CIA Director George Tenet, who was appointed by President Clinton, says he bears responsibility for letting a statement about Iraq get into President Bush’s State of the Union address that the CIA couldn’t confirm. Tenet reportedly has testified that he never read the speech before the President gave it. The President had cited the British government as the source for information that Iraq sought uranium from Africa for its nuclear weapons program.
The British stand by the information, and former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who investigated the matter for the CIA, says he was told that Iraq tried to get uranium in 1999. But Wilson couldn’t confirm that a deal was completed.
This is a setback for the CIA’s image, which has been undergoing polishing by Hollywood liberals over the years that Tenet has been director. The latest Hollywood film produced with CIA cooperation is “The Recruit” starring Al Pacino as a CIA instructor who recruits young people by telling them that the CIA is on the side of good versus evil and that America has enemies “everywhere?all around us.” It focuses on The Farm, a place where CIA recruits are trained. The DVD version includes some additional material about the film, including an interview with veteran CIA officer Chase Brandon, who is the agency’s liaison with Hollywood. He collaborated with the writers of The Recruit.
But the interview features an amazing comment from Brandon that puts the CIA debacle over Iraq in some necessary perspective. Brandon has told reporters that he is trying to combat a false perception about the CIA, but he says on the DVD, in regard to the threat we face, “Who could have imagined that jet planes would fly into buildings. I think now anything can happen. And it argues that this agency and the men and women in it are more crucial than ever.”
Senator Chuck Grassley has noted that the CIA funded a 1999 study that warned that al Qaeda terrorists could crash planes into government buildings in the Washington area, including the Pentagon, CIA headquarters and the White House. The CIA and FBI had been getting specific early warnings about terrorist plots, including crashing planes into buildings, for years. The study declared, “Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaeda’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Ramzi Yousef had planned to do this against the CIA headquarters.” Yousef was one of the masterminds of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
Planes crashing into government buildings was part of Tom Clancy’s 1994 novel, Debt of Honor. In that book, the target was the Capitol building. The plot of Clancy’s 1991 novel, The Sum of All Fears, involves a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of Arab terrorists. But when the Hollywood film based on the book was released in 2002, just months after 9/11, the villains were changed. The Arab terrorists became European neo-Nazis. CIA officer Chase Brandon was an adviser on that film, too.