In the Washington Post column “How the CIA failed America,” Richard Perle responds to George Tenet and to Tenet’s false anecdote about him in Tenet’s new book. Perle writes:
Understandably anxious to counter the myth that we went into Iraq on the basis of his agency’s faulty intelligence, Tenet seeks to substitute another myth: that the decision to remove Saddam Hussein resulted from the nefarious influence of the vice president and a cabal of neoconservative intellectuals. To advance that idea, a theme of his book, he has attributed to me, and to others, statements that were never made.
Careful readers will see at once that what Tenet calls “corroboration” [of Tenet’s memory regarding Perle’s purported statement quoted by Tenet] is nothing of the sort. But Tenet is not a careful reader — a serious deficiency in a CIA director and a catastrophe for an intelligence organization. Indeed, sloppy analysis and imprecision with evidence got Tenet and the rest of us stuck in a credibility gap that continues to damage our foreign policy.
George Tenet and, more important, our premier intelligence organization managed to find weapons of mass destruction that did not exist while failing to find links to terrorists that did — all while missing completely the rise of Islamist fundamentalism. We have made only a down payment on the price of that failure.
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