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The Truth About Tenet
James Jesus Angleton explains it all.


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Michael Ledeen

“Oh, come on! You expect me to believe that?”

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I was recently back at the ouija board with my old friend, the late James Jesus Angleton, once upon a time the head of CIA Counterintelligence. I had wanted to talk to him about the latest warnings from the interminable 9/11 Commission, a.k.a. The Monologue That Will Not Die, that we hadn’t done enough with homeland security. I knew his view of the commission was much like mine–namely that these guys need a day job. Or maybe a Caribbean cruise. Or maybe a proper spanking. But he didn’t want any of it, he was all worked up over Iran, and he had a wild theory about what was going on.

JJA: “Be logical for once, don’t always assume that the CIA is totally incompetent. You only hear about the bad things, the screw-ups, the accidents. No one’s going to tell you about the brilliant operations.”

ML: “All right, everybody knows that. But to suggest that somehow the CIA maneuvered the Iranian elections, and got Ahmadi Nezhad into the presidency, that’s just wacky.”

JJA: “Has anyone ever doubted CIA’s ability to manipulate the Iranian populace? How did the shah get to power in the first place?”

ML: “Yeah, but only the craziest Iranians think that CIA has accomplished anything there since the 1950s.”

JJA: “Good news. But some day this generation’s Archie Roosevelt will tell the inside story of how the CIA managed to recruit this guy from central casting, the perfect person to get the West to take the Iranian threat seriously, the perfect person to terrify undecided Iranians and get them ready to take desperate measures, into office.”

ML: “Is there any evidence at all?”

JJA: “You bet there is. There’s Tenet.”

ML: “Tenet’s gone, fired.”

JJA: “The hell you say. He left surrounded by glory and adulation. He got the damn medal, didn’t he? You think the president didn’t know what he was doing?”

ML: “What was he doing? I thought it was a disgrace.”

JJA: “He was giving the award in advance, because he knew he wouldn’t be able to praise Tenet afterwards, if the operation worked.”

ML: “So you think that Tenet…”

JJA: “Tenet pretended to leave. He had to. He and the president realized that the only way to generate public support for a vigorous campaign of regime change in Iran, was if everyone was totally frightened. But the mullahs were too smart to let that happen, they had all these sly reformers who pretended to be somehow ready to make a nice deal with us. You know, Rafsanjani, Khatami, all those smooth talkers with their clever slogans tailor made for Western intellectuals, “dialogue of civilizations,” etc. etc…”

ML: “And so, you’re saying, CIA spotted Ahmadi Nezhad, recruited him, and…”

JJA: “And ran him. And bought off enough mullahs to get him named president.”

ML: “And now?”

JJA: “And now they’re running him. That is, Tenet’s running him. That’s what Tenet is doing. Forget all that nonsense about writing a book. He’ll never write a book. He’s too busy sabotaging Iran.”

ML: “Let me try to follow this, please. Are you also saying that those guys that left when Goss came in are part of the scheme?”

JJA: “Well, obviously. I mean, a new guy comes in and the top two officers from the Operations Directorate just pack up and leave? Give me a break. It was all coordinated, all staged, the usual disinformation for a gullible public. And they went for it, didn’t they?”

ML: “Yes, it all made perfect sense. It was time to clean house and so Goss was brought in to do the dirty work.”

JJA: “Hahahahaha, you went for it too. Hahaha. The two most important guys in the building had their feelings hurt by that nasty old congressman, and they just couldn’t bear it, and they left. Let’s see, how many directors had they survived already? Four? Five? Six? I can’t count them all. But this one was just too much. And where did they go to work, did anyone notice that?”

ML: “Yeah, they went to work for Scowcroft.”

JJA: “Exactly, the buddy of George H. W. Bush, the former director of what?”

ML: “You’re turning into a conspiracy-theory nutcase.”

JJA: “What do you mean, turning into? What do you think counterintelligence is, anyway?”

I couldn’t stand it anymore. You’re of course free to believe whatever you want, I think it’s ridiculous. Even if it does somehow explain everything.

Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute



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