06 May 2007

It's A Slamdunk

From Meet the Press with Tim Russert:
MR. RUSSERT: You open the book with these words: "Wednesday, September 12, 2001, dawned as the first full day of a world gone mad. As I walked beneath the awning that leads to the West Wing, [I] saw Richard Perle exiting the building just as I was about to enter. As the doors closed behind him, we made eye contact and nodded. I had just reached the door myself when Perle turned to me and said, `Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.' I looked back at Perle and thought: Who has [he] been meeting with in the White House so early in the morning on today of all days?"

Perle yesterday sent MEET THE PRESS this statement: "George Tenet tells his readers that on
September 12," "`today of all days' I told him that Iraq was responsible for the attack of" September 11. "This false claim is an obvious attempt to escape the responsibility for the intelligence failures of the agency he headed. But more important, it shows that even five years later he fails to understand that the decision to remove Saddam was based on the danger posed by Iraq, especially Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction--the certainty of which was repeated in every intelligence report and briefing I received from the CIA and other intelligence agencies. I was out of the country on" September 11,
"unable to return until September 15. When I did run into Mr. Tenet at the White House a week later, we had already concluded that al-Qaeda was responsible for" September 11. "I never made the remark Tenet attributes to me, or anything like it."

MR. TENET: We, we, we had not concluded that al-Qaeda was responsible for September 11. That conversation may have, may have occurred days later. It is the conversation that I--that, that occurred, and I stand by what happened that day.

MR. RUSSERT: He said those words to you.

MR. TENET: Yes, he did. And so for him to say that we had concluded that al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11, well, I'd like to know who made that conclusion.

MR. RUSSERT: When you say "yesterday" and "today of all days"?

MR. TENET: Well, Tim, I, I obviously--this is a jumbled, very difficult period of time. I may be off by a few days. What he said seems to be corroborated by what he said to another journalist. Mr. Novak has said he was called on September 17, and Mr. Perle said something like, "Well, aren't enough--there aren't enough targets in Afghanistan; let's go to Iraq.' And it's--it also is corroborative of the fact that he sent a letter to the president on September the 20 that mirrors those feelings. So I may have been off on the day, but I'm not off on what he said and what he believed.

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