SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
Take a second this morning to look at the Washington Post’s editorial page, and particularly to Richard N. Perle’s “How the CIA Failed America.” This may be the most profoundly dishonest op-ed that has ever run in the editorial pages of that publication (an honor as to which it surely faces stout competition). Perle fails to give a meaningful response to Tenet’s key accusation against him, that immediately after the events of 9/11, Perle was talking about going to war against Iraq. His entire response rests on Tenet’s mistake about the date of the exchange—September 12—a mistake that Tenet has already all but acknowledged. The record is full of Perle’s war-mongering against Iraq in this period, so that Tenet’s charge is hardly implausible—and Perle’s carefully worded denial is deceitful.
But the real plum of the piece is this:
George Tenet and, more important, our premier intelligence organization managed to find weapons of mass destruction that did not exist while failing to find links to terrorists that did—all while missing completely the rise of Islamist fundamentalism. We have made only a down payment on the price of that failure.
There certainly is plenty of blame to go around, but the record is now extremely clear: the CIA was raising continuous alarms about the threat from Islamist fundamentalism (specifically, Al Qaeda) throughout this period, whereas Perle and his colleagues (and the Defense Policy Board which he chaired) were highly dismissive of this as a threat and instead focused elsewhere. Indeed, Perle had been among those in 2001 who were busy portraying Iraq as the major Middle Eastern threat and China as the long-term geopolitical adversary. This is an aggressive effort to rewrite history.
It is unsurprising that Perle would pen such a piece. And it’s unsurprising that the Washington Post would publish it. But it’s extremely revealing of both and the relationship between them.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”