It’s not often you get to see an old-school Washington reporter tear apart a political operative. Th’other night 60 Minutes did that, and even if they were stabbing the mammoth that was stuck in the tarpit, it was still something to see.
Tenet: There’s lots of technical data. And you put all this together and it’s not evidence in a court of law. Remember, when you write an estimate you — when you estimate you’re writing what you don’t know down. You might win a civil case you’re not going to win a criminal case. In terms of evidence.
60 Mins: We’re going to war. Tens of thousands of people are going to be killed. And you’re saying you have evidence to prove a civil case but not a criminal case?
Tenet: …This was very painful for us…
60: A conservative estimate of 100 to 500 tons [of chemical and biological agents]? I mean, how can you be so wrong?
Tenet: Scott, we’ve gone through this. It’s what we believed. It’s what we wrote.
60: Where do these numbers come from?
Tenet: From our National Intelligence Estimate. You don’t make this kind of stuff up.
60: Wait a minute. You did make this kind of stuff up.
Now Tenet will sell lots of books and will enjoy a long career in the reality-starved hallways of Georgetown University. The residents of Iraq, which didn’t have any chemical or biological weapons, will live with his mistake.
I agree with the woman who wrote to CNN today who said he should keep his medal of freedom and should be required to wear it every day.