RUSH: George Tenet. If there’s ever living evidence that President Bush held onto too many people from the previous administration, in not only the CIA, state department and a number of other places, George Tenet is the guy. It’s difficult to know where to start in dealing with this. Remember when Charles Barkley wrote his autobiography and somebody asked him about a couple things and he said he was misquoted? Misquoted in his own autobiography. It’s almost like George Tenet has written a book but on a number of things he wasn’t around when it was being written. Now, the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, a bunch of people have been doing some incredible research into the book, even before — I think the book comes out today. Or it’s already out, yesterday, or whatever. If it’s not, it’s going to be soon.
One of the most egregious things that Tenet reports is that on September 12th he was in the White House, and he saw Richard Perle walk out of the Oval Office, said, ‘What’s Perle doing in there before the president has seen me? According to Tenet, Perle said, ‘Well, this is it. Iraq’s behind this and we gotta go get Iraq. Finally we’re going to be able to go get Iraq.’ Well, guess what? Richard Perle was not in the country on September 12th. He was out of the country. He couldn’t get back in because air traffic control had closed all American airspace. It was four days before we were allowing flights in this country. How does something like that happen? Maybe Mr. Tenet was misquoted in his own book. But Perle is not even in the country, for crying out loud. He says he saw him coming out of the Oval Office, meeting with Bush before he did. One of the other things — and this has long been bandied about in the Drive-By Media. The Democrats and the Drive-Bys have done their best to suggest that Cheney made it all up about Al-Qaeda being in Iraq before 9/11, and he didn’t make it up. It’s in the book.
Of course, I don’t know what we can believe in this book, frankly, with that Richard Perle example, but George Tenet cites all kinds of intelligence — yeah, yeah, Al-Qaeda was there. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was there. He was there recuperating from injuries I think he suffered in Afghanistan. Now, nobody ever said from Cheney, Bush on down, nobody ever said that operational control for 9/11 had anything to do with Saddam. All they ever said was that Iraq was infiltrated with Al-Qaeda members, which was true. And, of course, the reason the Drive-Bys and the Democrats are trying to say this is there was no reason to go to Iraq. Al-Qaeda did 9/11. Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan and Pakistan. No, they were in Iraq, and George Tenet’s own book says so. He cites the intelligence on it. It’s highlighted in a story by Thomas Joscelyn in the Weekly Standard.
Now, Saddam didn’t control ’em, but they were there. They were safe and comfortable in Iraq, and Saddam had to know they were there because they were meeting with some of Saddam’s lieutenants. ‘Tenet devotes an entire chapter to the question of Iraq’s ties to Al-Qaeda (Chapter 18, ‘No Authority, Direction, or Control’). Much of the chapter is used to vilify Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense, and Vice President Cheney. Tenet claims, repeatedly, that Feith, Cheney, and others in the Bush administration exaggerated the intelligence on Saddam’s ties to Al-Qaeda. The former DCI says they ‘pushed the data farther than it deserved’ and ‘sought to create a connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks that would have made WMD, the United Nations, and the international community absolutely irrelevant.’ (In this vein, Tenet also erroneously claimed to have met Richard Perle on September 12, 2001. According to Tenet, Perle said ‘Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday [September 11].’ However, Perle was in France.’ He has a house in France. He couldn’t get back to the US. He was not there on September 12th. He could not have met with Tenet. Richard Perle is denying the conversation took place at all.
‘Tenet offers little real evidence to support his contention. But it is worth noting what he does not claim: that the Bush administration cooked up the connection between Saddam’s Iraq and Al-Qaeda in its entirety. In fact, Tenet concedes that there was evidence of a worrisome relationship. For example, Tenet explains that in late 2002 and early 2003: There was more than enough evidence to give us real concern about Iraq and Al-Qaeda; there was plenty of smoke, maybe even some fire: Ansar al-Islam [note: Tenet refers to Ansar al-Islam by its initials ‘AI’ in several places]; Zarqawi; Kurmal; the arrests in Europe; the murder of American USAID officer Lawrence Foley, in Amman, at the hands of Zarqawi’s associates; and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad operatives in Baghdad. On Ansar al-Islam, Zarqawi, and Kurmal, Tenet elaborates further: The intelligence told us that senior Al-Qaeda leaders and the Iraqis had discussed safe haven in Iraq.’
Now, what in the world is Tenet trying to do here by saying all this intelligence was cooked up? He is confirming everything the administration said and nothing more. The administration never, ever said that Saddam Hussein and everybody in the Iraqi government had operational participation in 9/11, just that Al-Qaeda was there. ‘Most of the public discussion thus far has focused on Zarqawi’s arrival in Baghdad under an assumed name in May of 2002, allegedly to receive medical treatment. Zarqawi, whom we termed a ‘senior associate and collaborator’ of Al-Qaeda at the time, supervised camps in northern Iraq run by Ansar al-Islam (AI). We believed that up to two hundred Al-Qaeda fighters began to relocate there in camps after the Afghan campaign began in the fall of 2001. The camps enhanced Zarqawi’s reach beyond the Middle East. One of the camps run by AI, known as Kurmal, engaged in production and training in the use of low-level poisons such as cyanide. Our efforts to track activities emanating from Kurmal resulted in the arrest of nearly one hundred Zarqawi operatives in Western Europe planning to use poisons in operations. According to Tenet, Al-Qaeda’s presence was not limited to northern Iraq: What was even more worrisome was that by the spring and summer of 2002, more than a dozen Al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists converged on Baghdad, with apparently no harassment on the part of the Iraqi government. They had found a comfortable and secure environment in which they moved people and supplies to support Zarqawi’s operations in northeastern Iraq.’
Now, Thomas Joscelyn writes, ‘It strains credulity to imagine that all of this was going on without, at the very least, Saddam’s tacit approval. Tenet says that the CIA did not think Saddam had ‘operational direction and control’ over the two Egyptians, Zarqawi, or AI. But he explains, ‘from an intelligence point of view it would have been difficult to conclude that the Iraqi intelligence service was not aware of their activities.’ ‘Certainly,’ Tenet adds, ‘we believe that at least one senior AI operative maintained some sort of liaison relationship with the Iraqis.” It’s a devastating analysis of the book here. Again, Weekly Standard by Thomas Joscelyn. I want to take you back. Memories are fleeting and sometimes short. But you go back to the days immediately after 9/11 and the ensuing two years leading up to our invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003. There was greater consensus in the world for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq than there is for global warming today.
Our allies agreed that Saddam had WMDs, UN inspectors agreed that Saddam had WMDs, the UN Security Council agreed, they just didn’t want to do anything about it. The left in America, the Democrat Party from 1998 on, led by Bill Clinton and Tom Daschle, were warning us of the weapons of mass destruction in the arsenal of Saddam Hussein. The New York Times agreed, ex-President Clinton agreed, his wife, Mrs. Clinton agreed, John Kerry didn’t flip-flop back in 1998. They all knew that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. It wasn’t consensus, it was fact. He had used them. It was not consensus. It was near unanimous that Saddam had weapon — well, probably never was to Dennis Kucinich. But it was unanimous to everybody. It was factual. Yet this myth has survived that there was no Al-Qaeda and there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction.
See, when you’re not the senior officer of the United States government, i.e., the president, then you’re free to just go off the reservation and say you were lied to and you were made a fool of and so forth. The president can’t do that. He has to stand by what he does, and that’s something the Democrats still are not doing. Even though they have the majority in the House and Senate, they’re still acting like the minority, these little petulant kids in the sandbox going no, no, no, no, no, to everything.