Which lie am I speaking of? The one I discussed in my last diary here.
As I stated there, the circumstantial evidence uncovered by Ron Suskind in his book The One Percent Doctrine strongly suggests that George Tenet never said the case for Iraqi WMD was a "slam dunk," and that the Bush administration constructed that canard out of whole cloth, and fed it to their tool Bob Woodward ("let's give it to Mikey, he'll eat anything!") to publish to the world. It was an extremely useful lie, since it supported the White House's bigger thematic lie - that the Iraqi WMD debacle was the fault of poor intelligence gathering by the CIA, as opposed to the White House's unrelenting pressure and a single minded willingness to slant the evidence.
But they forgot something. There is a paper trail. Not a paper trail from the meeting itself, but a paper trail of White House coordinated statements that suggests that this "slam dunk" comment was a manufactured propaganda phrase in the days when the Iraq intelligence fiasco was becoming clear.
Let's remember some dates here. According to Suskind, this memo to Woodward containing the "slam dunk" comment was transmitted "not long before the reporter's final, December 11, 2003, interview with Bush for Plan of Attack, due out the following April."
So, sometime in the days before December 11, 2003, the "slam dunk" comment was committed to writing by the White House and transmitted to Woodward.
Which makes this article, dated November 18, 2003, quoting White House neocon ally James Woolsey, profoundly interesting:
Former CIA director James Woolsey said over the weekend that there's no question Iraq and al Qaeda worked together to plan attacks against U.S. interests during the decade leading up to 9/11, describing the evidence of an operational relationship as "a slam dunk."
"This is a slam dunk," the Clinton-era CIA chief contended, noting that his successor, George Tenet, had said the same thing in briefings last year.
Holy. Fucking. Shit. What are the odds that Tenet used the "slam dunk" phrase not once, but twice. And what are the odds that he was quoted by White House flacks as making that phrase twice in a two week period, once for each statement.
I'll tell what the odds are - not bloody likely. This was a period, remember, when the Iraq intelligence fiascos were just coming clear, and the White House was going into overdrive to blame the CIA. Clearly, the "slam dunk" phrase had entered the echo chamber, and the White House was determined to hang the phrase around Tenet's neck whatever it took.
We weren't in that room with Tenet, Bush and Cheney, so we'll never be able to say definitively what was said. But the circumstantial evidence is piling up that "slam dunk" was the result of an organized black-ops propaganda operation by the White House, using the unctuous stenographer Bob Woodward as the propaganda tool.
So I'll say what I think, based on the circumstantial evidence. George Tenet never said the Iraqi WMD evidence was a "slam dunk." Instead, it was a propaganda job by the White House.
But why would Tenet go along with this, you ask? Why didn't he stand up and say the "slam dunk" phrase was a lie, as soon as he saw it.
Suskind has an answer. To fully get the picture, you need to read pages 13 through 16 of The One Percent Doctrine. (Plus the rest the book, while you're at it.) However, I'll give you a taste:
When Republican Congressmen attacked Tenet in the days after 9/11, Bush came swiftly to his aid. "We cannot be second-guessing our team," the President told a group of angry congressmen aboard Air Force One on September 27, "and I'm not going to. The nation's at war. We need to encourage Congress to frankly leave the man alone. Tenet's doing a good job. And if he's not, blame me, not him.
At that point, George Tenet would do anything the President asked. Anything. And George W. Bush knew it
Nothing more needs to be said.
Cross Posted at Political Cortex