Monday, April 16, 2007

Tenet's Tell-All Is a Slam Dunk to Provoke Invasion's Architects

By Al Kamen

Monday, April 16, 2007; A15

The drums have begun sounding for the long-awaited book by former CIA director George Tenet, in which he gives his take on pre-9/11 days and on Saddam's huge cache of weapons of mass destruction.

And the drums are saying that Tenet is not going to get too many Christmas cards from Vice President Cheney's office after they read "At the Center of the Storm." Folks from down the river at the Pentagon, including former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz-- a guy who's already going through a rough patch -- and former defense undersecretary Douglas Feith, might also get some heartburn.

Former secretary of state Colin Powell comes out fine. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was President Bush's key adviser in engineering the Iraq invasion, doesn't come out so fine. Not fine at all.

The White House definitely won't be overjoyed, we're hearing. Tenet even takes some shots at himself and for the first time explains his astute assurance that "it's a slam-dunk case" when Bush asked him how solid the WMD evidence was.

Tenet has never really explained his views on that comment. The 500-page book -- or more likely his "60 Minutes" interview on April 29, the day before the book goes on sale -- will be the first time he goes over that.

Tenet, who ran the CIA from July 1997 to July 2004, did the first of two days of taping last week at Georgetown University, where he's teaching.

Gore Watch

Meanwhile, everyone who's watching Al Gore's waistline for clues as to whether he's running in '08 might want to pick up his book, "The Assault on Reason." Although it is tough on the Bush administration, it is a polemic about how the enemies of reason -- using fear and secrecy and blind faith and cronyism -- are doing a number on democracy in this country.

The book also talks about his own campaign and of the new, less reasonable rules of the political game. At times the book, due out May 21, has the feel of a "goodbye to all that" reminiscence, we're told. Well, keep an eye on the waistline just in case.

One Job at a Time for Rice

Meanwhile, Rice, still working the conservative-talk-show circuit, last week addressed the rumors that she would leave her job as secretary before the end of the Bush era to run for office and to make way for her deputy, John Negroponte, to take over the department.

Rice told host Michael Medved that "I understand American politics very badly. I've always said I'm much better at understanding international politics than American politics. I just know that I've got a job to do for the rest of this president's term. That's what I'm concentrating on. . . . I haven't thought much about it myself. I'm thinking more about these days how to get other people to hold elections that are free and fair around the world."

Pulling Strings for a Prosecutor-to-Be

Not that the Justice Department was pushing hard to get former Republican opposition researcher and Karl Rove aide Tim Griffin confirmed as U.S. attorney in Arkansas.

In the latest White House e-mail dump last week, we find Loop favorite Monica Goodling, former top aide to Attorney General (for now) Alberto R. Gonzales, sent this memo to her Justice Department colleagues the day before Gonzales was to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The White House political office contacted Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and "requested that he ask helpful questions to make clear that Tim Griffin is qualified to serve," Goodling wrote. "They requested that someone in our OLA [Office of Legislative Affairs] call the Senator's staff and make sure that we take advantage of the offer. Here are the talkers on Griffin, as well as a narrative that can be used by staff, and his resume. I think it would actually be helpful for all of the Rs to have. In any case, can you please touch base with the Sessions' folks. Thanks."

Meanwhile, Justice spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos was working on making sure William Moschella, the principal deputy assistant attorney general, was prepped for his House Judiciary subcommittee appearance on March 6. Scolinos e-mailed White House communications aide Catherine Martin and deputy press secretary Dana Perino that she had "just placed a call to the DAG [deputy attorney general Paul McNulty] to reiterate the point that Will needs to hit a homerun with this. He needs to be clear, strong and articulate with the details. I am concerned that the format of this dribbling out in questions may muddy things. The DAG said they are actively working with the members to tee the right questions up but I am a bit concerned on this same point and am pushing Will to be aware of this when he is up there."

The Ambassador of Rap

Rapper 50 Cent, in Angola for a show last month, agreed to the request of the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda that he stop by to help boost an AIDS awareness event.

We're told this notice went out to embassy staff:

"All embassy staff are invited to bring their children to the Embassy this Friday morning (tomorrow, March 23) at 9:30 a.m. for an event on HIV and AIDS awareness which American musician Fifty Cent will attend. Local Angolan artists will perform raps about AIDS awareness. The event is appropriate for children who are at least 11 years of age. Please arrive at the event promptly -- all Embassy staff should plan to attend."

There was an "enthusiastic young crowd," one source said. 50 Cent didn't rap but urged the kids to have sex "but to have safe sex." And he left, as his bouncers threw $100 bills to the crowd.

They are calling it "bling diplomacy."

Whose Side Are These Choppers On?

Wait till the Iraqi insurgents find out that the trouble-plagued V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor plane is heading over to take care of those dead-enders. The Marine Corps announcement says the airplane/chopper -- price tag $80 million each -- has "thousands of safe flight hours of testing and training" and is twice as fast as and much quieter than the helicopters it will replace.

In early testing, more than two dozen Marines were killed in crashes. But just to show how safe they are, the Marines took reporters on a test flight last week -- on Friday the 13th. Everyone got back.

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