HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

May 7, 2007
Harvard Square Observer

Virginia on My Mind - Again

Ernest Cassara


For a couple of news cycles, George Tenet’s new book on his experience as head of the CIA was chewed over, and, then, as usual, spit out.  I’ve heard nothing more about it.  That’s the thing about news cycles.  The news business goes gaga over Anna Nicole Smith’s death - if that was her name - and who was the father of her child.  If I appear uncertain of these details, it is because I had never heard of her until the uproar began over her death, and her progeny.

Tenet was being accused of saying that the invasion of Iraq would be a “slam dunk.”  I asked my Better Half if that was a Dutch term - maybe “slahm doonk” - that had been taken over into English.  She thought it might be an expression having to do with baseball, but, having been a baseball player as a youth, and, an enthusiastic Boston Braves fan, until they left town for the west - thus demonstrating to this disillusioned kid that baseball was nothing but a business - I knew that not to be true.  Her next suggestion was to look in my slang dictionary, and, by golly, there it was.  Apparently, a basketball player jumping up to the hoop and pushing the ball through is a “slam dunk.”  (Why they don’t raise those hoops, to make basketball a game that even medium height folks can play, is another matter.)

What I found interesting about the inevitable interviews with Tenet, in which he had been questioned on the “slam dunk” business, was that he, in effect, denied having said that the invasion of Iraq would be an s.d.

Furthermore, he indicated that intelligence was not perfect.  Well, that is when my memories of Virginia kicked in.  Over the twenty years we resided in the Old Dominion, on a number of occasions I had to drive to Vienna, and went on by the huge CIA complex at Langley, on my way across the water to Washington on the Chain Bridge Road, if I remember correctly.  Now, if all of the millions of dollars we taxpayers are coughing up, and all of those employees could not find out that Saddam Hussein did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction, I can only guess that they are spending too much time in coffee breaks or chattering too much of the time in groups around the water cooler.

By the way, since, when we moved to Virginia, we had a summer place in Maine with an  address of Paris, I thought it would be neat to find a place to live in the winter in Vienna, but, alas, to no avail.

And, as far as the criticism of him, George Tenet can say, if he is wise, “This, too, will pass.” 

It always does.


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