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Please, Professor Tenet!

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This week, I received from military parents Maureen and Michael Hearn a copy of a letter they wrote to George Tenet, former Director of the CIA. Their issues with Tenet's counsel to President Bush, promoting the invasion of Iraq, are serious and personal. Stationed near Baghdad is their Army daughter.

Purportedly, prior to the war, Tenet told Bush that Saddam Hussein's WMD program was a "slam-dunk case." When Tenet resigned from the CIA in 2004, many analysts said his resignation was the result of a shakeup, one necessary to assign blame for intelligence failures not only in Iraq but preceding 9/11.

At the time, George Bush stated: "George Tenet did a superb job for America. It was a high honor to work with him and I'm sorry he left."

Subsequently, on December 14, 2004, the president awarded Tenet the Medal of Freedom, saying Tenet "was one of the first to recognize and address the threat to America from radical networks." Also, honored that day were Gen. Tommy Franks who led the Afghanistan and Iraq offensives and former Iraq administrator Paul "Jerry" Bremer, the top civilian U.S. official in postwar (?) Iraq.

Bush praised Franks, saying he "led the forces that fought and won two wars in the defense of the world's security and helped liberate more than 50 million people from two of the worst tyrannies in the world." The president also extolled Franks' war plan the use of "a force half the size of the force that won the Gulf War."

Bush, in lauding Bremer, said: "For 14 months Jerry Bremer worked day and night in difficult and dangerous conditions to stabilize the country, to help its people rebuild and to establish a political process that would lead to justice and liberty."

At this ceremony, Tenet and Franks beamed. Bremer wiped tears from his eyes.

Former CIA Director Tenet is now Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.

The Hearns' earnest and heartfelt correspondence to Tenet elicited neither a reply nor action. So, after reading an article about my participation in last Saturday's NYC Peace March, an event in which both participated, they sent it to me:

An Open Letter to George Tenet
Georgetown University

Dear Professor Tenet:

We are the proud parents of an Army daughter now courageously serving her country in Iraq. Our daughter is stationed west of Baghdad and is currently performing perilous convoy missions. In the increasingly violent setting of that troubled nation, the convoys are so dangerous that they can only be conducted at night. Our daughter's unit has recently sustained three casualties from roadside bombs. As we enter the fourth year of America's ill-conceived and mismanaged incursion into Iraq, with no end in sight, we are writing to remind you of your responsibility in bringing about our country's military offensive and to ask you to stand up publicly for bringing our troops home now.

Our incursion into Iraq was based on faulty intelligence and deliberate cherry-picking of material to make a case for an unnecessary pre-emptive war, unprecedented in America's history and erosive of our Constitution. Serious misgivings were apparent from the start, and this has been extremely troubling to us as the proud but anxious parents of a daughter in uniform. She is in harm's way every minute that she is in Iraq. Our nation has now sustained more than 2,300 troop deaths. The number of soldiers suffering permanent debilitating injuries has quietly risen into the tens of thousands. Each of these valorous troops has been an individual family member, citizen and friend, loyally answering our country's call. They have been America's children, siblings, parents and spouses. Tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens have been killed in an intractable analysis-defying situation that is a mix of insurgency, civil war, religious conflict and obdurate resistance to foreign military occupation. Current circumstances make it clear that a military strategy of "waiting for victory" is not appropriate. The time has long since come for broader political and diplomatic solutions. Our troops have already done far more than should ever have been expected of them.

We are mindful of your role in the American incursion into Iraq and hopeful that we may persuade you to help America change its course. Although there never were any weapons of mass destruction, and Iraq was neither an imminent terrorist threat to the United States nor a military menace, the invasion was justified by the "slam dunk" misinformation that you were responsible for.

We think it likely that you have a conscience, Professor Tenet. We love our daughter very dearly. Her life is precious, and our disquiet about America's endless military involvement in Iraq is not a theoretical one. You have more of a voice in Washington than we do, but we have more at stake than you do. Please help us.

We are asking you to take a courageous stand, even in the face of changing your prior position, a stand worthy of your Medal of Freedom. We are asking you to speak out for bringing our troops home now. We believe that to do so would represent the most trying of circumstances for you, but this may yet be the sacrifice that history and your conscience will require.

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Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
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