Former CIA director George Tenet will likely never live down having called the intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s WMD a “slam dunk.”
But former CIA deputy director Mike Morell, in his book, “The Great War of Our Time,” defends Tenet.
“When we wrote pieces for the president, the analysts wrote with authority on the [weapons of mass destruction] issue,” Morell writes. “This is why I personally never found fault with George Tenet’s alleged “slam dunk” comment.”
“The way the [intelligence] analysts talked and wrote about their judgments,” Morell adds, “would have led anyone to think it was a slam dunk— that is, that Saddam definitely had active WMD programs. No one ever said to me, [agency analyst Jami] Miscik, [ex-director John] McLaughlin, Tenet, [Condoleezza] Rice, or the president, ‘You know, there is a chance he might not have them.’ Such a statement would have gotten everyone’s attention,” Morell writes.
He also accuses then-Vice President Dick Cheney of pressuring agency analysts to find Iraq ties to al-Qaeda that didn’t exist. (Maybe that’s why they weren’t sitting together when last wrote about them riding in the first-class car on the Acela to New York.
[In the Loop: Cheney and Tenet, Like Strangers on a Train]
The book, written with former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow and out next week, is filled with fascinating nuggets — rebutting GOP claims on Benghazi, and faulting the agency for not anticipating the Arab Spring movement and worse, for magically thinking the movement would actually devastate al-Qaeda.
Morell, a 33-year CIA veteran, goes out of his way to praise “Roger,” the head of the agency’s counterterrorism center and the man in charge of hunting down bin Laden. (He’s the character called “the Wolf” in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.”)
Roger was, “as always, the smartest and most insightful person in the room,” Morell writes, and was the “hardest working and most dedicated officer with whom I have worked at the agency.” He added, “there is no better person to be protecting the country from al-Qaeda” and called “Roger” “the most talented operations officer with who I had ever worked.”
The book went to print before CIA Director John Brennan bounced “Roger” from his job in late March.
[CIA official who directed hunt for bin Laden is being removed from post.]