Former CIA Director George Tenet, in a book to be released next week, says that President George Bush wanted trial lawyers to help sell the Iraq war when the evidence for war wasn’t strong enough. This story comes from a passage buried deep within an article starting on the front page of today’s New York Times.
The Times focuses on Tenet’s discussion of how Vice President Dick Cheney was pushing hard for war, when other alternatives existed. Explaining his “slam dunk” comment that the administration has used to justify its rush to war, the article states:
Mr. Tenet says he decided to write the memoir in part because the infamous “slam dunk” episode had come to define his tenure at C.I.A.
He gives a detailed account of the episode, which occurred during an Oval Office meeting in December 2002 when the administration was preparing to make public its case for war against Iraq.
During the meeting, the deputy C.I.A. director, John McLaughlin, unveiled a draft of a proposed public presentation that left the group unimpressed. Mr. Tenet recalls that Mr. Bush suggested that they could “add punch” by bringing in lawyers trained to argue cases before a jury.
“I told the president that strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’ a phrase that was later taken completely out of context,” Mr. Tenet writes. “If I had simply said, ‘I’m sure we can do better,’ I wouldn‘t be writing this chapter — or maybe even this book.”
I find it a bit odd that Bush — well known for trashing trial lawyers every chance he has — would try to turn in that direction for support.
Tenet will be on 60 Minutes this Sunday pitching his book, and it will no doubt be a topic of some discussion all next week as it moves into circulation and gets reviewed.