From White House Ally to Nemesis

With the publication of former CIA director George Tenet's new book, "At the Center of the Storm, My Years at the CIA," a White House ally becomes a nemesis. The contradictions and timing are intriguing, to say the least.

In February 2004, Tenet defended the Bush administration in a speech at Georgetown University, saying the White House never twisted CIA intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. "No one told us what to say or how to say it," he said.

One month later, as the Senate tried to understand how prewar intelligence was so faulty and whether the Bush administration misused intelligence, Tenet would not tell the Senate what he told the Bush administration about the threat.

"You have to have the confidence to know that when I believed that somebody was misconstruing intelligence, I said something about it," he told Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

But three years later, Tenet suddenly has lots to talk about.

"There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat," Tenet writes in his new book. "(In truth, it was not about imminence but about acting before Saddam did.) Nor was there ever a significant discussion regarding enhanced containment or the costs and benefits of such an approach versus full-out planning for overt and covert regime change."

In the book Tenet attacks Vice President Dick Cheney for inflating his role in the decision to go to war, saying he watched incredulously as the vice president did so on NBC's "Meet The Press" last September.

"George Tenet sat in the Oval Office," Cheney described, "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.'"

Writes Tenet: "I remember watching and thinking, 'As if you needed me to say "slam dunk" to convince you to go to war with Iraq.'"

He adds that when he used that phrase the decision to go to war had already been made, and that he used it not in terms of the quality of the intelligence but the public case for war.

Moreover, Tenet tells CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday that he yelled at the White House for leaking that story to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, who published it in 2004, to scapegoat him.

Tenet called then-White House chief of staff Andy Card and said, "You've gone out and made me look stupid."

Tenet added, "It's the most despicable thing I've ever heard in my life. Men of honor don't do this."

So why is Tenet talking now?

Perhaps because all the administration was trying to do was sell a war. And Tenet is trying to sell a book.

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