George Tenet’s Defense

Tenet_3We’re now six years past 9/11, and four years past the mis­sion being com­plete in Iraq (wink, wink). But the parade of books by ex-gov­ern­ment deci­sion-mak­ers con­tin­ues. First we had Richard Clarke’s Against All Ene­mies and The Price of Loy­al­ty writ­ten almost indi­rect­ly by for­mer Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Paul O’Neill. Now we get a new one, At the Cen­ter of the Storm, by George Tenet, the for­mer Direc­tor of the CIA.Though there is now a pal­pa­ble sense of fatigue in Amer­i­ca (even the polit­i­cal right has had it with our Iraq adven­ture), we appar­ent­ly still have enough ener­gy to make a best­seller out of anoth­er polit­i­cal tell-all book. Yes, we still want to read anoth­er recita­tion of well-known facts — that Tenet warned Con­di in 2001 about an immi­nent al-Qae­da threat but our Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor did lit­tle with that infor­ma­tion, or that the Bush cir­cle men­tal­ly signed off on invad­ing Iraq as soon as 9/12. Yes, we appar­ent­ly also want to hear Tenet exlain for the fourth or fifth time exact­ly what he meant in say­ing Iraq’s WMDs were “a slam dunk case.” (In an oth­er­wise com­plete­ly unin­ter­est­ing book review, Bob Wood­ward has a cou­ple worth­while com­ments on this bit.) And we strange­ly care enough to read through anoth­er mea cul­pa that isn’t real­ly a mea cul­pa after­all. (George Pack­er makes good points on this score in The New York­er.)If you want to com­mit time to read­ing this book, God bless you and feel free to buy it here. But if you would rather cut to the chase, you can lis­ten to Tenet’s recent inter­view on Fresh Air (iTunes), or alter­na­tive­ly watch his recent 60 Min­utes piece below. (The tele­vi­sion inter­view is divid­ed into four chunks. Here are the links to Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.)

PS One of our read­ers rec­om­mends Ter­ror Time­line, a book by Paul Thom­spon that gives you a year by year, day by day, minute by minute chron­i­cle of the road to 9/11.

The video is no longer avail­able on youtube, but it can be viewed here at the CBS web­site.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.