If you thought the neo-crazies had lost control over President Bush, think again. A neo-crazy delegation – headed by Richard Perle – marched up to the White House last week and demanded that Bush fire Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet.
Quoth Perle, “There is a smear campaign under way, and it is being perpetrated by the CIA and the DIA and a gaggle of former intelligence officers who have succeeded in planting these stories, which are accepted with hardly any scrutiny.”
Whom did Tenet smear? Ahmad Chalabi. The neo-crazy darling who provided the disinformation – accepted with hardly any scrutiny by neo-crazy media sycophants – used to “justify” Bush’s pre-emptive invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Well, there are lots of reasons to fire Tenet, but “smearing” Chalabi is not one of them. If anything, Tenet should be fired for not exposing Chalabi years ago.
Actually, Tenet never should have been named DCI in the first place.
In April 1999, DCI Tenet “confirmed” the information contained in the yet unreleased Cox Committee report – but already “leaked” to the New York Times – that China “obtained by espionage” classified U.S. nuclear weapons information.
Tenet also said China had obtained information on several U.S. “nuclear re-entry vehicles,” including one containing the “W-88 nuclear warhead.”
China? W-88 warhead? The New York Times had already revealed the leaked information that Taiwanese-born Wen Ho Lee – who had worked on the W-88 warhead at Los Alamos National Lab – was the FBI’s prime suspect.
Then, after nine months of fruitless investigation, the FBI arrested U.S. citizen Wen Ho Lee anyway, and charged him with 59 counts of “mishandling classified information.”
So, they threw him into jail. Solitary confinement. Lights on in his cell, day and night. Frequent interrogation. Lie-detector tests. Threats of execution. Threats about what might happen to his family if he didn’t confess.
Then, inexplicably, in September 2000, nine months after his arrest and confinement, they told Wen Ho they would let him go if he would plead guilty to one measly little count of “mishandling” classified data.
So what has all that got to do with Tenet’s unsuitability to be DCI?
Well, Tenet was acting DCI in December 1996 when the absolutely mind-blowing mishandling and misuse of highly classified data by departing CIA Director John Deutch was discovered by horrified CIA investigators.
For years, Deutch had been creating classified data files, on personal computers at his homes and on portable memory cards. That was bad enough. But many of these files were based upon “sensitive compartmented information” and “special access programs,” and Deutch had shared this information – via e-mail – with various “uncleared” White House officials. That’s almost unbelievable.
Presumably, Tenet was as horrified as the CIA investigators and immediately notified President Clinton of what Deutch had done. By law, Tenet was required to immediately notify the Justice Department and to file a “crimes report.” We now know Tenet didn’t’ file a “crimes report” until March 1998, and didn’t get around to telling Congress until February 2000, whereupon a “redacted” version was made public.
By then, Wen Ho had been in solitary confinement for three months.
There was an immediate international hue and cry. Wen Ho Lee was in prison, in solitary confinement, charged not with espionage but with “mishandling classified data.” Where was John Deutch, the mother of all classified-data mishandlers?
Well, in December of 1997 – a year after the Deutch “crimes” had been discovered and six months after a CIA internal investigation of those “crimes” had been completed – President Clinton had appointed Deutch to be co-chairman of the Commission to Assess the Organization of the Federal Government to Combat the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction!
Tenet – ignoring the recommendations of his own investigators – promptly gave Deutch the high-level security clearances he would need as co-chairman. Tenet quietly “stripped” Deutch of those clearances in August of 1999, months after the commission had completed its report and more than a year after the Deutch “crimes report” had been filed.
The Director of Central Intelligence has the key role in our system for protecting “classified” information. So you may be wondering how President Clinton came to appoint a man like John Deutch – who, according to the CIA’s report to Congress, had displayed contempt for the system throughout his government career – to be DCI – and whether Clinton appointed George Tenet to be DCI because of the way he handled the Deutch affair, or in spite of it.