spy world. Every bad guy got away and he never took his bullet out of his pocket.
Screwing up the pre-Iraq-War intelligence alone would be enough to given Director Tenet a failing grade. Utterly missing the 9/11 attacks and having not a single CIA asset in the Taliban or Al Qaeda at the time would, by itself, confirm his place in history as worst CIA chief ever.
But such is Tenet's cluelessness that he managed to surpass even these disasters. As bin Laden expert Michael Scheuer put it:
"What troubles me most is Tenet's handling of the opportunities that CIA officers gave the Clinton administration to capture or kill bin Laden between May 1998 and May 1999. Each time we had intelligence about bin Laden'swhereabouts, Tenet…would nod and assure his anxious subordinates that he would stress to [President] Clinton and his national security team that the chances of capturing bin Laden were solid….
"[But] Several key Clinton counterterrorism insiders have reported that Tenet consistently denigrated the targeting data on bin Laden, causing the president and his team to lose confidence in the hard-won intelligence. 'We could never get over the critical hurdle of being able to corroborate Bin Ladin's whereabouts,' Tenet now writes. That of course is untrue, but it spared him from ever having to explain the awkward fallout if an attempt to get bin Laden failed."
Tenet had Osama in his sights but let him go. He couldn't get over that ultimate butt-kisser's challenge, an unhappy boss. So Tenet made Clinton happy, and eventually Osama made 3,000 people dead.
If I were George Tenet, the day after 9/11, my letter of resignation would have been on a White House desk. The day we concluded Saddam had no stockpiles of WMD, my head would have been in a White House oven.
At the very least, I would have long ago fled to some far off corner of the earth where nobody would ever see me again, like Outer Mongolia, or MSNBC.
Not George Tenet.
No, he wrote a book instead. Having received the "Medal of Freedom" from George W. Bush, Tenet thanked by giving the French Knee du Groin in return.
The same guy who never went after Osama, who never fought to topple the Taliban when it mattered, and who didn't have the decency to resign after the worst intelligence failure in American history is using the classic CYA strategy of blaming everybody else.
Does it matter that many of his claims are nonsense? He claims, for example, that he was astonished to run into neocon Richard Perle at the White House on September 12th and here him say "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday, they bear responsibility."
If Tenet is confused, imagine poor Richard Perle, who was in France on September 12, 2001, unable to fly back to Washington due to, well, you know…
George Tenet is also "surprised" that the evil Bushies keep linking Iraq and Al Qaeda (though not Iraq and the 9/11 attack). Where did they get that crazy idea from, anyway?
Perhaps from reading George Tenet's own statements to Congress from 2002: "We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qa'ida going back a decade"; and "We have credible reporting that al-Qa'ida leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities"
When confronted by Scott Pelley on CBS with the infamous "Iraq sought uranium in Africa" quote from Bush's State of the Union speech, Tenet passed the buck to some unnamed aide because he "never read the speech."
Yeah, well maybe. But the fact is and Tenet certainly knows this that both British and US intelligence have since confirmed that Iraq did try to get yellowcake from Niger. The president was right. Why not confront CBS with the facts and defend at least a little of his honor?
Because George Tenet is back on the Brown Eye Express. He knows the media don't want to hear what Bush did right. They want "All 'Bush Sucks,' All The Time." And he's going to give it to them, one network backside at a time.
If he's as successful with the press as he's been with politicians, look for George Tenet co-hosting election night coverage with Katie Couric next November.