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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 8/17/11

Did Tenet Hide Key Info on 9/11?

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After the TV cameras at the 9/11 Commission hearing were shut off, Bill Harlow phoned the commission staff to say, Oops, sorry, Tenet misspoke. Even then, Harlow admitted only to Tenet's Aug. 17 visit to Crawford (and to the briefing on the 31st).

How do we know Tenet was again in Crawford, on Aug. 24? From a White House press release quoting President Bush to that effect -- information somehow completely missed by our vigilant Fawning Corporate Media.

Funny, too, how Tenet could have forgotten his first visit to Crawford on Aug. 17. In his memoir, At the Center of the Storm, Tenet waxes eloquent about the "president graciously driving me around the spread in his pickup and me trying to make small talk about the flora and the fauna." But the visit was not limited to small talk.

In his book Tenet writes: "A few weeks after the August 6 PDB was delivered, I followed it to Crawford to make sure the president stayed current on events." The Aug. 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief contained the article "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US." According to Ron Suskind's The One-Percent Doctrine, the president reacted by telling the CIA briefer, "All right, you've covered your ass now."

If, as Tenet says in his memoir, it was the Aug. 6, 2001 PDB that prompted his visit on Aug. 17, what might have brought him back on Aug. 24? I believe the answer can be found in court documents released at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the fledgling pilot in Minnesota interested in learning to steer a plane but indifferent as to how to land it.

Those documents show that on Aug. 23, 2001, Tenet was given an alarming briefing focusing on Moussaoui, titled "Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly." Tenet was told that Moussaoui was training to fly a 747 and, among other suspicion-arousing data, had paid for the training in cash.

It is an open question -- if a key one -- whether Tenet told Bush about the two hijackers, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, while keeping that key information from the person who most needed it -- White House counter-terrorist czar Richard Clarke. Clarke finds the only plausible explanation in his surmise that Tenet was personally responsible. Clarke says:

"For me to this day, it is inexplicable, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn't tell me, that the director of the counter-terrorism center didn't tell me, that the other 48 people inside CIA that knew about it never mentioned it to me or anyone in my staff in a period of over 12 months."
Enter Harlow  

But Tenet's aide-de-camp Bill Harlow has branded Clarke's statements "absurd and patently false." And the statement Harlow shepherded for Tenet, Black and Blee adds, "reckless and profoundly wrong ... baseless ... belied by the record ... unworthy of serious consideration."

And Harlow never lies? Right. I'm reminded of Harlow's reaction to Newsweek's publication on Feb. 24, 2003, of the intelligence information provided by Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, when he defected to Jordan in 1995. Kamel brought with him a treasure trove of documents and unique knowledge of Iraq's putative "weapons of mass destruction."

Most significantly, he told his U.S. debriefers there were no WMD in Iraq. He knew. He had been in charge of Iraq's chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs for almost a decade, and he ordered what weapons existed destroyed before the U.N. inspectors could discover them after the war in 1991. In his words:

"I ordered the destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons -- biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed."

He told the U.S. much more, and the information that could be checked out was confirmed. But Kamel's information didn't fit with the Bush administration's propaganda regarding its certainty that Iraq did have WMD stockpiles and was defying United Nations demands that the WMD be destroyed.

Those pushing the Iraq War juggernaut in early 2003 almost had a conniption when Newsweek acquired a transcript of Kamel's debriefing and published this potentially explosive story barely three weeks before the invasion.

Newsweek noted gingerly that this information "raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist." It was, in fact, the kind of impeccably sourced documentary evidence after which intelligence analysts and lawyers lust.

But this was not at all what Bush, Cheney, and -- by sycophantic extension -- Tenet wanted Newsweek readers, or the rest of us, to learn less than a month before the U.S./U.K. attack on Iraq ostensibly to find and destroy those non-existent weapons.

Bill Harlow to the rescue: he told the FCM in no uncertain terms that the Newsweek story was, "incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue." And the media cheerleaders for war breathed a sigh of relief, saying, Gosh, thanks for telling us, and then dropped the story like a hot potato.

By all indications, Harlow is still able to work his fraudulent magic on the FCM, which have virtually ignored this major Clarke v. Tenet story since it broke six days ago.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 
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