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Matt Renner: Tenet Battled With Office of Special

Tenet Battled With the Office of Special Plans

By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report

Wednesday 02 May 2007

In his book, "At the Center of the Storm," former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet describes efforts by Pentagon and White House officials to subvert pre-Iraq war intelligence assessment by the CIA.

Tenet focuses on the actions of a group inside the Pentagon that sent the Bush administration bogus intelligence on Iraq's weapons program and ties to terrorist organizations that supported the administration's policy.

This group was recently criticized by a Department of Defense inspector general report from February 9, 2007, which found that a policy-shop known as "the Office of Special Plans," headed by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, acted "inappropriately" by cooking intelligence to reflect a "mature and symbiotic" relationship between Iraq and al-Qa'ida. This characterization was never supported by the CIA, but was presented as fact by Feith's office to White House policy makers in the run up to the Iraq war.

Former CIA intelligence officer Larry C. Johnson called the Office of Special Plans (OSP) "a hodgepodge put together by folks with an agenda." According to Johnson, "The administration started with a presumption of guilt, and the OSP was to hang the ornaments on the tree."

According to Tenet's book, when the bogus intelligence assessment was presented to Tenet in August, 2002, he told the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Vice Admiral Jake Jacoby, “This is entirely inappropriate. You get this back in intelligence channels. I want analysts talking to analysts, not people with agendas.” This instruction was not complied with. Instead, according to the Inspector General report, Feith fast-tracked the information and presented the findings to then Deputy National Security Director Steven Hadley and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney.

Tenet claims that he did not know that the briefings continued despite his direction to Jacoby. As head of the DIA, Jacoby had two bosses, Tenet and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Tenet points out this fact but does not explicitly say that Rumsfeld over-ruled his direction to Jacoby. The Inspector General report concluded that the “inappropriate” activities of Feith's office were authorized by Rumsfeld or his former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz.

The inspector general report points to officials inside the Department of Defense (DOD) who subverted the CIA's assessment of the relationship between Iraq and al-Qa'ida. A DIA critique of the CIA analysis said, "... the CIA report should be read for content only - and CIA's interpretation ought to be ignored." These comments were forwarded by Feith to both Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld.

According to Tenet, White House officials tried to prevent the CIA from publishing their own analysis of the relationship between Iraq and al-Qa'ida. A draft report of the CIA analysis of that relationship was sent to the White House in December 2002, resulting in "a series of calls from the White House" that asked the CIA to "revise or withdraw the paper." Tenet names the vice president's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley as two of the White House officials who made these calls. Tenet claims that a previous draft of this report was given to the DOD for their feedback. Tenet says that Feith's office responded saying it had objections, "but would make their views known through other channels."

Documents pointing to a close relationship between Iraq and al Qa'ida were discovered in Baghdad after the invasion. After analysis by the CIA and the Secret Service, the documents were proven to be forgeries. According to Tenet, even after being discredited, "These raw, unevaluated documents continued to show up in the hands of senior administration officials without having gone through normal intelligence channels."


Matt Renner is a reporter for Truthout.

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