Someone wrote to me last night to describe the Tenet appearance on "60 Minutes" in that way. The "show" that he put on for the world was typical of the man. It was all about him. He whined. He blustered. He tried to shout down and bully the interviewer. He tried to portray himself as a wronged man, an intelligence professional who had been betrayed (along with his faithful "followers") by the politicians in the White House. What a joke!
-George Tenet never did a day of intelligence work in his life before he became "Director of Central Intelligence." He was not a collector of information. He was not an analyst of information. He was not anything in any intelligence organization. He was a career Senate staff aide, a bureaucratic politician. He worked for a long time for the "Senate Select Committee on Intelligence," the SSCI. By his mid 30s he was staff director there. He was then a Democrat and the Democratic Party controlled the Senate. In that capacity he was in charge of helping the senators exercise "oversight" of intelligence community budgets and moving "paper" around between the committee and the intelligence agencies. During the early years of the Clinton Administration he was at the White House doing much the same thing. Then he made the politically appointed jump to Langley. Now, he is (in his own mind) a figure from a Tom Clancy or John Le Carre novel.
-He insisted in the interview that he should not be blamed for having been completely wrong in the judgments that he inflicted on the world about Iraq. "I believed it," he whimpers as though that should "take care of" the whole thing. Wrong, George!! You were were in charge of "getting it right." You failed in the task that you had accepted. People have died by the thousands because of your failure. Countries have been wrecked. Tenet insisted in the interview that CIA has "not tortured" anyone. When pressed by the interviewer he said, "you are not listening to me, we do not torture people!" He still seems to think that he can bully people into accepting his definitions of words. He says it is not torture, so, therefore it is not. He must have been an awful child. The interviewer asked if he had seen any of these "none torturing" interviews. He responded in high dudgeon that he had not. "I am not a voyeur!" A voyeur of what, George? A voyeur of what?
I weary of the whole thing. Tenet is going to "feast" on the proceeds of his book. Surely no decent person will buy the book.
I hope Georgetown University is happy with having him set an example of public service for its students. He and Douglas Feith serve there together.
Tenet's "finest" moment in the interiew was in response to the interviewer's question as to why he had not simply told the president that he thought the "facts" backing up intelligence on Iraq were problematical. He implies in the interview that he did have some doubts. Tenet was seeing the president every single morning. Tenet replied that the president was not an "action officer." In other words Tenet claims that he, the chief intelligence official of the United States had to operate within the bureaucracy.
It's not like that, George. You know that.