Today's Blogs

Tenet, Anyone?

Bloggers heap scorn on former CIA Director George Tenet for a report that says the agency knew more about the 9/11 plot than it previously disclosed. Also, nasty phone calls plague New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s father. And nobody reads anymore.

Tenet, anyone? The CIA’s inspector general’s office has released a redacted summary of a 2005 report that investigated the agency’s many failures before 9/11. The gist: Up to 60 agents knew two of the al-Qaida hijackers were in the United States before the attacks; the CIA’s communications skills with other security agencies were worse than we thought; and counterterrorism resources allocated to it in the mid-’90s were diverted toward espionage services. George Tenet is singled out by bloggers for censure.

“Despite Tenet’s claims that he had sounded the alarm on Osama bin Laden, the CIA hadn’t produced a comprehensive report focusing on bin Laden since 1993,” says conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters. “Osama and AQ conducted a number of attacks on American assets around the world over the next eight years prior to 9/11, and yet they never revisited their analysis of bin Laden after the first World Trade Center attack.”

Conservative “Allah” at Hot Air offers three interpretations of a Tenet-drafted 1998 memo that declared the United States to be “at war” with al-Qaida: “The upshot of this section of the report is that Tenet made a grand show of leading an effort that he called a ‘war,’ but did not lead as though it was actually a war. The best that one can say is that Tenet didn’t effectively manage an effort that he took seriously. The worst case understanding gets into malfeasance with government funds territory.” Fellow righty Kate O’Beirne at the National Review’s Corner agrees: “Even with a fair number of ’[redacteds],’ the [report’s executive] summary is eye-opening. It is very tough on Tenet who utterly failed to follow through on his December 1998 ‘We are at war’ pronouncement about the terrorist threat—no comprehensive strategic plan, no new resources, no additional personnel, no leadership on crippling inter-agency disputes.”

Uncle Jimbo at the military blog Black Five traces the CIA’s ineptitude back to the Clinton era: “It is a tale of a bureaucracy with no one at the helm, just sailing along spending money trying not to cause any trouble. That seems to be the over-arching mode for the Clinton foreign policy and intel team. The suits were busy sipping mint tea by the pool and promising we would never actually do anything mean and the spooks were buying all kinds of satellites and technology that unfortunately was unable to read the minds of Sadaam, Kim Jong Il or much of anyone for that matter.”

Read more about the CIA’s report.

Dirty tricks in the Big Apple: A threatening phone call to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s father has been traced to a line belonging to Robert J. Stone, a veteran Republican consultant who worked for Nixon and Reagan. Stone says a member of Team Spitzer must have entered his apartment (his building is owned by a fund-raiser for the governor) and made the call from there. What’s weirder: that excuse, or a GOP spinster who quotes Gore Vidal?

New York magazine’s The Daily Intelligencer eats it up: “Now we’re dealing with breaking-and-entering, a frame-up, and excessive use of foul language? And we thought there would be nothing to keep us occupied until Desperate Housewives started again.”

“Roger J. Stone’s life and career continues to be one of handling the worst of the dirty work for the Republican party, at the local, state and federal level,” Liberal “dweb8231” at Daily Kos concludes. “Despite being caught numerous times, he continues to elude serious sanctions by carefully hiding his tracks, drawing upon mysterious sources of funding and resources, relying on protection against investigation by powerful friends and allies, and flatly denying his involvement even when his fingerprints are ‘on the weapon’ and the blood is all over his nice white suit.”

Alex Balk at Gawker jumps on Stone’s speculation that his apartment may have been used by someone from the Spitzer camp: “Perhaps realizing that his excuse sounds sort of like a lot of totally crazy bullshit, Stone somehow remembers his whereabouts when the message was left: He tells the Sun that he was taking in a performance of Frost/Nixon, the play about our dirtiest trickster president (for whom, unsurprisingly, Stone once worked). Stone sees a vast conspiracy.”

Read more about Roger Stone and the Spitzer scandal.

Page spurners: According to a recent poll, one in four Americans read no books last year.

Marxist political philosopher Norm Geras at normblog is just trying to help: “[W]hat I can do here is offer advice to the guy who says, ‘I just get sleepy when I read.’ This is my advice. First, don’t read in bed before going to sleep if that is what happens to you; go to bed an hour earlier, wake up an hour earlier, and read for an hour before getting up. Second, if you sit down to read during the day, and feel sleepy, take a swift nap—15 to 20 minutes—and read when you wake up.”

Some bloggers are “sad” or “appalled,” but law prof Ann Althouse couldn’t care less: “[W]hy fuss over books? A lot of the books read are trash. (The linked article says the top picks were religion and popular fiction.) And plenty of serious reading doesn’t come in book form. Let’s take a look at some of these ‘avid’—that’s always the word, ‘avid,’ unless it’s ‘voracious’—book readers.”

Read more about nonreaders.