CIA TORPEDOES THE NSC
More soon ...
9. Until or unless the President steps in to provide leadership, the long-awaited showdown between the "neoconservatives" and the "pragmatists" will soon reach crisis proportionsâ¦this, due to CIA director George Tenet's extraordinary decision to name the President's staffers responsible for misleading, or false, pre-Iraq war intel, Administration sources confirm today.
-- and the war has just begun, intelligence community sources warn. The Iraq/Niger debacle is but one of "a whole series of stories which are ready to break", a source told us today, adding, "I've never seen such hostility and disdain as now being expressed between the White House and the CIA. Neverâ¦"
10. As we reported on July 17, Tenet's lengthy, closed Capitol Hill testimony "outed" not just NSC non-proliferation staffer Bob Joseph, but also Deputy National Security Advisor Steve Hadley, and, by implication, Condi Rice, and Vice President Cheney, if not Bush himself.
-- yesterday, Hadley performed a virtual repeat of Tenet's highly qualified "taking responsibility" pose by making it clear that if he has to take a fall, then Ms. Rice needs to explain why she didn't read the memos he gave her.
11. As one Administration source put it, privately, today: "Between Tenet and Hadley, Condi now has the choice of saying she's a fool, or a liarâ¦if not both. Bottom line is she failed to protect the Presidentâ¦look at all this lame stuff about him not being a 'fact checker'. It's just incredible."
-- even before last week, a source close to the White House told us, "the President now sees that he's exposed on the intel problems. And he now sees who's been manipulating him, and he's not happy about it. No president likes to be embarrassed, but this stuff goes to the heart of all the reservations, pre-9/11, about his intelligence, his attention span, and his interest in foreign affairs."
12. Three weeks ago, this source speculated that it would be "difficult" for Bush to fire the senior officials responsible, for obvious reasons, since they would include Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rice, at a minimum, and that Tenet seemingly had so ingratiated himself at the personal level, he could escape punishment.
-- today, while no one wanted to speculate about Rummy and Cheney, in the absence of new disclosures, disparate Administration sources confirm that it is "generally accepted" that Tenet will be fired from the CIA, if only because of what he started last week.
13. Where this gets really interesting is the apparent response of neoconservatives: just prior to Hadley's self-destruction yesterday, a source reported talk of trying to replace Tenet with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; replacing Wolfowitz with Hadley; and moving Bob Blackwill immediately up to Deputy NSC advisorâ¦even though Blackwill is not a neo-con.
-- parenthetically, sources explain that for neo-cons, Blackwill enjoys the considerable virtue of loathing, and being loathed by, the "leaders" of the pragmatists, Secretary of State Powell, and Deputy Secretary Armitage. State sources say Blackwill was "fired" as Ambassador to India, due to his management of the Embassy, and how he worked with Armitage in various India/Pakistan crises.