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Was George Tenet Responsible for 911 and the war?

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2003 by RDFollendoreIII

The Director of the CIA chose to fall on his sword for his boss.  But regardless of your opinion of this administration, or the issues that were presented as justifications for the Invasion and occupation of Iraq, the fact is that it is the President that must be held accountable for both his actions as well as the actions of his administration.  President Harry S. Truman knew the reasons why when he communicated to the American people, that the buck stopped at his desk.  

 

July 11, 2003

When George W. Bush stated that Iraq was building a nuclear program by seeking radioactive materials from Africa, he certainly realized that this was the most important political argument that he could possibly give to condemn the government of Iraq and justify an American military invasion.   Today the Director of the CIA took responsibility for the President making the false argument that took our country to war with Iraq.  

The questions to be investigated and asked are simple.  Who knew what when? Who works for whom? Who should be responsible if the President is not?  Can the Director of the CIA really be held responsible for approving the words of this President? After all, this is a President who has demonstrated that he has deliberately chosen not to listen to others.

There should be no doubt that the role of the Director of the CIA is a politically dominated position.  The Director of the CIA is not a lifetime appointment.  It is a job that is only usually held for few years. Because it is a position that is appointed by the President and approved by Congress, it can be no other way.  Every time a new Director is appointed, the ranks of the internal leadership are added to and shifted around to assure internal loyalties to the desires and wishes of the leader.  Pressures are put on ranks of the CIA through what is not said as much as what is said.   Make no mistake, the CIA is not in charge of the words coming from the White House.  

There are two basic problems that exist within the CIA.  The first involves maintaining White House command, control and accountability over the CIA.  The CIA is capable of taking action because it has been given the charter by the President through the Congress to do so.  The CIA should not be doing projects that are not in line with actions directed by the President in the White House and in line with the will of Congress.  We have all seen what happens when that does not occur. 

But as it's name implies, when you take away the mystique, the Central Intelligence Agency is mostly a bureaucratic collection organization for data and information that must be constantly processed by analysts.  It is this information that is used by Government leaders, including those in Congress and the White House. This means that the second problem of concern involves maintaining the integrity and quality of the information products that it produces.  The dilemma is that the lack of decision making independence that minimizes the problem of command, control and accountability is also a fundamental flaw in the integrity of the information processing which is supposed to be turned into knowledge that can be acted upon.  In effect, the more oversight and direction given by the White House, the less credible and more politically motivated the knowledge it receives from which to act.   

Condoleezza Rice may be digging this President's administration hole deeper by pushing the responsibility down to the President's subordinate in ways which undermine the Constitutional responsibilities and authority of the Presidential Office.  Evidently, Rice may not have been a student to the lessons of factional leadership that precipitated Watergate. The George W. Bush leadership is a powerful but flawed personality that is in some ways strikingly similar to Richard Nixon.  Both present themselves as forcefully righteous individuals who never fail.  Both have been deeply fearful of the grave errors that they make through the use of their masquerade in the face of reality.  There are very good reasons for President Bush to be afraid.   

If George Tenet is held to be at fault for the President's words that lead to the unilateral war on Iraq, then the President is, at the very least, responsible for the gross mismanagement within his administration. Moreover, a public precedent is being made that the CIA should review and approve Presidential statements.  When and if such a review does not occur, either through another internal failure or by Presidential choice, how will Congress and the American people know.  Such a White House policy would mean that the Office of President can never be blamed for it's statements and actions.  That is unacceptable because it violates the concept of Presidential accountability to the Congress, the Supreme Court, and to the American voters right to know. If on the other hand, the President was responsible for his words, that lead to the Iraq invasion, then any detectable attempt at stonewalling indicates that there is compelling evidence that our President knew and has deliberately mislead the American public.  

Now that the political public relations popularity ball seems to be rolling down hill for Mr. Bush, what is predictable from history is the potential of an avalanche of White House mistakes.  In a public and Constitutional pinch, members the White House that attempt to use political trickery against their political opponents are at a disadvantage. You can bet that this will not be over until after the Presidential elections.  If the Democrats push this issue, as they surely will and should, it is doubtful that the American people will believe that George Tenet was really responsible for the President's false statements.         

 

 

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