GEORGE TENET HAS RESIGNED: And about time.
UPDATE: Kathryn Jean Lopez has a glimpse of the future: “I can picture it all now. The Tenet press conference with Howard Dean’s group and MoveOn where he announces that Bush is a failed leader. The October surprise book where he blames everything wrong with intel on W., Condi & the Pentagon.”
That does seem to be the preferred path for the Bush Administration’s washouts. Of course, his most telling charge would be “Bush should have fired me on September 11th!” And that one may be a bit awkward. (Read this piece from 2002, too: “Someone remind me why George Tenet still has a job.”)
Reader Don Hoover emails: “I guess since Tenet was a Clinton apointee, he had to listen to Gore and resign. . . . Unfortunately, Tenet should have been fired 1/2001 and that’s what will be missed in this coverage.”
MORE: Mark Riebling has thoughts on Tenet’s strengths and weaknesses, and suggestions regarding a successor. (“Tenet had to leave, but our intelligence failures are not entirely his fault. . . . President Bush would do well to replace Tenet with someone who knows, and who has said publicly, that our whole philosophy of intelligence is naive.”)
And here’s a rare InstaPundit post praising Tenet for building up the Agency’s paramilitary capabilities, which turned out to be an excellent move. It’s on the intelligence side where Tenet hasn’t done as well.
STILL MORE: Reader Chuck Herrick has a darker take:
Here is what I’m injecting into my Ouija board … Tenet resigned because he has inside information that there will be at least one more horrible terror event on American soil before the election. My guess is Tenet has access to the intelligence to back this up and Tenet realizes that the next one is not preventable. The terrorists are going to get away with another one.
And, my guess is that Tenet, having had all the other terrorist events happen “on his watch” can’t handle one more. So, he’s going to flee the scene. How would you like to be his replacement? I would not. I think other terror incidents (on American soil) are preventable, but I also think that we as a culture don’t have the will to do what it will take to make this so. It will take at least the resignation of a guy like Tenet, but it will also take lots more. In that sense, there probably was nothing Tenet could do but to avoid being the guy at the helm when it happens.
Well, that’s encouraging.
It’s also possible — even though everyone, including me, is inclined to doubt it — that his stated reason of wanting to spend more time with his family is true. Consider, all you readers and bloggers, just how much paying close attention to this war has taken out of you. It has certainly taken a lot out of me. It can only be a thousand times worse for Tenet and those others at the center of things. After seven years, he may just have had enough. We always doubt such claims, because people who resign for other reasons always use them as smokescreens. But that doesn’t mean they’re not sometimes true.
MORE STILL: Here’s the text of Tenet’s goodbye speech.
Meanwhile, Michele Catalano rounds up various reasons offered for Tenet’s departure. And (via Michele) this roundup of blogospheric reactions, and this suggestion for a successor: “Why not appoint Howard Dean or Wes Clark, since they knew all along about 9/11 and that there ‘were’ no WMD?!?”
And more opinions are rounded up here.
EVEN MORE: Mickey Kaus:
My own completely uninformed hunch is that if there’s a hidden backstory it has more to do with the Plame investigation (where the CIA and the White House could well be at odds over enforcing the law against disclosure of agents’ identities) than the Chalabi business. (Update: Fred Kaplan seems to agree, and raises the other interesting possibility that Tenet was somehow playing footsie with Kerry.)