George Tenet’s CYA

Former CIA Director George Tenet, who presided over some of the biggest bungles in the history of American intelligence is trying to to hawk his memoirs before they end up on the remainder bin with the rest of the Washington tell-alls. In so doing, Mr. Tenet has invented a conversation with Richard Perle which could not have taken place and tries to argue that he wasn’t really responsible for the bad intelligence in Iraq — even though his own statements and history amply show otherwise.

Even former CIA agent Michael Scheuer doesn’t buy Tenets sudden mea culpa – and Scheuer is probably one of the most vocal critics of the “neocons” and the war.

Tenet should have been fired on September 12, 2001, and unfortunately his attempt to play to the anti-war side just further clouds the record of what really happen in the months leading up to the war in Iraq. Undoubtedly the only thing that Tenet wants to bring across is that nothing was really his fault — he was hoodwinked by those evil “neocons” like Richard Perle or Dick Cheney. However, Tenet’s faults run far deeper than that. In a time when a gathering storm was apparent, the CIA continue to be weak on human intelligence and far too timid in fighting terrorism. Had better choices been made in the 1990s when al-Qaeda was a growing threat, our world could have turned out quite different.

Tenet presided over a time when the CIA proved itself to be consistently wrong on a whole host of issues. While intelligence work is by nature inexact, nothing can excuse the stream of mistakes that were made by the CIA under Tenet’s watch. He can try to salvage his reputation with another supposed “tell-all” book, but the truth is what it is. Tenet failed to lead, and those failures had profound effects on this country. The fact that Bush didn’t fire him after September 11 is nearly inexcusable, and the fact that he didn’t do the honorable thing and resign demonstrates why Tenet was such a poor choice for that position in the first place.