It seems to me that the most important question in the Plame Affair is the one nobody’s asking:
What does George Tenet want?
As the point man for what is quickly becoming (now that the DIA is involved) a war between the Bush Administration and the Intelligence Community, Tenet is the one controlling the pace and content of the IC counterattack, and he will be the one to call the end. There is more than enough material in his files–never mind the DIA’s, the DID’s, NI’s, and the NSA’s, to mention a few of his most likely allies–to keep the Bushies off-balance and on the defensive well into the campaign season. Hell, there’s probably enough there to sink Buish’s campaign altogether if it ever got out. The truth about 9/11 alone would end Junior’s candidacy and maybe get him impeached.
So: What does George Tenet want?
Clearly the unprecedented and callous outing of a serving covert op for no reason more compelling than pique must be avenged. To let it stand would destroy the morale of an agency that has only recently begun to feel pride in what it does, but worse, make the running of current and future agents extremely difficult. Once an undercover op is compromised by her own people, all others in the same position get very cautious, not just with their targets but with their handlers. There’s a lack of trust, and in intelligence there is nothing deadlier than not trusting your own people. Just ask those who lived through the insanity of the Angleton years.
So Tenet is fighting back. The request to the JD was the first shot. Since then, allies in the DIA have released damaging evidence that Bush favorite and Neocon Pinup Boy Ahmad Chalabi and his followers in the Iraqi National Congress were nothing but frauds, their information–the Niger deal that never was, the “death planes” of biochemical weapons aimed at America that turned out to be made of balsa wood and have a range shorter than your average glider, the immense bio-weapons “stockpile” that turned out to be a single vial of botulinus that had been sitting in a scientist’s refridgerator since 1993, and so on and so on–was in almost every case either totally bogus or a grain of truth pushed so far past the bonds of reality as to be more fantasy than fact. IOW, worthless.
What they have NOT yet said–but could, and it would be true, and the Bushies know it–is that the principal figures in the Admin were told all this almost as soon as Chalabi made himself available to them (which he did in lieu of going to prison in Jordan for fraud and embezzlement, his only other option at the time), by various intelligence agencies, including CIA and DIA, and that said Admin figures ignored it. In fact, they promoted little stock-swindling Ahmad to Freedom-Fighter Extraordinaire and gave him a lot of money to develop intelligence in Iraq because they didn’t trust the IC’s info, given that it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.
At a minimum, what the IC has up its sleeve is proof of the systematic rejection of IC information by key members of the Bush Team–Cheney in particular, but right up there with him were Wolfie, Rice, Perle, Libby, Woolsey, Rumsfeld, and of course, Georgie-boy–in critical areas like their persistent warnings of an attack by Al Qaeda in the weeks before 9/11 that the Bushies ignored, their accurate estimates of Hussein’s capability–or lack of it–to deliver on any of his threats that the Bushies likewise ignored, and so on. They could, and can, if they want to, pile it on until the Adminstration is getting tossed around by a feeding-frenzied press like a toy boat in a hurricane.
Before that happens, the Bushies will be waving some sort of white flag and making peace offerings of sacrificial lambs and whatnot.
So: What does George Tenet want?
Karl Rove’s head on a stick? Libby dragged naked through the streets of DC by a team of wild horses? Wilkinson and Eskew quartered like steers and sold for Big Mac’s? What level of payment will Tenet consider sufficient to cover his losses?
And the 2nd Big Question: Will Bush be willing to pay it?
I haven’t been this intrigued by a burgeoning national soap opera since Nixon dismissed that “3rd rate burglary” a tad more than 30 years ago. I can’t wait to see how the story turns out….