Richard Perle lauches a scathing attack on George Tenet, the former Director of the CIA, in the Washington Post today. Perle argues that Tenet let down the United States through faulty decision making- and comments like the 'slam dunk' (which Tenet disputes) would seem to support such an allegation. But Perle goes further than that, he argues that the failure was not just Tenet's
George Tenet and, more important, our premier intelligence organization managed to find weapons of mass destruction that did not exist while failing to find links to terrorists that did -- all while missing completely the rise of Islamist fundamentalism.
Mr Perle has had a bit of a memory loss because actually the intelligence agencies were much less confident than Mr Perle about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq- the Knight Ridder news service for example reported in September 2002 that officials expressed doubts about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. As Bill Moyer's recent program made clear the difference between Knight Ridder and other journalists was that the Knight Ridder guys went to the CIA and asked them questions, the others went to Mr Perle and his friends who gave different answers. Mr Perle and his friends wanted to beleive that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and took any indication to say that there were- furthermore it seems that Mr Perle still beleives in the link between Bin-Laden and Hussein- the point about Mr Perle is that in criticising Mr Tenet he is avoiding his own problem. Mr Tenet may well have been a bad CIA head. But plenty of people in the intelligence community had doubts about weapons of mass destruction, plenty of people in the intelligence community (Richard Clarke for one) warned about Islamic terrorism- it was Mr Perle and his friends who erased the doubts and told us that terrorism was linked to Iraq. Until Mr Perle recognises that he and his friends including those in the White House made this war and should bear the responsibility for it, and should think about why they got it wrong, I'm not sure he is in a position to criticise anyone else's behaviour.