For four million dollars, I would have hoped George Tenet's book would have revealed something useful - to the war effort, to the restoration of confidence in the American political system, to the CIA, anything. Instead this "insider" writes his own ticket, making few revelations we couldn't have already read about in Ron Suskind's "The One Percent Doctrine". But this time we get a little George Tenet "flavor" as he raises his voice and rolls his eyes around on 60 Minutes. This time we get to hear his prattle first hand, and we are supposed to feel his pain as the fall guy the White House dumped blame for the Iraq War on.
But George came up lame, and the media should be ashamed for publishing his book, broadcasting his sob story and trying to paint him as a vital cog in the works when he should be seen as a "toadie", a "lickspittle" and like Colin Powell, another Yes man who dashed a distinguished career - he lacked the belly to tell Rove, Perle, Cheney and "the Prez" that you do not invade without evidence. He speaks of "judgment calls" - they all hoped they would find WMD somewhere later on down the road, making the mistake of rolling the dice with American lives.
Tenet's book reveals the ruthlessness of the war profiteers running this country and refusing to stop it after glaring failure, solely because of ego. Because it is now coming from a first hand source, I could see these same exchanges as testimony in impeachment hearings. Tenet's admissions were damning - Perle tried to force-fit Iraq into 9-11, Bush demanded more, more, more evidence that Iraq was going to attack us, though our best efforts had already revealed none. The White House scuttled anything that didn't fit their agenda, rushing the entire process through after wiretaps of U.N. officials in New York revealed there would be no Security Council resolution forthcoming. Tenet remains tight lipped about torture, rendition and illegal detainment, though awkwardly couches his fudgey denials by chronicling the "ticking time bomb" pressure he was under at the time. Hmm. Reading between the lines, perhaps he's fishing for an immunity deal, but would he offer a special prosecutor a slam dunk?
The American people acted swiftly when NBC and scores more media outlets broadcast the "multimedia manifesto" of the crazed murderer who shot up his school in Virginia. The American people acted swiftly to shame Fox and Regan Books into pulling the tasteless O.J. Simpson "If I Did It" book project. So too should we shun George Tenet's new book. A group of retired CIA officials have publicly called for Tenet to donate the millions he has received to families of killed U.S. troops.
Tenet didn't cry foul in the clutch - he hung around until his superiors had no more use for him. Only after they throw him under the bus he complains? To me, this clearly delineates the priorities of a man whose isn't ashamed of his principles, rather puts them on display in a publishing deal that can parachute him into his golden years.
Perhaps the most foul smelling aspect of this book deal was Tenet's expectation that documenting his mild protestations might make him seem more noble. Instead they only show how pitifully he was bowled over by the pitbulls calling for this war, how easily he was mesmerized by Cheney's bald-pated, lizard lipped urgings. Instead it only shows his betrayal of the hard work of the intelligence professionals under him who had it right all along. Tenet describes a frenzied agency in the wake of 9-11, recalling great pressure to produce as sabers rattled in all directions, with the White House deliberately setting them up to fail with 11th-hour document dumps and demand for intel that fit the facts around the script lobbyists had crafted. This is a piss poor excuse.
Then, trying to defend "Slam Dunk", he doesn't seem to realize that the actual explanation reveals a horrid betrayal of public trust. He wants us to know he didn't get it wrong, that he knew there was no WMD, he knew Curveball was a liar. He wasn't saying the case for war was a slam dunk, he was saying the agency can sell it to the American people that way - the CIA can turn into the PR wing for the White House. That was the slam dunk.I would have preferred it the other way - that he was stupid, not corrupt.
Tenet readily admits he didn't even read the infamous State of The Union speech in advance, he farmed it out to someone who didn't think the "16 words" were a problem - showing the underling to be either complicit or inept. Tenet then says he "takes responsibility" for blowing the chance to say something. But like Alberto Gonzales, "taking responsibility" doesn't seem to change anything - no resignation, no changes in policy, no apologies.
In Great Britain, officials resign in protest when their superiors start to cook the books and exploit the people. In George Tenet's America, you hang around for as long as you can and cash in for the big payday while the getting is good. Not because you had something to add when it counted, not because you put the brakes on the runaway train, not because you stood up for ethics, truth or honest public service at any point, but rather because you were there, at the center of the storm. Well,so was the furniture.
Want to let the media know what you think of rewarding Tenet with millions?
Ms. Tina Andredis
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street 8th Floor
New York City, New York 10022