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Human Events Asks Senators: Did Tenet Mislead Congress on Iraq Intel?

At the beginning of October 2002, George Tenet, a Clinton appointee who was then director of central intelligence, delivered a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs to Congress.

The NIE, which had been requested by Sen. Richard Durbin (D.-Ill.), concluded that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. As it turned out, only a handful of senators bothered to read the report before the Senate voted on Oct. 11, 2002, to authorize war in Iraq.

If President Bush misled with claims that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear program and had chemical and biological weapons stockpiles, then Tenet must also have misled Congress in his NIE. Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the presidential Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, which investigated the CIA’s pre-war claims about Iraq, concluded that the CIA did not distort intelligence for political reasons, but had simply made the wrong conclusions.

Because some Senate Democrats continue to argue that Bush misled America into war, Human Events Assistant Editor Amanda Carpenter asked senators last week if they believed that Tenet, too, had intentionally falsified the conclusions about Saddam’s weapons programs in the 2002 NIE.

She asked the question, among other places, at a November 14 press conference held by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.), Durbin and Sen. Carl Levin (D.-Mich.). Reid answered as recorded below, and then said the next question would be the final one of the press conference. Another reporter then asked the three senators if they had the same pre-war intelligence President Bush had. Durbin responded to this at length. Then Levin gave a lengthy answer focusing on remarks White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had made to rebut the Democratic charges that Bush had manipulated intelligence. Levin’s long answer did not mention Tenet or the NIE. So, the next day Carpenter asked him about Tenet again.

 


 

Do you believe that DCI George Tenet, who was appointed by Clinton, intentionally falsified—

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D.-MICH.): That was the same question you asked the other day and I gave you [an] answer.

Yeah, it is, but I didn’t get a straight answer from you.

LEVIN: Sorry? I was very straight. Where are you from?

Human Events, sir.

LEVIN: Yeah.

So, can I follow up? The Washington Post reported—

LEVIN: No! I answered this—

There were six senators that read [the NIE]. Were you one of those six? Did you read the NIE? Sir, are you not going to answer that question?

LEVIN: I answered the question the other day. You did not print it.

We haven’t had our edition yet. We go to print on Thursday.

LEVIN: You said that was not a straight answer. That means you are now acting as though you are the person—

I will print every word that you say if you answer this question. Are you choosing not to answer it?

LEVIN: You print what I already told you.

 


 

Do you believe that DCI George Tenet, appointed by your husband, intentionally falsified any of the evidence in his 2002 NIE about WMDs and reconstituting its nuclear program?

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D.-N.Y.): You know I have nothing to say about that. It’s one of the complicated issues surrounding intelligence that I think need to be looked into by the committee.

 


 

Do you believe that George Tenet intentionally falsified the evidence, the information, in his 2002 NIE that Iraq had WMDs and was reconstituting its nuclear program?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D.-calif): I don’t understand the question.

You asked for this report, that he made in 2002, to find if they had a nuclear program. He said yes. Then, the vote happened to go to war days later. Do you think he falsified any of that evidence?

FEINSTEIN: I can’t answer your question.

You can’t? I mean, I know you voted against the war, but do you think—

FEINSTEIN: I voted for the war, but I can’t answer this question. I don’t understand it.

 


 

Do you believe that DCI George Tenet, appointed by Bill Clinton, intentionally falsified any of the evidence in his 2002—

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R.-Utah): No.

No?

HATCH: No, I don’t believe that and I know George very well. But I think that, clearly, the reports were not accurate and I don’t know what all the reasons are for that, although I have a good idea of it. But, not only the President relied on the faulty intelligence, but so did all these Democrats who are now screaming after having voted for the war, after having said that they knew there were WMDs there. They’re now all, of course, claiming it’s the President’s fault. Well, it isn’t.

 


 

Do you believe DCI George Tenet, who was appointed by Clinton, intentionally falsified any of the evidence in his 2002 NIE about WMDs or the nuclear program—

KERRY: I have no idea. I don’t make any presumption. I think that’s why, you know, an investigation, you know—I tend to think he wouldn’t. I want to believe he wouldn’t, but I don’t know.

 


 

Do you believe DCI George Tenet, who was appointed by Clinton, intentionally falsified any of the evidence in his 2002 NIE that Iraq had WMDs and was reconstituting its nuclear program?

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D.-conn.): Well, I say this and I certainly don’t know of anything that would lead me to answer that question yes. So, in other words the answer is no from what I know.

 


 

Do you believe that DCI George Tenet, who was appointed by Clinton, intentionally falsified any of the information—

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R.-KAN.): No.

In his 2002 NIE—

ROBERTS: No.

So what do you make of the Democrats saying you know, we were lied into war, but actually asked for this report?

ROBERTS: We were not lied into war and most of the people who are saying we are, know that. Others are simply depending on reports in the mainstream media, which have been distorted historically and have taken us away from the truth.

 


 

Do you believe DCI George Tenet, who was appointed by Clinton, intentionally falsified information in his 2002 NIE that Iraq had WMDs and was reconstituting its nuclear program?

SEN. HARRY REID (D.-NEV.): For me, personally, I think I would recognize that the information I had prior to the resolution, I based it on a number of things: yellow cake, aluminum tubes, secret meetings by Iraqi agents in Europe, training facilities in Iraq, training terrorists. All of these things were simply not true. The administration knew that, and they did not share that with me or anyone else in Congress that I know of.

But do you think George Tenet intentionally falsified—

REID: I don’t know George Tenet, what he did or didn’t do. There were private conversations. He did not share any of the information with me. The point I’m trying to make is that we’ve learned in recent months that anyone who disagreed with their policy—proverbially taken to the woodshed. And all you have to do is ask Amb. [Joseph] Wilson that, and there are a number of others, including the secretary of state’s chief of staff—his chief of staff. I’m just always impressed with his stepping forward, Colonel Wilkerson, who says, and I quote, “In President Bush’s first term, some of the most important decisions about United States national security, including vital decisions about post-war Iraq, were made by a secretive, little-known cabal that was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But the secret process was ultimately a failure. It produced a series of disastrous decisions,” end of quote. And so, I say, simply, these “bad decisions” is what we’re living with today.

 


 

Do you believe DCI George Tenet, who was appointed by Clinton, intentionally falsified any of the evidence in his 2002 NIE that Iraq had WMD’s and was reconstituting its nuclear program?

SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R.-OHIO): Falsified?

Yes. It’s a yes or no question.

DEWINE: No, he didn’t falsify.


Do you believe DCI George Tenet, who was appointed by Clinton, intentionally falsified any of the evidence in his 2002 NIE that Iraq had WMD’s and was reconstituting its nuclear program?

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R.-MISS.):  No.

 


 

Do you believe DCI George Tenet intentionally falsified the information in his 2002 NIE that Iraq had WMD’s and was reconstituting its nuclear program?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D.-N.Y.): One of the issues here is, this is the fallacy of what Secretary Rumsfeld said today and the President said the other day. We don’t have complete access to the intelligence information. We don’t have our own Democratic CIA or senatorial CIA.  The bottom line is very simple and that is we get the intelligence that they give us.  And, we don’t have access to the information that went into the NIE.  We don’t have access to so many different parts of intelligence for them to say, “Oh, you had the same access we did” anyone who knows anything about intelligence knows that’s not true.

 


 

Do you believe DCI George Tenet appointed by Clinton, intentionally falsified the information in his 2002 NIE that Iraq had WMD’s and was reconstituting its nuclear program?

SEN. RON WYDEN (D.-ORE.): Look, I was one of 23 who voted against the Iraq War. I laid out my reasons. I don’t think the intelligence added up.

Written By

Miss Carpenter was formerly a congressional correspondent & assistant editor for HUMAN EVENTS. She is the author of "The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy's Dossier on Hillary Rodham Clinton," published by Regnery (a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).

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