George Tenet doesn’t call Dick Cheney a liar

… quite.

… Cheney cited a November article in the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, as “the best source of information” on cooperation between Saddam and al-Qaida.

The article was based on a leaked top-secret memorandum. It purportedly set out evidence, compiled by a special Pentagon intelligence cell, that Saddam was in league with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. It was written by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, the third-highest Pentagon official and a key proponent of the war.


“We did not clear the document,” [said] Tenet. “We did not agree with the way the data was characterized in that document.”

Tenet, who pointed out that the Pentagon, too, had disavowed the document, said he learned of the article Monday night, and he planned to speak with Cheney about the CIA’s view of the Feith document.

Ummm … I thought these guys were supposed to be against leaking top-secret documents. Or did I miss the memo announcing a change of policy? (Does announcing you’re against leaks of classified information while allowing senior officials to leak classified information for your political benefit count as a “flip-flop”?)

This is just another reminder that there are three kinds of classified documents: those that will, if revealed, harm the national security; those that will, if revealed, embarrass some high official; and those that are entirely bogus, designed to be leaked (with the “Top Secret” stamp to give them spurious credibility) for domestic political consumption.

Prepare for another round of slime-and-defend from the right wing, with Tenet and the CIA as the targets.

Just one question, fellas: If George Tenet is such a terrible Director of Central Intelligence, and if George W. Bush is such a great wartime President, then why hasn’t George W. Bush fired George Tenet?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: