Former Central Intelligence Agency head, George Tenet has been polluting the public airwaves offering a self-serving mea culpa for his failures over Nine-Eleven, and its aftermath. He should sit down and shut up, but that isn’t likely to happen. The disingenuous former super spy is promoting a book for which he is said to have received a four million dollar advance. Long after the fact, the book seeks to salvage Mr. Tenet’s damaged reputation. Mr. Tenet served both the Clinton and Bush Administration and is the longest serving CIA chief, after Allen Dulles.
What Tenet’s most ardent critics want to know, is why he wasn’t more forceful prior to Nine-Eleven in making the President understand that a major attack from al-Qaeda was eminent, as the intelligence suggested? Instead, he allowed the President to go on vacation. It is reminiscent of a scene in The Last King Of Scotland, where the Idi Amin character asked an advisor why he let him take a certain action. The advisor’s response was, “But I told you.” Amin responds by saying, “Yes, but you didn’t convince me!” Apparently Tenet didn’t convince Mr. Bush that the threat was real, because Mr. Bush proceeded to clear brush on his ranch. Compounding this was the fact that Mr. Tenet allowed the President to rush to war in Iraq, using faulty intelligence, that suggested Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction when his intel suggested just the opposite.
Tenet claims the infamous “slam dunk” statement he made to President Bush which gave Bush the impetus and ammunition needed to launch his pre-emptive strike against Iraq, was misinterpreted. Again, long after the fact, Tenet now says what he was referring to was the argument for war, not the evidence that provided the pretext for the war. When challenged by numerous talking heads as to how he could allow the President to proceed, without making it perfectly clear to him that there were no known weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Tenet responds by telling them they don’t understand how things work in Washington. Mr. Tenet asserts his job was only to present the intel, not to analyze it or suggest what Mr. Bush should do with it. He claims he followed protocol by first presenting what he had to a disinterested Condoleezza Rice, who was then, the President’s National Security Advisor. When questioned how he could meet with the President on a daily basis and not advise him that he, the President was on shaky ground, relative to his plans to strike Iraq, Tenet states that wasn’t his job.
Tenet clearly dropped the ball early on during Mr. Bush’s tenure and it’s too late for him to pick it up now. Few if any are buying his excuses. He was an ineffective agency head. When one of his covert CIA operatives, Valerie Plame was outed his should have been the loudest voice of protest. He was conspicuously quiet. As if further proof was needed of his incompetence, President Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Honor shortly before his departure from the CIA.