The CIA, George Tenet and the Path to 9/11

“No matter how hard we worked — or how desperately we tried — it was not enough. The victims and the families of 9/11 deserved better.”  — George Tenet, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in his testimony to the 9/11 Commission.

Under normal circumstances the release of the 2005 report from the Office of the Inspector General concerning the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 would have been just another bureaucratic report with little or no coverage in the media and would either be used by bureaucrats to improve their departments or as doorstops. There was a similar report done in August of 2001 by the same office on the CIA’s counterterrorism efforts.

In those days, “before the world changed,” the Office of the IG reported that “The DCI Counterterrorist Center is a well-managed component that successfully carries out the Agency’s (CIA) responsibilities to collect and analyze intelligence on international terrorism and to undermine the capabilities of terrorist groups.”  How could they, the IG, have gotten it so wrong then and are they right now? It’s simple; the lens at which we look at terrorism has changed.  Almost all templates that were being acted on were wrong before 9/11.

The OIG Report on the CIA Accountability With Respect to the 9/11 Attacks might have remained Top Secret except that the new guys on the block ordered — I mean, legislated — the release of the report thinking that it would reflect badly on the President.  That is why they do everything.  If Republicans keep the presidency in ’08, it will be in large part because the Democrats have never accepted that George W. Bush will never be on a ballot again. 

We’ve learned a great deal since 9/11, but the average American would be shocked at how little was done behind the scenes leading up to 9/11.  In addition, the average American knows that it was the failures of the intelligence agencies especially the CIA and George Tenet and the Clinton Administration to respond to the ever increasing severity of the attacks on American interests throughout the nineties.  That would not include the writers of the New York Times

When the IG report was released last week, the New York Times editorial stated, “The C.I.A. inspector general’s report on the agency’s failures before Sept. 11 was devastating  —  but not because it showed that America’s spies missed the rise of Al Qaeda. George Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, rang the Qaeda alarm. He sent a memo to the entire intelligence community saying that he wanted no effort spared in the “war” with Osama bin Laden. He took on the president’s closest advisers to agitate for a strike on a Qaeda base in Afghanistan. The disturbing thing was that this all happened under President Bill Clinton.”

The Clinton Legacy Protection Squad at the New York Times couldn’t even cover up their feelings on this.  This report chronicles mistakes made on the Clinton watch and there was no two ways about it. There is a problem with this reaction and there is a silver lining and I love silver linings.  For the last 15 years, we have been under the Clintonista way of government.  The shoot the messenger, blame game mode of operation.  They don’t take responsibility for anything and blame the other guy instead of fixing it and moving on. It was indicative of the loathing of the military and intelligence as a way of life that the Clintons live even today.

The American people have had it.  The don’t care if you are a neo-con, a DLC democrat or you get your marching orders from the left-wing blogs — they want you to perform.  I often say that it begins with your vote and finally with the immigration reform battle being won by the people, we are feeling our oats and are demanding our due.  I had lunch today with a table full of 20 somethings and they don’t care about political parties, they want politicians that tell the truth and to do their jobs and more importantly, let the professionals do their jobs.

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, head of the CIA, was not a fan of releasing the report.  He said, “It (the release of the report) will, at a minimum, consume time and attention revisiting ground that is already well plowed.” I would usually agree with that as long as the lessons are learned and reacted to internally.  But the release of this report at the “request” of the Democrat controlled Congress with the onus clearly placed on the Clinton Administration for the missed opportunities leading up to 9/11, then it can’t be called partisanship. 

Leftists aren’t happy unless they are beating a dead horse.  They measure their success in Congress by the number of hearings and investigations they are having and I suppose with a 14% approval rating, the folks must agree with them.  Even President Bush is more than twice as popular as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. What a country?

This would be amusing except we are talking about our national security and the very real threat of another attack on our own soil.  I want to learn from the mistakes leading up to 9/11 and fix them.  I don’t want to wake up tomorrow facing the news of another terror attack and have the only response by this Congress — “let’s launch an investigation!” Give intelligence agencies the tools to do their jobs and they will protect us.  The men and women of the CIA and other intelligence agencies within the government want to protect us and are professionals — but they can’t do their job if they have to be politicians, too.