Hit & Run

New Book Passes Old Buck

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Former CIA Director George Tenet's new book is - shockingly! - a stab at a face-save three years after he quit his job. The man who led our intelligence efforts after 9/11 things it's important we all know that he's a whiny, whiny whelp.

Mr. Tenet described with sarcasm watching an episode of "Meet the Press" last September in which Mr. Cheney twice referred to Mr. Tenet's "slam dunk" remark as the basis for the decision to go to war.

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

As violence in Iraq spiraled beginning in late 2003, Mr. Tenet writes, "rather than acknowledge responsibility, the administration's message was: Don't blame us. George Tenet and the C.I.A. got us into this mess."

Mr. Tenet takes blame for the flawed 2002 National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq's weapons programs, calling the episode "one of the lowest moments of my seven-year tenure." He expresses regret that the document was not more nuanced, but says there was no doubt in his mind at the time that Saddam Hussein possessed unconventional weapons. "In retrospect, we got it wrong partly because the truth was so implausible," he writes.

A humble prediction: Every White House memoir that isn't from Bush or Cheney himself will take this tone. It will not be accompanied by said White House vet melting down his/her Medal of Freedom or renouncing speaking fees as he/she publicly flagellates himself for his/her wrongdoing.

If Tenet was so shaky and ashamed about his role providing flawed intelligence, why did he stay on so long at the CIA? What was it about the Bush administration that begged that kind of loyalty?