Tenet05 Feb 2004
You know, people are trying to spin Tenet’s speech today both ways, but it seems to me that statements like this are pretty difficult to spin as anything but a rejection of Bush’s attempts to blame intelligence as “faulty”:
Let me turn to the nuclear issue.
In the estimate, all agencies agree that Saddam Hussein wanted nuclear weapons. Most were convinced that he still had a program and if he obtained fissile material he could have a weapon within a year.
But we detected no such acquisition.
We made two judgments that get overlooked these days. We said that Saddam did not have a nuclear weapon and probably would have been unable to make one until 2007 to 2009.
Overlooked, indeed. Who do you suppose he’s referring to? He also makes it clear that they never said there was an imminent threat, but that they weren’t pressured, either:
Let me be clear: Analysts differed on several important aspects of these programs and those debates were spelled out in the estimate.
They never said there was an imminent threat. Rather, they painted an objective assessment for our policy-makers of a brutal dictator who was continuing his efforts to deceive and build programs that might constantly surprise us and threaten our interests. No one told us what to say or how to say it.
This speech stands as a direct refutation of quotes like this one, from President Bush on October 7, 2002:
Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
It seems to me that the point of his speech is clear: That the CIA will not be blamed for the White House’s systematic exaggeration of the Iraqi threat.