On Monday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Chris Cuomo grilled returning White House Press Secretary Tony Snow over the new book by George Tenet, the former director of the CIA. Citing Tenet’s criticisms of the White House’s pre-war activity, Cuomo asked this loaded question: "Is it time for the administration to come clean?"
The ABC anchor wondered if Bush was "out of touch" and asserted Tenet’s claims means "the administration was not straight with Americans, not about weapons of mass destruction, not about 9/11."
Additionally, Mr. Cuomo, who is both the son of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo (D) and the brother of that state’s current Democratic Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, also failed to ask Snow about Tenet’s claim that aggressive interrogation has been very important to fighting the war on terror.
After a recap of Tenet’s interview on "60 Minutes," Cuomo began the segment, which aired at 7:07am, by framing Tenet’s comments as proof that Bush has been dishonest with the American public:
Chris Cuomo: "The big headline, the new book by the former CIA chief, George Tenet. The message is clear from him, Tony. The administration was not straight with Americans, not about weapons of mass destruction, not about 9/11. He's unusually passionate. Let's take a listen from him last night on ‘60 Minutes.’"
'60 Minutes' clip of George Tenet: "We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period."
Snow: "Well, there it is from the former CIA. Chief. Is he right, Tony? Is it time for the administration to come clean?"
Snow responded by pointing out that the administration has repeated numerous times, including prior to the 2002 State of the Union, that Iraq wasn’t involved in 9/11. Cuomo, however, continued to hammer what he saw as White House dishonesty:
Cuomo: "The implication is that the administration went to war for reasons that wound up not being genuine according to Mr. Tenet. Now what we have is an atmosphere of pretty predominant distrust with the American people involved with respect to the war. As you know, over 60 percent of Americans believe that the administration's information about the war is not accurate. Over half want a timetable for troops being returned. And now you've got the President getting the war funding bill. They say he’s going to veto it. Is he out of touch, Tony?"
Snow: "Of course people want to be out of the war. On the other hand, do people want to adopt a strategy that is going to weaken the hands of the troops who are there? In other words, do you want to bind our forces by saying we’re going to give you have a timetable for withdrawal knowing that that strengthens the hands of the enemy, lets them wait us out, is something that the Iraqi people do not like, something that folks in the region say if you do that, we're not going to be able to trust the United States of America. In other words, something that is going to weaken our forces around the world and weaken American prestige and effectiveness around the world. If you frame it that way, I’d love to see the poll results. Why don’t you try that one in the next poll? Because, my guess is the American people are going to say no, that’s insane!"
The GMA anchor concluded the interview by questioning Mr. Snow on the subject of the so-called "D.C. madam." Cuomo noted that Randall Tobias, a top official at the State Department resigned after it became known that he used a D.C. based escort service. According to the ABC host, it’s somehow the responsibility of the White House to root out all other high profile names involved in the scandal:
Cuomo: "All right. So, on the topic of doing what's right, as you just mentioned, let's move to Brian Ross' report. Obviously, Randall Tobias is stepping down, the State Department official. But the word is there is a list of other people using escort services. Should the administration be hunting them down seeing how there’s an obvious policy against this? Should you be rooting them out and getting rid of them?"
Snow: "Well, how do you know that it's Republicans who are on that list?"
Cuomo: "Republican, Democrat, independent, Martian, shouldn't all of them be out?"
Snow: "Look, let’s just see how this thing plays out. I think you’re getting a little ahead of the story."
Cuomo: "All right. I don’t want to do that."
Finally, it should be noted what Cuomo didn’t ask about. In the "60 Minutes" interview, Tenet asserted that aggressive interrogation has been extremely effective:
In CBS' "60 Minutes" interview, Tenet said the program of questioning "high value" targets, a program that has been criticized for using sleep deprivation and water boarding among other techniques, was more valuable to the security of the United States than all the work done at the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency, which tracks foreign electronic communications.
This is a subject, however, that apparently didn’t interest Chris Cuomo.