Wednesday, August 22, 2007

George Tenet Outed By His Own CIA

A recently declassified internal CIA report eviscerated Clinton holdover George Tenet's actions as head of the agency when it came to dealing with counterterrorism.

The CIA inspector general's report was buried and kept secret for three years, and the report's 19-page Executive Summary was only posted on the CIA's Web site after pressure from congressional members who threatened to legislate its release. The purpose of the IG report was to decide whether any CIA employees should be disciplined for failures in intelligence actions related to the 9/11 attacks.

Unlike the politically motivated 9/11 Commission,the IG's report was designed to name names and ferret out responsible parties...which is exactly why it was buried.

According to the report, The CIA had no concerted strategy to deal with al Qaeda in the months leading up to the 9/11 attacks and was guilty of numerous multiple analytical and operational errors that effectively prevented the CIA from stopping the attack.

The report unequivocally states that the CIA and its officers "did not discharge their responsibilities in a satisfactory manner."

Considering that President Clinton was otherwise engaged and that his own attorney general prevented the Able/Danger group from sharing intel on Mohammed Atta and the other 9/11 attackers with other intelligence agencies, I'd say the failure goes a little deeper than the CIA and its officers, but nevertheless, the new report is a breath of fresh air compared to what's gone on previously.

According to the report, the CIA was guilty of "failure to implement and manage important processes, to follow through with operations, and to properly share and analyze critical data."

It faults Tenet directly for failing to resolve conflicts with other agencies like the NSA, and says bluntly that Tenet "did not use all of his authorities in leading the intelligence community's strategic effort against" bin Laden.

Mr. Tenet was "either unwilling or unable to marshal the full range of [intelligence community] resources necessary to combat the growing threat to the United States," the report said.

Interestingly, it also notes that the CIA was restricted by post-Watergate "dirty asset" rules that limited recruitment( guess who put those rules in place) and relied too heavily on `foreign agencies' for information. In particular, the report says that CIA ties to Saudi Arabia limited the agency's ability to understand and stop al Qaeda.

Fancy that...they were actually relying on the Saudis for intelligence on jihad!

Of course, the blame doesn't totally revolve around President Clinton and his administration. The report recommended that the CIA should create an "accountability board" of non-CIA personnel to review the failures..something the Bush Administration never did, in an obvious effort to keep a few things buried and cover a few bureaucratic assets.

I would also mention that, knowing what the Bush Administration knew about the Clinton Administration's attitude towards intelligence and national security, keeping George Tenet in place was likely a serious error.

That became apparent later when Tenet allied with then Secretary of State Colin Powell to recommend the occupation of Iraq and `Arab democracy', as opposed to the Rumsfeld-Cheney recommendation of a major punitive strike against Iraq that would cripple Saddam's WMD and military capacity but avoid a US occupation, with all that it entailed.

President Bush opted for Tenet and Powell's plan...with some unfortunate results.


hank_F_M said...

. . . Tenet allied with then Secretary of State Colin Powell to recommend the occupation of Iraq and `Arab democracy', as opposed to the Rumsfeld-Cheney recommendation of a major punitive strike against Iran that would cripple Saddam's WMD and military capacity but avoid a US occupation, with all that it entailed.

The contest implies Iraq rather than Iran.

Do you have a source, you here som many versions of what happened in the prewar "discusions" of statagy.

Most of what I have read from puts Rumsfeld as the principle advocate for invaison. Have you read Gen Franks book. Not just the big policy disucssion but in the little details that never seem to make the main news Rumsfeld comes across as strongly pushing invasion. Powell comes across as reclutant finally only giving his blessing to the operational plan after "murder boarding" Franks plan.

I think in fifty years some historian will read every thing by everybody and say they were all wrong about who supported what in the war planning.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Hank.
Thanks for dropping by.

I have a different take on what 's in Franks' book. one source on Rumsfeld's views you might find interesting is Brigadier General Mark Scheid, chief of the Logistics War Plans Division after 9/11, and one of the people with primary responsibility for war planning, who was quoted in an interview with Orin Kerr as having been told by Rumsfeld to plan for a war with Iraq, but not to bother planning for a long stay:

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us ... that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

Jed Babbin, deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration has also weighed in on this topic.

Dick Cheney was likewise opposed to a ground invasion of Iraq, and in a remarkable interview with him has surfaced that was done just after the first Gulf War, he accurately predicted every one of the problems we've encounteredand gave them as good reasons whyhe advised the first President Bush not to invade Iraq.

I don't have a link to this but it was featured on Al Rantel's radio show on KABC last week, as well as other places, and you may be able to find it.

Thanks for dropping by.


hank_F_M said...


Thanks that is much clearer.

I think a better explanation than the one in your link is that Rumsfeld had a misunderstanding of what the political situation after the invasion would be. The President opted, mostly, to support his plan. He did not think a long stay would be necessary and issued orders on that basis. He was wrong. He rejected more traditional advice (such as general Powell would give) built on assumption that one should plan for the worst case and add a large fudge factor. The post combat assumptions the plan was built did not happen. The reserve units that were trained to handle that sort of situation were still demobilized in the US. Our combat units found themselves with mission that was not their specialty but still did a better job than one would expect. I think that the opinion of Rumsfeld and others that all that was necessary on the part of the US would be to topple Sadam was genuine. He and many others in the administration also had a belief that the existing staffs were misguided and that they knew better, so they were not inclined to listen. It is not that Rumsfled was not supporting a establishing a democratic Iraq, he grossly misunderstood what was necessary.

A post of mine saying something very similar to General Scheid

Not to be overstated but a possible reason the warning sirens did not go off in the back of the mind of many in the administration can be found in Military Culture Wars.

A critical but fair assessment of the administrations military policies good and bad. Scatted through out our points directly related to the administrations post war planning.

Anonymous said...

Clearly what we ended up with was a force structure that was to large to avoid the responsibility of managing Iraq but not large enough to actually do it effectively!! In order to properly manage Iraq we would have needed at least 500,000 troops and probably much more.

I'm not sure how this happened. Admittedly what I read on this may not be correct. It is my understanding that Rumsfeld wanted a much smaller force that would have relied heavily on air power and special forces while leaving most of the ground fighting to the militias. In contrast, Colin Powell wanted a large force structure that would have actually been able to control the country. FRom my understanding the force structure we ended up with was a compromise between the Rumsfeld and Powell plans.

Personally I like the Powell plan better. With this plan we would have more of wiggle room in the case of the inevitable human errors, however, either pan may have worked if properly implemented.

What does seem clear is that the force structure we ended up with is not large enough to effectively control the country but it is too small to actually do it effectively!! Also, the very restrictive rules of engagement our soldiers have had to fight under have been extremely unhelpful.

If the goal is going to be to defeat Al Qaeda and eliminate Iranian influence from Iraq, I estimate we will need signifcantly more troops and the rules of engageement will need to be eliminated so that the military can more effectively engage the enemy. It is very likely that if the military is not forced to fight under such tight rules of engagement that we will need less troops than we would with the current rules of engagement. Also, I think the Iraqis would respect us more.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Hank ,
I can't totally agree with you on this. The SecDef does not make policy. He implements if after getting his orders from the president, with the men and material authorized by the president.

The president got two sets of advice on how to handle Saddam, and chose the idea of making Iraq the model for `Arab democracy'...which, as we see what NOT what Rumsfeld and Cheney advised. Rumsfeld cannot be faulted for contingency plans that he ordered the military to draft for an entirely different scenario, or for the implementation of a policy he never endorsed from the start.

In short, he was a scapegoat.

Hi Poster
Actually, Rumsfeld and Cheney did not want to send ground troops into Iraq at all, much less occupy it.

The occupation scenario came from Colin Powell and George Tenet.

I don't know if you read this, Poster, but it may give some interesting food for thought on how and why we invaded Iraq.

The problem there is not `military control' IMO, but the pro-Iran Shiite government Bush allowed to take over and the sanctuaries for our enemies in Syria and Iran, as well as the Saudis being perfectly okay with jihad fighters coming leaving their country to kill Americans and Iraqis.

Either the country will fragment into at least 3 ethnic and tribal enclaves ( which is where I think this is going)or the government will have to be deposed and a military governor put in place...unless we confront Iran and the Saudis,which changes the whole ballgame.

The rules of engagement are not what they were before Gen. Petraeus took over, and his COIN strategy is working well, but the political contingent and the behavior of neighboring countries remains the problem.

Anonymous said...

Freedom Fighter,

As always thanks for the reply to my post. If Powell and Tenet supported an occupation of Iraq and Cheney and Rumsfeld did not, then it is not surprising that the media elites would seek to vilify Cheney and Rumsfeld. Powell and Tenet are media darlings, especially Colin Powell. They would need to slander someone else so that the reputation of their boys would remain in tact.

This touches on a problem with the Bush Administration. They have tended to treat treat the people who work for them like crap. If you are correct, then Rumsfeld was fed to the dogs in an attempt to appease the dogs. I think you are correct, as this has been consistent with how Bush and company have treated those in the Administration. The Bush Administration undermines those who are its friends or who are contemplating becoming its friends and it attempts to appease its enemies. This is no way to win friends and influence people.

It is no wonder that Bush is so unpopular. As a general rule, powerful special interest groups have concluded that it is more profitable and less risky to be an enemy of the Bush Administration. If you support the Bush Administration, they will sacrifice you to their enemies in an attempt to appease their enemies. If you oppose the Bush Administration, they will offer you any number of goodies in an attempt to appease you. With this style of leadership it is not surprising that the Bush Administration has so many enemies around the world.

Finally, the Bush Administration owes their victory in two elections to Conservatives. In appreciation his administration has sacrificed their interests in order to try and appease their enemies. This is but one of many examples.