June 10, 2002

MICHAEL BARONE says Bush has an internal management problem:

Clearly some middle- and high-level officials have taken it on themselves to set up roadblocks on the road to Baghdad. The question is whether Bush and his top appointees will tear them down. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seems to have the intellect and temperament to push aside false claims of military incapacity and overstretch (claims nicely debunked by the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon, no Iraq hawk). On the other hand, one wonders whether George Tenet or someone nearly as high in intelligence ranks is behind the attempts to discredit the Czech reports of the Atta-Ani meeting. Neither Tenet nor Secretary of State Colin Powell seems inclined to overrule CIA and State officials who are resisting, sometimes on nitpicking grounds, cooperation with the INC. And has FBI Director Robert Mueller taken a hard look at the agents who are so convinced that the anthrax attack came from a domestic source that they airily dismiss serious evidence of a foreign source?

In other words, the George W. Bush who has made it plain in his State of the Union speech and at West Point that we must go to war with Iraq needs to take control of his own administration.

Yes. But is that the real George W. Bush? There’s reason to doubt his ability or willingness to rein in underlings who sandbag him.

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