Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The sillier-every-day "controversy" over the Wilson/Plame accusations leaves me mostly indifferent...except for the part that CIA Director George Tenet plays in it. According to Andrew Sullivan, the whole affair was singlehandedly revived by Tenet after two months in which no one particularly cared about it:

Then over the weekend, news broke that George Tenet was ticked off about the affair and an "administration official" (CIA?) told the Washington Post that two government sources had actually cold-called six hacks and "outed" Wilson's wife around the same time as Novak's conversation.

This got me mad. I have been irritated with Tenet for a long time--since September 11, 2001, to be exact. We now know that the 9/11 operation was not run by Mohamed Atta, as we believed until recently, but by veteran al-Qaeda operatives Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaq Al-Hazmi, who ended up on Flight 77:

[Khalid Sheikh] Mohammed portrays those two hijackers as central to the plot, and even more important than Mohammed Atta, initially identified by Americans as the likely hijacking ringleader. Mohammed said he communicated with al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar while they were in the United States by using Internet chat software, the reports states.

Mohammed said al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were among the four original operatives bin Laden assigned to him for the plot, a significant revelation because those were the only two hijackers whom U.S. authorities were frantically seeking for terrorist ties in the final days before Sept. 11.

The reason for the frantic searching? For that we have to go back to January 5, 2000 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the two terrorists, attended an Al-Qaeda meeting where both the upcoming bombing of the USS Cole and the 9/11 operation were discussed. Their presence at the site of the meeting was recorded on surveillance video by Malaysian security services and the information forwarded to the CIA. However, for some reason which has never been explained, the CIA did not give their names to the INS until August 21, 2001, and to the FBI two days after that. Of course by that time, the two were both in the USA getting ready to kill 3,000 Americans, which they successfully managed three weeks later.

What I want to hear from Tenet is an explanation for why the CIA sat on this information for 19 months. That's what I want to hear from him, not this politicized nonsense. In my opinion, Tenet is lucky he isn't in jail for criminal negligence.

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