Thursday, June 03, 2004

Uh-Oh, Jonny's Getting Political Again

In the magic biz, they call it sleight of hand.

If you haven't heard, CIA Director George Tenet announced his resignation today. While I've been trying to keep the political to a minimum here, I couldn't help but type a few thoughts about this.

Tenet has been the CIA chief for seven years. He was appointed by then president Bill Clinton, and was kept on by George W. Bush because, quite frankly, everyone seemed to like him. The CIA was in the dumps before he came along; struggling to find a purpose in a post-Cold War world. And Tenet was gradually beginning to give them that purpose, the key word being gradual. September 11th forced him to move much faster than government organizations generally like to go. Gradual evolution turned to terrorist-frenzy revolution. And they've still got a long way to go. But it won't be with Tenet at the forefront.

Tenet has come under a lot of criticism for the CIA's intelligence miss-steps pre-September 11th. And because he is the Director, that's part of his job description. But of all the people to take a fall while the war in Iraq is loosing domestic support here in the States, Tenet is the least likely figure. If anyone is to blame for post-war operations in Iraq, it's the Pentagon. They ran into this war without a solid reconstruction game plan. And now we're paying the price for it. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Director Paul Wolfowitz, who head the Pentagon for President Bush, should take the lion's share of the blame for what's happening now. Not George Tenet.

Bush is nothing if he is not loyal. But he takes that to a fault sometimes. Bush claims that Tenet is leaving for personal reasons and that he will miss the CIA chief. And I really do believe that Bush believes that. Why? Because G.W. Bush is intensely loyal, and at a time when resignations need to be made by some of his staff, he has refused to call for them. Tenet, understanding the political landscape perhaps more than Bush, realizes that someone really needs to resign. And if no one else will do it, he'll take the fall.

If anything, it's Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz that come out more villainous in my mind after this resignation. Bush is just being Bush -- loyal and resolute. Tenet humbly takes the blame for as many of the problems in Iraq as the media and 9/11 Commission will give him credit for. While the Department of Defense gets away with major miscalculations in post-war Iraq, that have cost us, and continue to cost us, hundreds of American lives (not to mention an astronomical number of Iraqi lives as well).

Okay, I'm done.

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