Just Above Sunset
June 6, 2004: Thursday was supposed to be a slow news day and no one told George Tenet.

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Let’s see, last Thursday George Tenet resigned as CIA director - a post he's held for nearly seven years – and as a fellow cited below points out, that’s longer than anyone since Allen Dulles ran the agency under President Eisenhower.

There’s lots of speculation on this.  President Bush praised him and said he’d miss him, but, one supposes, now can say well, he, as president, never really wanted to go to war at all, at least not in Iraq, but Tenet tricked him with bad information and made him do it, and embarrassed Colin Powell who told the UN all sorts of wrong stuff Tenet told Powell was true.  Bad guy.  Now he’s gone.

No, that won’t happen.  Tenet must have the goods on a lot of people.  But something strange is going on.

There are twenty or thirty theories floating around on what this is all about.

But the “how this was done” is most curious.

The New York Times account


Mr. Bush announced the resignation in a way that was almost bizarre.  He had just addressed reporters and photographers in a fairly innocuous Rose Garden session with Australia's prime minister, John Howard.  Then the session was adjourned, as Mr. Bush apparently prepared to depart for nearby Andrews Air Force Base and his flight to Europe, where he is to take part in ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion and meet European leaders — some of whom have been sharply critical of the campaign in Iraq. 

But minutes later, Mr. Bush reappeared on the sun-drenched White House lawn, stunning listeners with the news of Mr.  Tenet's resignation, which the president said would be effective in mid-July.  Until then, Mr. Bush said, the C.I.A.'s deputy director, John McLaughlin, will be acting director. 

The president praised Mr. Tenet's qualities as a public servant, saying: "He's strong.  He's resolute.  He's served his nation as the director for seven years.  He has been a strong and able leader at the agency.  He's been a, he's been a strong leader in the war on terror, and I will miss him."

Then Mr. Bush walked away, declining to take questions or offer any insight into what Mr. Tenet's personal reasons might be. 


Well, he’s the president.  He doesn’t have to explain anything to anyone.

He doesn’t need to explain why the Pentagon has begun polygraph testing of employees in an attempt to find out who leaked information to that Chalabi fellow about Iran.


The polygraph examinations, which are being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are focused initially on a small number of Pentagon employees who had access to the information that was compromised.  American intelligence officials have said that Mr. Chalabi informed Iran that the United States had broken the secret codes used by Iranian intelligence to transmit confidential messages to posts around the world.


Interesting times over at the OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense), no?

And as Josh Marshall points out, it has been an interesting week so far: “… beside the possibility that the White House's favored Iraqi exile was an Iranian agent, that the spy chief just got canned, that the OSD is wired to polygraphs, and that the president has had to retain outside counsel in the investigation into which members of his staff burned one of the country's own spies, I'd say the place is being run like a pretty well-oiled machine

Yep, time for a European vacation.

And Bush is hiring a personal lawyer?

See It's been a bad week for the Bushies.
Fred Kaplan - Posted Thursday, June 3, 2004, at 2:35 PM PT at SLATE.COM

Bush may need one:


…the Valerie Plame affair is gaining traction.  A grand jury has apparently been at work for some time, investigating who might have told reporters that Plame was an undercover CIA agent.  It was revealed yesterday that President Bush himself has sought the services of an outside lawyer in case he is called to testify.  The widespread suspicion is that a White House operative exposed Plame in order to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who publicly revealed that Bush (or those around him) blatantly lied in claiming, in the lead up to war, that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium from Niger.  Exposing an undercover agent is not just a felony, it's one of the most reckless crimes that anyone armed with a security clearance could commit.  Again, the guardians of the crown jewels will not hesitate to lock up the culprit for as long as the book allows.  (Or, if they do let the guilty party slip away, expect dozens of the guardians to resign in protest.  Also expect the full roster of remaining undercover spies to come in from the cold.)


Geez, if Bush even tacitly approved of outing this woman and exposing her contacts and blowing her cover and all that, to get even for someone showing him up, by destroying the career of that someone’s wife… well, yes, Bush may need a lawyer. 

So Bush has one on retainer.  Best to have all your bases covered. 

Kaplan points out that another hit on the White House this week comes from Time Magazine.  They dug up – don’t ask how - a Pentagon e-mail message indicating that Vice President Dick Cheney played a role in arranging for Halliburton to win the multibillion-dollar, no-bid contracts for construction and logistics in post-Saddam Iraq.  Yes, Cheney had been CEO of Halliburton before Bush asked Cheney to select himself for his current position.  Yes, Halliburton is “profiting grandly” from the occupation.  Yes, the e-mail is the first tangible sign of a direct Cheney link. 

Oh well, these guys won the election – to the victors go the spoils.  What’s the point of gaining the ultimate height in domestic and international power if you can’t profit from it?  What, you win a contest and your supposed to decline the prize money? 

Kaplan does point out that “such blatant political interference in the awarding of a large military contract” is, at very least, a violation of Pentagon procurement regulations.  Rumsfeld can take care of that.  Who writes the regulations? 

We owe Bush and Cheney a lot for their steady leadership?  If we do, then they are simply collecting what is owed them by us.  Look at it this way.  We’re paying them for their service. 

Given all this stuff roiling around, Bush needs a European break – some good black coffee in Rome with “Bubbles” Berlusconi, a heavily sauced traditional French dinner with Chirac and the wives, and yes, a chat with the Pope to set that old man straight about what is proper and moral about preemptive war based on fear and misinformation.  Hey, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - as Horace said.  The Pope is good at Latin.  He’ll understand. 

A bad week?  Hardly. 

Kaplan says that “the walls haven't collapsed around George W. Bush, but the pillars are buckling, the floorboards are rattling, the inspectors are probing, and it doesn't look good.”

Has the week so far been that bad? 

Yes, in the White House and the Pentagon, senior officials face the prospect of criminal charges.  And “…the vice president is accused of malfeasance, at best.  A key erstwhile ally in the war on terrorism has apparently turned against us in an act of criminal perfidy.  And now the nation's spymaster has turned in his cloak - it's not yet clear whether he jumped or got pushed; either way, Bush's risk-rating has just soared.”

What risk?  Dull, plodding John Kerry is hardly a threat. 

Kaplan also says we should not forget the Abu Ghraib scandal, which remains the subject of a half-dozen panels probing up and down the chain of command.  Why?  This may be the most remarkable sign of the scandal-strewn depths -- that even Abu Ghraib can be buried in the rubble.”

Rubble?  An administration in deep trouble? 

Maybe. But Bush represents firm leadership. He doesn’t give in. People respect that.

Consider this.

“I never apologized to the Arab world."


That was what Bush just said to the editorial board of Christianity Today about the Abu Ghraib prison abuses.

Don’t explain.  Don’t apologize.  Just do.

A conservative commentator, Andrew Sullivan, a long-time Bush supporter, says this “speaks volumes about Bush's sense of personal responsibility.  He is a walking example of the following culture: ‘If it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else.’  But he just can't or won't see it.

Yeah, so?

Bush may have lost Andrew Sullivan, but Sullivan is openly gay and upset about Bush’s call for a change to the constitution to ban gay marriages.  He feels Bush and the Republican Party have betrayed him.  But he doesn’t matter. 

Bush knows his real base.  They want a leader who won’t explain (and actually, given his meager intellect, personal history of drug and alcohol abuse, and lack of curiosity about most everything, Bush probably can’t explain much of anything, even to himself), who never apologizes, who has no doubts (he did say in that press conference last month that he could not think of any mistakes he had made) – they want a man who does things. 

Even if whole lot of what is done is done incompetently, on a vast, global scale, and riles up every would-be terrorist in the world, and creates tens of thousands more, and alienates almost all of our allies, and even if some of what is done may be a bit illegal and, yes, petty and spiteful, and gets a whole lot of our sons, daughters and friends killed or maimed for life, and even if the policies enacted may cause harm to the environment that may never be repaired, and even if the poor get locked in place with no escape and the wealthy profit greatly as the real wages of those who work for them fall and their own tax burden is gloriously lifted, and even if more Americans are without jobs than at any time since the Great Depression….  Oh heck, you get the idea. 

And least George is doing something.  That’s enough for a whole lot of our countrymen. 





And you will find this on the The Archive of Useful Pithy Observations... page today…


Doing good on even the tiniest scale requires more intelligence than most people possess.  They ought to be content with keeping out of mischief; it’s easier and doesn’t have such frightful results as trying to do good in the wrong way.  Twiddling the thumbs and having good manners are much more helpful, in most cases, than rushing about with good intentions and doing things.


     -  Aldous Huxley (1894-1963).


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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