Conservatives appear to have correctly noted that George Tenet’s account of meeting Richard Perle at the White House the day after 9/11 was incorrect. Tenet has acknowledged the error, stating, “I may have gotten the days wrong, but I know I got the substance of that conversation correct.” Tenet says Perle told him, “Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.”
The controversy over Tenet’s recollection has helped refresh the record about what Richard Perle was advocating in the days after 9/11. As ThinkProgress noted earlier today, Perle signed a letter addressed to President Bush on 9/20/01 that stated the following:
[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
Today, CNN provided further evidence that Perle was pushing for an attack against Iraq shortly after 9/11. The network re-aired footage of Perle on CNN five days after 9/11 claiming that Saddam was linked to bin Laden. Perle said at the time:
Even if we cannot prove to the standard that we enjoy in our own civil society they are involved, we do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama bin Laden.
CNN: The day after 9/11 where President Bush and his conservative allies making connections to Saddam Hussein, former CIA Director George Tenet describes an encounter that stunned him, he says, on September 12, 2001. Tenet claims as he was going in to the White House early that morning, Richard Perle was leaving. In his new book, Tenet writes that Perle, a so-called neoconservative who headed a Pentagon advisory board at the time, turned to me and said, “Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.”
TENET: When I remember thinking to myself as I’m about to go in and brief the president, what the hell is he talking about?
CNN: Perle tells The Weekly Standard he was in France that day and denies ever saying that to Tenet. Tenet says his dates may be off but insists the exchange happened. Here’s what Perle did tell CNN five days after 9/11.
PERLE: Even if we cannot prove to the standard that we enjoy in our own civil society they are involved, we do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama bin Laden.