I have spent the last week both listening to the carefully laid explanations of George Tenant and the howling of those who dislike him. I have heard him carefully lay out what he did and how he could only do so much. I have also heard those who are trying to sort through his crafted story and berate him for not taking a stand. The one thing that is overlooked is that he was a spy. I don't mean a spy like James Bond was a spy. Or a spy like Smiley in the Le Claire novels. If he had been either, then a number of things would have turned out differently.
He was a beauracratic spy. He assembled all of the intelligence that staff presented to him, after it had been gathered by the operatives of the CIA and analyzed by staff. Then he in turn presented it to the administration for action. We know, because we lived through those times, that the intelligence was then refiltered, rewrote and ignored. There are a great number of people who want to know why he didn't do more. He, Mr. Tenant, tries to explain that he did all that he could or was at least supposed to do in regards to his job description. He has even explained how certain things were handled and how he wishes things could have been different.
Maybe, he is right in that there was a break down in the gathering and dissemination of the intelligence related to nine-eleven. I do not think, however, that we should fault our intelligence gathering or the agencies involved. The simple truth is that when the intelligence was presented it was ignored, as was the case with the Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001; Or it was reworked and reassembled to suit this Administration's needs,as was the case with the "yellow cake uranium" issue. I have heard Mr. Tenant explain how the CIA investigated, vetted and dismissed much of what was used to herd us to war with Iraq. Yet, here we are.
There are a number of other things that we should also consider. One is the animosity and down right distrust of the CIA within this Administration. This was laid out in Bob Woodwards book "State of Denial", with key people inside the Administration wanting to marginalize the CIA. Then, of course, there was the embracing of faulty intelligence that was provided to the Administration. Those things such as the "reconstituted WMD program". This intelligence was so bad and so false, But it was grabbed onto with the zeal of a hungry infant on its mother's tit and there was just no way the child was going to let go. I must give credit to the CIA for the debunking of that intelligence as has been pointed out by Mr. Tenant. However, our spoiled child clenched its teeth on the nipple and screamed out of the side of its mouth, "Be afraid, Be afraid".
What this nation needed then, pre nine-eleven, and now, was a spy like Elizabeth's Walsingham. One who would able to ferret out the plots against this nation and properly foil them. Instead, what we got was a Boris, as in Boris and Nastasha of Rocky and Bulwinkle fame. Of course, what would have really helped was if we had a leader such as Elizabeth and not a real life version of the cartoon character of Boris' Fearless Leader.