Tenet: 'Slam dunk' referred to case against Saddam, not WMD

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WASHINGTON -- When CIA Director George Tenet uttered the now-infamous phrase "slam dunk" at a 2002 White House meeting, he says he was referring broadly to the case that could be made against Saddam Hussein -- not his alleged weapons of mass destruction.

"We can put a better case together for a public case. That's what I meant," Tenet said, explaining his remark for the first time in an interview to air Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes." Short excerpts were released Thursday.

The phrase "slam dunk" was associated with Tenet after it was leaked by a senior administration official to author and journalist Bob Woodward.

According to Woodward's book "Plan of Attack," Bush turned to Tenet during the meeting and asked if the information he had just presented on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was the best Tenet had.

"It's a slam-dunk case," Tenet replied, according to Woodward.

Bush administration officials repeatedly used Tenet's "slam dunk" line to show that U.S. spy agencies had intelligence to support the main facet of the administration's argument for invading -- that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

In the "60 Minutes" interview, Tenet said the administration misrepresented his comment and used it to shift blame as the debate heated up about the legitimacy of the Iraq invasion.

Related Links

  • Ex-C.I.A. chief assails Bush, Cheney on Iraq (NYT preview, based on early copy of book)
  • Tenet on '60 Minutes' (CBS News teaser)

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