Imagine the scenario: It's January 18, 2003. Congress has signed off on military action. Tens of thousands of troops are in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, waiting for marching orders. War fever is at a pitch, yet millions of Americans remain unconvinced. At an antiwar rally on the Washington Mall, the Rev. Jesse Jackson steps to the podium to address 200,000 marchers. "It does not stand to reason," he says as the crowd cheers, "to have an unfinished confrontation with Al Qaeda, ignore the Middle East, and fast-forward to Iraq." Then he introduces the next speaker, who is visibly angry and upset. "Now let's hear from someone who speaks from firsthand knowledge. Ladies and gentleman, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency."But perhaps the people who should resign are the Bush's and Cheney's of this world, not those who oppose them. A lot of people in very powerful positions have resigned over the past six years, and what have their resignations accomplished, except to open positions for Bush's team of intellectual dwarfs?
"The president and vice president--my bosses--are liars," says the CIA director, pointing toward the White House. "They say we must go to war to keep our country safe, but they have never held a serious debate, even among themselves, to discuss whether Iraq really poses a threat."
The major TV networks break into their Sunday afternoon sports broadcasts to air the speech.
"The Bush Administration doesn't care about weapons of mass destruction," Tenet continues. "They know that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. They're just using his face to sell you a war that dangerous ideologues like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have wanted for years. My fellow Americans, I will not stand by passively and watch our country wage an unjustifiable, unwinnable war that will kill thousands of innocent Americans and Iraqis. I hereby resign my position as CIA director."
I guess the danger in not resigning is that the Bush pyschos and their kin will come after you with character assassination plots, and you will be forced out in disgrace. But how bad is that, really? The truth will out, eventually, but only if enough people stand up for it.
Look at Wolfie and Gonzo, hanging in there, fighting teeth and nail, refusing to give an inch. A**holes, obviously! But to their demented supporters, these guys are heroes. Their fight draws attention to both sides of the struggle. Their words are still heard, even amplified by the public debate, and of course they still have (nominally, at least) access to all the resources their departments control.
Sure, Tenet could have resigned, joined Jesse Jackson on stage and then headed off to Crawford to camp out with Cindy Sheehan's peace moms. And all the Bushistas would have shaken their heads sadly and said, "Well, what a pity, he has just lost the plot, poor man."
Or he could have stood his ground at the CIA, ordered his staff to disobey the White House's calls for war, handed over all the CIA's incriminating evidence on forged intelligence to the press, and maybe received a Medal Of Honour when Bush and Cheney were impeached for High Crimes And Misdemeanors.
Same goes for Powell, obviously:
"I'm not reading this," Powell had shouted while preparing for his U.N. speech, written by then-Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby. He threw pages of the draft in the air. "This is bullshit!"If Powell had stood his ground, would Tenet have stood with him? Probably not. But as long as we are imagining alternative realities, and how things might have been, it's a nice dream.
Nonetheless, buckling under, Powell carried out his mission. Like a good soldier. Like a toady.