The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, April 16, 2004

Tenet: fool or knave?

If you were scripting a TV satire show, and came up with the George Tenet Bush briefings malarkey, the top writer would say it was too unrealistic to be funny. (Plus, it isn't funny, of course. Really.)

I wonder whether we're in Rummygram territory. We know - from Ken Auletta amongst many others - the depth of the contempt in which the White House holds the media. (To be fair, we're not exactly media groupies round here, either...) The apparent friskiness to be devined in the questioning on Tuesday evening I'm inclined to put down as Dead Cat Bounce [1].

They are there to be stiffed. And what better time to stiff them than when the Adminstration is looking like Fred Karno's Army's awkward squad.

I cited before (November 23 2003) Marshal Foch's famous aphorism:
Pressé fortement sur ma droite, mon centre cède, impossible de me mouvoir, situation excellente, j'attaque.

So DCI Tenet goes in to the 9/11 Commission with his (literally) incredible tale [2]: he couldn't remember briefing the Prez between August 6 and Labour Day. Not in person; not even by phone.

Now, the President of the United States is just about the most in-touch guy in the world. There's the football, of course. And loads of other comms gear on Air Force One and what not. And he's surrounded by cellphones.

And yet, Tenet - yadda, yadda, yadda.

Then, the drip. Oops, there was a meeting in Crawford on August 17 and in the White House on August 31. And, it appears, Tenet
also met with the president at least six more times during the first eight days of September.

(Note that Tenet is still not admitting that he spoke on the phone to Bush at any time in August 2001. Which is just flat out ridiculous.)

Clearly, they're not trying. They glory in leaving loose ends that need no Hercules Poirot to discover.

Thus Bush & Co show their contempt for the media. And, while they're at it, their belief that voters are suckers. (Not to say they're far wrong there.)

The difference is that, whilst the media is used to the treatment, the voters might take umbrage at such blatant disrespect.

The least the Wizard of Oz can do is stay in his booth...

  1. The Press Corps nadir, at the March 6 2003 presser, allows plenty of bouncing room. As noted in my March 13 2003 piece, quoting the infamous exchange:
    KING: "Mr. President."

    BUSH: "We’ll be there in a minute. King, John King. This is a scripted..."

    Which is not to say there aren't any good guys plying their trade - WaPo's Dana Milbank generally seems unwilling to check his cojones at the door, for instance. But the press pack is never pack-ier than at 1600 Pennsylvania.

  2. Damn these transcripts without page and line numbers! Hutton may have been a whitewash, but at least you can trace the evidence he ignored! (I thought all these steno systems - like LiveNote - all produced copy like that to be found on the Hutton Inquiry site. The line numbers look dumb, but make life so much easier for the poor bastards who have to crunch the text.)

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