Bill Kristol notes George Tenet’s imaginary encounter with the “neocon” for all seasons:
SCOTT SHANE REPORTED in Saturday’s New York Times that former CIA chief George Tenet’s dramatic description in his book, At the Center of the Storm, of an August 2002 presentation at the CIA by defense undersecretary Douglas Feith and his staff, is at the very least misleading. In order to suggest that Feith’s staff was utterly out of its depth, Tenet characterized the main briefer, Tina Shelton, as a “naval reservist.” In fact, she had been a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst for almost two decades. Tenet also claimed that Shelton said in her presentation of Iraq-al Qaeda contacts, “It is an open-and-shut case.” Shelton and Feith both deny she said that. One person who served in government with Shelton told THE WEEKLY STANDARD today he finds it “inconceivable” that Shelton, an experienced analyst, would have made such an unequivocal assertion.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has now learned of a second, more stunning error in Tenet’s book (which is due to appear in bookstores tomorrow). According to Michiko Kakutani’s review in Saturday’s Times,
On the day after 9/11, he [Tenet] adds, he ran into Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative and the head of the Defense Policy Board, coming out of the White House. He says Mr. Perle turned to him and said: “Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.”
Here’s the problem: Richard Perle was in France on that day, unable to fly back after September 11. In fact Perle did not return to the United State until September 15. Did Tenet perhaps merely get the date of this encounter wrong? Well, the quote Tenet ascribes to Perle hinges on the encounter taking place September 12: “Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday.” And Perle in any case categorically denies to THE WEEKLY STANDARD ever having said any such thing to Tenet, while coming out of the White House or anywhere else.
According to Kakutani, Tenet concludes by paraphrasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s comment: “Policymakers are entitled to their own opinions–but not to their own set of facts.” How many other facts has George Tenet invented?
In his update on Bill’s item at the Weekly Standard blog, Michael Goldfarb notes that Tenet repeated this fairy tale in the interview with 60 Minutes that aired tonight.
JOHN adds: So, it appears that, along with his other failings, George Tenet is a liar. Some will say that President Bush’s biggest mistake was trusting the key post of Director of Central Intelligence to a Democrat.
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