Ledeen Responds To Tenet

Michael Ledeen found himself in the middle of a controversy regarding the new book by former CIA chief George Tenet, and unexpectedly so. According to Ledeen, he had not been contacted by Tenet or his co-author for the book for his input. Nevertheless, Ledeen found Tenet’s scorn for him and his efforts to assist the intel community on Iran on the front page of the New York Times this past weekend. Now Ledeen responds at National Review Online, and he accuses Tenet of misrepresenting Ledeen’s efforts:

In December, 2001, I participated in discussions between two Pentagon officials and Iranians who claimed knowledge of Iranian-sponsored efforts to kill Americans in Afghanistan. We met in Rome, Italy over several days. The discussions were approved by Stephen Hadley, the deputy national-security adviser, and the two Defense department officials’ travel was approved by their superiors. The American ambassador in Rome was fully informed in advance, and fully briefed afterwards. The conversations produced detailed information about the identities, locations, and plans of Iranian-trained terrorists in Afghanistan. This was passed on to the proper authorities at the DoD, and I was later told by military officers that the information likely saved American lives.
Now comes the former director of central intelligence, George Tenet, with several pages about the meeting in his new book. He does not mention that American lives were saved, nor does he seem at all interested to learn that there were well-informed sources who were willing to help the American government. Nor, for that matter, is he much interested in the facts at all. His account is repeatedly wrong. He is wrong about the Iranians, wrong about the Americans, wrong about what was discussed, and wrong about the official status of the meeting. He misdescribes the Iranians as “dissidents” living overseas. He misidentifies the two Pentagon officials as subordinates of Under Secretary Douglas Feith (one of Tenet’s many betes noirs), but only one of them was in Feith’s shop. He says it “sounded like an off-the-books covert-action program trying to destabilize the Iranian government,” when the discussion was about Iranians in Afghanistan, not overthrowing the mullahs, and the meeting had been formally approved by the deputy national-security adviser (knowing Stephen Hadley, I presume he had the approval of his boss, Condoleezza Rice). Tenet calls it “Son of Iran-contra,” with which it had nothing in common save for the marginal involvement of Manoucher Ghorbanifar, who helped bring the Iranians to Italy, but was not a source of information. Someone might have reminded Tenet that Iran-Contra had to do with providing weapons to Iran in exchange for hostages, while the Rome meeting was about Iranian efforts to kill Americans in Afghanistan. Some parentage! He’s wrong about other things as well, some of which Ed Morrissey and Bill Kristol have pointed out.

Kristol pointed out a rather egregious error in Tenet’s post-9/11 narrative involving Richard Perle. Perle has acquired a Machiavellian reputation thanks to assertions like Tenet’s, only this time Tenet gets sloppy. He describes a conversation with Perle on 9/12 that supposedly shows the neocons in the Bush administration had determined from the first to use 9/11 as an excuse to attack Iraq — only the conversation could not possibly have happened:

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.

Tenet has yet to see his book hit the stores, and it already has serious credibility issues. He misidentifies a Defense Department analyst as a “naval reservist” in an attempt to belittle her credentials. Tenet can’t seem to understand that Iran-Contra involved arming the mullahs, not the dissidents. It’s a great display of why the CIA seems to have been rather incompetent during the years of his leadership. If the boss can’t get his facts straight, how can he have advised two presidents with any degree of competence at all?
Fortunately, Michael Ledeen had a few minutes to spare on Saturday afternoon for Mitch and me to interview him I’ve podcasted the main part of the interview here, where he rebuts Tenet and talks to us about Iran.

22 thoughts on “Ledeen Responds To Tenet”

  1. Iran Contra was about using Iranian assets paid by American money to arm the contras in Nicaragua in order to free hostages held by Hizb’allah [Party of God] in Lebanon. Otherwise the article is an excellent take.

  2. Yet I bet the MSM will swallow Tenet’s viewpoint hook, line, and sinker.
    What with all the conflicting views about what happened and who said what, I smell a few PhD.s in figuring out what actually did happen. But it will take about 100 years for everything to be declassified, so we are going to have to go forward with imperfect knowledge.

  3. Ledeen is a well-known advocate of “freeing” Iran from the Mullahs. In fact, if it were up to him, the U.S. would be toppling regimes all over the Middle East. Tenet’s interpretation of what happened in Italy is more likely to be accurate, based on Ledeen’s own writings prior, then Ledeen’s rather odd response today. Odd because he gives almost no supporting evidence to prove Tenet wrong. Even more oddly, he points to Ed as a source, when (a) Ed was just quoting other published sources, and (b) Ed’s not an authority.
    So Ledeen spends his entire career inventing an expertise in a field that he has no academic credentials in; ardently and vociferously promotes U.S. aggression in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and then he whines when he’s caught doing exactly what he said he wants done, and points to a blogger and a fellow AEI scholar for support?
    What a joke.

  4. Odd because he gives almost no supporting evidence to prove Tenet wrong.
    Interestingly, Ledeen was there, while neither George Tenet nor Jeffrey Carr were.

  5. In the MSM/dhimmie world view, all that matters is Tenet has made accusations. Since they are against this President, they must be true.

  6. and then he whines when he’s caught doing exactly what he said he wants done
    Which you assume must be true because (1) Tenet says so and (2) you would prefer it be true.
    Because obviously the only thing Ledeen would ever go out of his way to pursue is regime change in a Middle Eastern country. People killing American soldiers? Why should he care, he’s a neocon.
    There’s a joke in this thread, all right, but it isn’t Ledeen.

  7. Jeffery:
    It is true that Ledeen is a dreaded neocon and Jew to boot but if you read what he has written you will find out that he is not an advocate of US military action against Iran. He wants the US to support the dissidents and perhaps arm those individuals who wish to fight the regime with something other then words. He has said many times that US military action would undercut the opposition.

  8. McGeehee said:
    “Interestingly, Ledeen was there, while neither George Tenet nor Jeffrey Carr were.”
    I have become convinced that George Tenet and Jefrrey Carr are in fact Siamese Twins separated at birth. Either that or Jeffrey is Tenet’s brother-in-law.

  9. Tenet’s factually tenuous book is slowly but surely being fisked and shredded by the blogosphere before it has even had the chance to reach bookstores.
    Apparently our former Director of Central “Intelligence” failed to foresee that as well.

  10. Come to think of it, since when does the CIA ever have to be right?
    For instance; there’s no way George Tenet got to be #1 at the “Fruitcake Company” … without George Herbert Walker Bush ‘spritzing Holy Water. And, making blessings.”
    Did Tenet have bombshell information, that Bush hoped he wouldn’t disgorge? YOU BET! That’s why this president draped the Medal of Freedom around his neck.
    But you also see a lot of guys who were pulled from the bench. Cheney may still be veep. But Condi is #2. Yes, Cheney is an ideolog. But Condi does it even better. In skirts.
    All the neo-cons are gone. Not just Tenet. And, Libby’s been fed to the press. (For no reason.) While AG Gonzales got defended; while he looked like a thorough boob.
    I repeat this, only because it sets the stage for the current DC environment.
    Ah. And, I’m no longer fooled by the Ma and Pa Kettle “act.” I know enough about Bill Clinton, to know everything “tried” was first “investigated.”
    You could laugh at approaching politics with “group analysis of positions, first.” But I don’t laugh at what works. You just can’t bring things to market, hoping for the best. Instead? YOU TAKE FEEDBACK.
    And, it dawned on me to COUNT. Right off the bat I noticed that the donks were leading the charge against I-R-A-K. (where plenty of Bush Men fell on their swords, already. Or, you don’t see the parade. Not just of Tenet, OUT. But Chalabi, whom the Iraqis didn’t buy, either.) Plenty of coming and going, after Paul Bremer’s “bad year!”
    So, that has something to do with the “dish” available to Tenet.
    Yes, he wanted a bombshell. SO he made it up! That encounter in the Oval Office; where Richard Perle seems to brag that the 10-month-old Iraqi war-plans baby, is gonna come out and see the light. On September 12th.
    Sorry. Our airports were in lock down. And, Perle couldn’t get a flight out of france. Till September 15th.
    Well? Lots of Americans don’t read books. But they go to the movies. And, movies are notorious with “changing the data” to make dramatic points.
    After receiving the Medal of Freedom, Tenet began toying away at a book. But lacked the timing of where to put it. TILL NOW.
    Tenet’s probably got more wind to his back, these days. And, it seems, from his own claim, that the Medal of Freedom didn’t help the blame tossing from Cheney. Where “slam dunk” took on a life of its own.
    Tenet says “nobody went to war on his comment!”
    There, that his whole book. In synopsis.
    Even though Tenet was up and over his eyeballs in training Chalabi’s goons. Chalabi still couldn’t take over I-R-A-K.
    Up ahead? Where do the billions come from, that’s providing all the terrorists with explosives; and trucks to put them in? Each one costs $100,000. Not your average expense. Or drug dealers would be using them.
    Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a trucker, driving into a pile-on, collapses an overpass. And, you’ve got havoc. No need to put in even one suicide bomber! Given the nature of accidents, happening on their own. Ya know?
    But have we even made one dent in the terrorists ability to recruit exploding idiots? Heck, even hollywood couldn’t sell this to young men; telling them they get the pretty girls, AFTER THEY ARE DEAD.
    What’s with the muzzies?
    And, how will we deal with this very real threat?
    It seems the ones in france don’t mind going out on nightly barbecuing of cars, ya know? Can you imagine, in the USA, yoots with gas cans getting all that far?
    We’re different, in so many ways, that most of the folks on earth.
    But we went into I-R-A-K. And, if you care to read Tenet, he will tell you nothing worked after Tommy Franks went home.
    Well? Isn’t it like getting angry at the gypsy who tea-leaf reads? What set of plans, when they meet battlefield conditions, don’t just go up in chaotic flames?
    While in Israel? The Winograd report is out. Seems like the only thing left unsaid, is that there are insiders who want Olmert pulled from office. So far? The Israelis haven’t green lighted this.
    But James Baker is slapping his lips in anticipation.
    I’ll leave the future to the Man Upstairs. I have no idea what’s gonna happen next. Neither do you.
    But freedom does give us lots of information. Best sorted through. And, also best to understand what would have provoked Tenet to go this far? He’s rebuilding his career? (Well, he thinks so. He said his career was shattered by Dubya.) Go figa? Something I hardly knew.

  11. Yet I bet the MSM will swallow Tenet’s viewpoint hook, line, and sinker.
    Gee, why wouldn’t they? And why would that be a surprise, afterall they swallowed it all before after 911 and took everything Bush and the boys spewed out about Iraq. I usually don’t have a problem like the rest of the bushies on this blog do about the MSM but I agree that the MSM did not do their job when they took all the crapola out of the white house as golden. You guys always want it both ways with your MSM moanings and groanings.

  12. If Tenet was so upset in 2003, in the early months of the Iraq War, how many times did he attempt to resign in 2003, in protest? I don’t have his book, so I don’t know. Maybe he offered to resign…but nobody chained him to his desk either. If he felt so strongly, he should’ve left. I’d guess that Tenet didn’t leave in 2003 precisely because he DIDN’T know how the weapon search or the political process would turn out. Only after a year of searching for the WMD stockpiles, and an increasing security problem did Tenet decide that he didn’t want any more of his fingerprints on this. Taking blame is not what he signed up for.

  13. Disputing George Tenet

    Lots of buzz in the media today about the release of former CIA director George Tenet’s new book At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, which came out today.
    I noted yesterday that Michael F. Scheuer, head of the CIA’s bin Laden …

  14. Monkei said:
    ” I usually don’t have a problem like the rest of the bushies on this blog do about the MSM but I agree that the MSM did not do their job when they took all the crapola out of the white house as golden. ”
    Uhm, maybe that’s because all the “crapola” you accuse the White House of putting out was exactly the same crapola that the Clinton Administration put out in the late 1990s?
    Remember, recorded history did NOT begin when Dubyah took office in 2001. In 1998, Clinton pre-emptively bombed Iraq 2 days before the Impeachment vote, claiming they were a threat. He also claimed, and Gore and Jean-Claude Kerry both agreed with him at the time, that Iraq had WMDs. And when Clinton’s Justice Dept. indicted bin Laden in 1998, it said al Qaeda and Iraq DID have a working relationship.

  15. Aw, uncle George is just jumping on the blame the neo cons bandwagon. Which is FUNNY ’cause when you run into those folks they have no alternative except a doofuss grande realism type that is as surely incinerated as the nearly 3K innocents who made it to work on 911.
    For all the flak neo cons catch – their detractors cannot offer any alternative to it – only soundbites about ‘engagement ‘ and ‘dialouge’.
    Being a Straussian at heart, it’s tough to see any benefit in talking to regimes that threaten to destroy a democratic member of the UN, try to usurp Lebanon’s sovereignity, try to destabilize any democracies in their neighborhood, practice gender apartheid, honor killings, eschew a tolerant, egalitarian society with a free, uncensored press and open transparent elections, have the blood of American GI’s on their hands and open official meetings with the ever popular ‘Death to America’ chant.

  16. “Ledeen is a well known advocate of “freeing” Iran from the Mullahs.”
    Wow, now there’s a REALLY awful thing to nail a guy with. Obviously anything HE has to say isn’t worth listening to at all. Gad Zooks, the knave actually want’s to free somebody! How can we tolerate the existance of this scum in our midst? How could he even contemplate such blasphemy, and right out in public in the presence of decent people, too? This horrible “freeing” stuff has got to stop!
    And another lefty inadvertently lift’s his skirt and reveals the goods for all the world to see. They don’t value freedom for anyone in Iran and they most certainly don’t value it here either. Government by committees of the “Right” people are far more desirable than the nightmarish prospect of the great unwashed governing themselves. What a rube!

  17. good point Lew. Imagine that, advocating on behalf of freedom. I wonder what side that guy Jeffrey Carr was on during the cold war.

  18. Anybody who dislikes GWB’s policies is a socialist or leftist. Unless that person is a CONSERVATIVE who dislikes any of GWB’s policies. Then its all right. You righties have a weird playbook. So we overthrew a brutal dictator in Iraq so we could have basically have a failed state. What puppet government Iraq does have is a Shia dominated incompetent Parliment. The Shia would be happy to exterminate all Sunnis. Iran is tickled pink with this scenario because they can spread their influence inside Iraq. George Bush SR didn’t topple Saddam because he knew what hell would break loose in the region. Jr. wasn’t that smart, especially with Cheney telling him it would be a cakewalk, greeted as liberators. Deep down the neo-cons know what a blunder the invasion was. They just can’t admit the Democrats are right. The minions of the neo-cons can’t either. They just puff out their chests and scream “defeatocrats”. This makes them feel like warriors. Eventually our troops will leave and Iraq will be ruled by the group or groups with the biggest guns. Theres your choice neo-cons, permanent occupation or leave and let the Iraqis decide how they want to live. Its not our choice , its theirs.

  19. Tenet was a Clinton leftover that Bush allowed to stay. That was possibly the biggest mistake Bush made regarding the war in Iraq. Tenet was the director of the information that he fed to Bush in the run up to the war. Tenet failed the President & failed the American people. Only those blinded by partisan hatred are oblivious to these facts. Tenet fed Bush the same information he fed Clinton; the man is a complete failure.
    Iraq and Afghanistan will take at least a decade, probably more like a generation before the cycle of life has brought about a new generation of people that have been raised in a Democracy; a people that will help to change the ME forever. Much like Japan and many other nations throughout history.
    And yes CD; you are a defeatocrap as well as a cry baby. Get over yourself; most of us have.

  20. Sept. 16, 2001 – Richard Perle: “Even if we cannot prove to the standard that we enjoy in our own civil society they are involved, we do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama bin Laden.”
    It’s not Sept. 12th – But close enough I think –

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