George Tenet's Book

There's been lots of criticism, and precious little praise, for George Tenet's book in the blogosphere. Start with Bill Kristol's refutation of Tenet's story about Richard Perle. Tenet writes of a remark Perle made to him at the White House on Sept. 12, 2001. The trouble is that Perle was in France at the time. Or read Michael Ledeen's stinging response to Tenet's criticism of him for meeting with Iranian sources in Rome.

But there's a larger point here than these apparent factual errors. Tenet's book is being pitched as evidence that we should not have taken military action in Iraq and that our decision to do so was based on a Big Lie. But in fact the book appears to support the proposition that Saddam Hussein's regime posed a grave threat and that it was cooperating with al Qaeda.

Grave threat. As Rich Lowry writes in National Review Online:

"Tenet writes that it was believed if Saddam had to produce his own fissile material, he might produce a nuclear weapon in the "2007 to 2009" period (in other words, right about now)."

Cooperating with al Qaeda. Thomas Joscelyn mines Tenet's book and finds plenty of evidence of cooperation between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda in Iraq. He notes that Tenet argues that Dick Cheney, Douglas Feith, and others overstated the closeness of Saddam and al Qaeda. But read the quotes from Tenet's book. Consider that he admits to considerable uncertainty about how close those ties were. What does prudence dictate here? That we assume there was no cooperative relationship until and unless it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt? Or that we conclude that there could be a relationship between a group that wants to inflict maximum damage on the United States and a regime that has produced and used weapons of mass destruction, has waged war against the United States, and has defied the international inspection regime? I think prudence requires you to reach the second conclusion.

The bottom line is here in Andrew McCarthy's piece in National Review Online.

If you want to say we shouldn't have gone to Iraq and should have anticipated the present chaos there, fair enough. But at least have the honesty to say you'd prefer the alternative: a Saddam Hussein, emboldened from having faced down the United States and its sanctions, loaded with money, arming with WMDs, and coddling jihadists.

Good News From Iraq

Follow the links in this Instapundit post for some good news from Iraq.

By Michael Barone