SAN FRANCISCO - The CIA warned the Bush White House seven months before the 2003 Iraq invasion that the United States could face a thicket of bad consequences, starting with "anarchy and the territorial breakup" of the country, former CIA Director George Tenet writes in a new book.
CIA analysts wrote the warning at the start of August 2002 and inserted it into a briefing book distributed at an early September meeting of President Bush's national security team at Camp David, he writes.
The agency analysis painted what Tenet calls additional "worst-case" scenarios: "a surge of global terrorism against U.S. interests fueled by deepening Islamic antipathy toward the United States"; "regime-threatening instability in key Arab states"; and "major oil supply disruptions and severe strains in the Atlantic alliance."
While the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have been widely criticized for being wrong about much of the prewar intelligence on Iraq, the analysis Tenet describes concerning postwar scenarios seems prescient. Iraq is buffeted by brutal sectarian violence, and there are suggestions that the country be partitioned into ethnic zones.
However, Tenet cautions against concluding that the CIA predicted many of the difficulties that followed. "Doing so would be disingenuous," because the agency saw them as possible scenarios, not certainties, he writes. "The truth is often more complex than convenient."
A copy of the book, At the Center of the Storm, was purchased by an Associated Press reporter yesterday at a retail outlet, ahead of its scheduled Monday release. Tenet served as CIA chief from 1997 to 2004.