George Tenet “explains” the Downing Street Memo

From George Tenet’s new book, p. 310:

In the spring of 2005 some documents dating back to July 2002 were leaked to the British press. The documents, which came to be known as “the Downing Street Memo,” reported on a “perceptible shift” in the attitude in Washington, saying that military action was now seen as “inevitable.” One memo records “C,” the designation the Brits use for the head of the British Secret Secret Intelligence Service, as saying that “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

Sir Richard later told me that he had been misquoted. He reviewed the draft document, objecting to the word “fixed” in particular, and corrected it to reflect the truth of the matter. He said that upon returning to London in July of 2002, he expressed the view, based on his conversations, that the war in Iraq was going to happen. He believed that the momentum driving it was not really about WMD but rather about bigger issues, such as changing the politics of the Middle East.

Dearlove recalled that he had a polite but significant, disagreement with Scooter Libby, who was trying to convince him that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qa’ida. Dearlove’s strongly held view, based on his own service’s reporting, was that any contacts between the two had come to nothing and that there was no formal relationship. He believed that the crowd around the vice president was playing fast and loose with the evidence. In his view, it was never about “fixing” the intelligence itself but rather about the undisciplined manner in which the intelligence was being used.

It all makes sense now! Richard Dearlove was misquoted, and corrected it in the final draft. But the British government never released the final draft, because…well, it’s not clear, but I assume because they’re shy and rather than speaking up would prefer to have a massive, incredibly damning falsehood be entered into history for all eternity. Furthermore, the Bush administration would never ask about this and certainly would never press the British to declassify the exculpatory draft. They’re very shy too.

Finally, don’t ever believe that “playing fast and loose with the evidence” is the same thing as “fixing” intelligence. Those are two totally different things and you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking that.