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April 19, 2004


Brad DeLong

I share your amazement that Tenet still has a job. What pictures of whom *must* he have?


If the designation here is correct -- operations -- it possibly different implications than some might assume. Of course operations relates to collection, but it's the intelligence analysis side of the house that would be chiefly responsible for the estimate and judgements therein -- of which the WMD part is the real hook here, presumably.

For a harrowing read on both the Iraqi operations situation early-mid 90s, and the nearly unbelievable state of things in Central Asia a bit later, see Bob Baer's "See No Evil." He has his own perspective, but he seems a clear-eyed source for the actual state of operations where he was stationed, and his account astounding. On Iraq, he recounts the bothched/cancelled/whatever coup attempt he was in Kurdistan to help coordinate -- and how he was summoned forthwith back to Langley and shown to the counsel's office to discuss his possible liabilty for a criminal charge of some sort. I believe the message recalling him -- amazingly -- came directly from NS Advisor Lake. My memory of the details is a bit faded, just get the book and read it, it's a very fast read and a head-shaker.

Naturally the "intel failures" of late have garnered almost everyone's attention, yet few paid attention to the comparable failures on Iraq earlier (status/dimensions of nuke program pre-1991, bioweapons program nearly in its entirety, etc.). It's almost as if there's a pattern -- hard targets are hard, and we usually end up making best-guesses from what we've got. Not that many folks know much about WWII's Ultra, but they seem to assume such spectacular insights into adversaries' plans and actions are the norm.

I always loved that tacky old low-tech animated "Rudolph" Christmas special -- but I wish the common perception and benchmarks for intel weren't about as fanciful.

Oh, and seems there's mostly a low-drama explanation for Tenet's tenure, through, ahem, rather dramatic "events." He's the ultimate staffer, has always bonded with bosses, and in Dubya found not just good chemistry but someone who really doesn't fire staff of that level very readily (apparently!). At least that's what I hear from people familiar with both.

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