Thursday, February 05, 2004

Tenet defends intelligence community:
"We may have overestimated the progress Saddam was making" toward its nuclear acquisition program, George Tenet said.

But, he added, Saddam had the intent and capability to quickly convert dual-use facilities for chemical weapons and intended to develop biological weapons.

"Intelligence does not know if production took place and those weapons have not been found yet," he told an audience at Georgetown University.

Intelligence gathering is a difficult business and reliability is always an iffy proposition and I don't envy Tenet his job. But the more difficult task falls to the one who has to make life and death decisions based on intelligence he knows to be, at best, incomplete. President Bush deserves criticism for how the war was "sold" and possibly for how it's been managed. Tenet's speech strengthens the "Bush lied" argument because critics can say, "Intelligence was uncertain, but you told us it was a given that we'd find WMD, and operationally relevant weapons at that." I still think anyone who paid close attention at the time realized it was a much more nuanced and multi-faceted argument than that, but it's true that a faulty impression was given.

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