Sunday, May 13, 2007

Thomas Barnett Hates Condi Rice

He writes, apropos of George Tenet's book:

While I don’t much care for tell-alls from people who didn’t do all when in office … (Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog): Where Tenet’s book is worth reading is exactly on everything except “slam dunk,” like the fact that no one every seemed to seriously discuss or argue through what comes after capturing and/or killing Saddam. And that Bremer kept the CIA in the dark on both disbanding the army and de-Baathing the government. Or that Rice basically abdicated her honest broker role in the NSC, a point nobody bothered to raise in her SECSTATE confirmation hearings (ah, but there’s so much to admire in her “grit and grace” that her stunning incompetency in her previous job need not have been examined. I mean, it’s not her fault the interagency process didn’t wo . . . wait a minute, it’s exactly her fault.). Or how “nobody wanted to give Bremer specific marching orders” and that “Rice felt she could not order changes.” Or how everyone fell in love with Chalabi and let him call way too many of the big shots by proxy.

The last bit provides a stunning example of Condi’s non-role:

“What the hell is going on with Chalabi?” the President asked me at a White House meeting that spring. “Is he working for you?” [Senior CIA officer] Rob Richer, who was with me at the meeting, piped up, “No, sir, I believe he is working for DOD.” All eyes shifted to Don Rumsfeld. “I’ll have to check what his status is,” Rumsfeld said. His Under Secretary for Intelligence, Steve Cambone, sat there mute. “I don’t think he ought to be working for us,” the President dryly observed.

A few weeks later the President again raised the issue. “What’s up with Chalabi?” he asked. Paul Wolfowitz said, “Chalabi has a relationship with DIA and is providing information that is saving American lives. CIA can confirm that.” The President turned to us. “I know of no such information, Mr. President,” Mr. Richer said. The President looked to Condi Rice and said, “I want Chalabi off the payroll.”

At a subsequent meeting, chaired by Rice, DIA confirmed that they were paying the [Iraqi National Congress] $350,000 a month for its services in Baghdad. We knew that the INC’s armed militia had seized tens of thousands of Saddam regime documents and was slowly doling them out to the U.S. government. Beyond that it was unclear to me what the Pentagon was getting for its money. Somehow the President’s direction to pull the plug on the arrangement continued to be ignored.

Paging Dr. Kissinger! Could Rice have been more of a doormat?

I don’t know what’s sadder: Bush having to figure this out on his own and then telling Rice to finally do something about it or Rice not being able to follow his direct order--or the American people having to wait for Tenet’s tell-all to find out.

Tenet was clearly, in the words of the Economist, a total “time server.”

Problem is, so is Rice.

Following Powell’s empty-suit performance prior, this has been the worst pair of SECSTATES in a row in my lifetime.

The cossacks work for the Czar, Tom.

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