The boss just posted an interesting piece on THE DAILY STANDARD about George Tenet's soon-to-be-released At the Center of the Storm. It seems that Tenet has included some misleading statements in the book, as well at least one rather serious factual error. According to Kristol's reporting:
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has now learned of a . . . stunning error in Tenet's book (which is due to appear in bookstores tomorrow). According to Michiko Kakutani's review in Saturday's Times,
On the day after 9/11, he [Tenet] adds, he ran into Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative and the head of the Defense Policy Board, coming out of the White House. He says Mr. Perle turned to him and said: "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility."
Here's the problem: Richard Perle was in France on that day, unable to fly back after September 11. In fact Perle did not return to the United State until September 15. Did Tenet perhaps merely get the date of this encounter wrong? Well, the quote Tenet ascribes to Perle hinges on the encounter taking place September 12: "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday." And Perle in any case categorically denies to THE WEEKLY STANDARD ever having said any such thing to Tenet, while coming out of the White House or anywhere else.
Also, Kristol points to this questionable account Tenet gives of a 2002 meeting with Douglas Feith and his staff:
Scott Shane reported in Saturday's New York Times that former CIA chief George Tenet's dramatic description in his book, At the Center of the Storm, of an August 2002 presentation at the CIA by defense undersecretary Douglas Feith and his staff, is at the very least misleading. In order to suggest that Feith's staff was utterly out of its depth, Tenet characterized the main briefer, Tina Shelton, as a "naval reservist." In fact, she had been a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst for almost two decades. Tenet also claimed that Shelton said in her presentation of Iraq-al Qaeda contacts, "It is an open-and-shut case." Shelton and Feith both deny she said that. One person who served in government with Shelton told THE WEEKLY STANDARD today he finds it "inconceivable" that Shelton, an experienced analyst, would have made such an unequivocal assertion.
The bottom line: Kristol wonders "How many other facts has George Tenet invented?"
Update: In his interview with 60 Minutes tonight, Tenet repeated the story about running into Perle at the White House. Here's the transcript:
The truth of Iraq begins, according to Tenet, the day after the attack of Sept. 11, when he ran into Pentagon advisor Richard Perle at the White House.
"He said to me, 'Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday, they bear responsibility.' It's September the 12th. I've got the manifest with me that tell me al Qaeda did this. Nothing in my head that says there is any Iraqi involvement in this in any way shape or form and I remember thinking to myself, as I'm about to go brief the president, 'What the hell is he talking about?'" Tenet remembers.
If the truth of Iraq according to George Tenet begins with a fictional conversation...maybe Tenet's truth isn't so reliable.