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.
I remember about 6 months/1 year into the war, when it was clear there was no WMDs and Tenant gave a big speech on why they weren’t found…
A very pro-war friend of mine was reading that speech to me in the car.
I found it remarkable not for what was said but what was NOT said, as there was plenty of information about how the process failed grossly that wasn’t in his speech.
EG, the almost complete amnesia about the results of the returned UN inspectors.
I found the entire thing one huge lie by omission. I wouldn’t trust this snake to collect intelligence on a preschooler, or to honestly report what he found.
Tenet gets in a long line of Bush lackey apologists. ‘I knew better, but what could I do’, rationalizers. From Powell, to O’Neil and now this medal winning shlub. They all should’ve stood up when it counted. Maybe like convicted felons we shouldn’t allow them to profit from the proceeds of the carnage they wrought.
It’s alarming that a man of Tenet’s character could have been in charge of the CIA — and by “character” I mean both the kind of guy Tenet is and how bad (or “loose”) a guy of that kind he is. Tenet reminds of a certain type of professionally moody, self-dramatizing athletic coach — akin to Bobby Knight or Tony LaRussa or any number of others — at once a blowhard and a cheerleader who is prone to bouts of anger, pouting, and self-pity when it helps him get his way. It seemed particularly revealing in the “60 Minutes” interview when Tenet emphasized his supposedly deep emotional involvement in his work and how personally angry 9/11 made him, adding at one point that he’s “Greek” and thus, the implication was, temperamentally given to powerful waves of emotion. I would say to that that whenever someone proclaims that he’s a very emotional guy, what he’s really saying is that he’s a person who tries to use strong displays of emotion — table-pounding, buddy-buddy-ism, moist sentiment, etc. — to get his way, especially when he suspects that he can’t do so on the merits of the case. How much of his own b.s. of this sort Tenet actually believes I don’t know, but either way, the thought that a man like this was where he was is alarming.
“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. ”
A legend in his own mind. Maureen Dowd “MODO” skewers “Slam” in her latest column.
Where Tenet is correct, however, is when he said that the Bush administration didn’t need him to say ‘slam dunk’ to want to invade Iraq. But that’s about it.
In everything else he is pitiful. But when he is denying the CIA tortured, he is either brazen or delusional. And he uses the Administrations standard weasel legalse: For an act to violate the torture statute, it must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.
Without delving into the obvious moral and practical dilemmas, let’s delve just into this argument: Equivalent in intensity to the pain? One cannot measure pain. So how will you determine what is equivalent? Is there a pain-o-metre? Maybe built by DARPA’s black works? Oh, nevermind. We’re the government. We don’t torture. Trust us.
It boils down to: When you’re not dead, or didn’t have an organ failure, it wasn’t torture. Everything else goes. No torture. You see, the pain-o-metre sais it is not equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. As for your fingernails, the hypodermic needles are sterile. No impairment of bodily functions through later infections, we know our job. And by the way sucker, you only think you’re drowning…. 😉
The initiators, Tenet, Bybee, Yoo, Gonzales — and of course Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld etc. who re-introduced torture and the confession principle and re-set the investigative process into medieval pre-enlightenment mode — now won’t have any of it.
You know, torture is, when the others do it.
Col.: I am convinced that Georgetown University is committed to ruining its academic reputation. I have had the change to meet two of its professors in person, Robert Gallucci and Anthony Lake. Lake was the more impressive of the two, but utterly unable to see the ME except through Zionist eyes. He bragged about how he converted to Judaism and he enjoyed going to Jewish Holiday functions. That’s fine, except the way he said it implied that practicing Judiaism was a step up from practicing Christianity. Strike one.
Gallucci is really unimpressive. He made a big deal of saying that America has a “moral” obligation to defend Israel. Since I’m a “realist,” that stuff is immediately off-putting. It is also reflective of Georgetown’s mediocrity: If the Dean of the School of Foreign Service thinks that America has a “moral” obligation to defend the only non-Arab state in the ME, but not the surrounding pro-American Arab states, it’s predictable that all these Georgetown-trained diplomats are losing the ME–and constantly surprised by our increasing unpopularity.
I thought he came off as a complete buffoon. I’ve watched other career intelligence people interviewed on TV over the years — some whom I’ve agreed with, some whom I abhor — but none of them EVER came off as a buffoon. They were serious. Deadly serious, you might say.
And I might not be the most insightful person when it comes to judging another’s veracity, but he was lying through his teeth. “We don’t torture.” Yeah, OK, George. Just because you’ve practiced looking someone straight in the eye and not blinking when you say it, doesn’t mean we can’t tell you’re lying.
A truly disgraceful performance.
(Operative word being “performance,” I guess.)
You’re right, Colonel. BOYCOTT THE BOOK.
I have a strong stomach, but after more than 40 minutes of Tenet last night, the very thought of devoting another hour or so to his book–that’s sickening.
P.S. It’s already #2 on Amazon.
Thank you, Colonel, for putting these observations so well. Every government needs paper shufflers – as functionaries, but it is not a job that teaches leadership, nor the deductive leap this is sometimes part of the intelligence synthesis.
“He must have been an awful child.”
We seem to be beset with failed children these days.
It is dispiriting that Georgetown will have two such on the faculty. Ignatius prayed for the ability to labor and not seek reward.
What got me was where, just before 9/11, he argued for attacking Afghanistan in order to forestall the potential (at that time) Al Qaeda attack. Wouldn’t a more effective defense have been to go intensely ON defense and shake the tree to disrupt such ONGOING terrorist operations? Bizarre! And his rationale for accepting the Medal of Freedom after getting corkscrewed by the Administration? Well, isn’t it lovely to think so.
I was considering attending the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in early 1962 when a quirk of fate directed me to the University of Hawaii through an East West Center grant – a wonderful experience then, and a great relief now as I see the names being associated with Georgetown University.
By the way, Tenet’s sick performance does not erase the indellible blotch left by Bush Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, and the host of yes-men who failed to speak up along the way to infamy.
Here’s an excellent article: “Ray McGovern: Sorry They’ve Been So Mean To You George.” It includes an open letter to Tenet by 5 intelligence professionals.
Colonel Lang, I can not dispute you estimation of the character and style of Director Tenet. Ok I won’t buy the book, I might steal it (and then put it back on the shelf so as not to drive up the numbers “sold”).
What is important, is this, we have another government official at or above a directorate level stating that the attack against US by AQ on 911 was falsely tied to the decision to go to war in Iraq, a decision that was made with little regard for the intelligence on the subject ,which was mixed at best. A decision that let OBL escape being captured and killed.
The “Downing Street Memo” documented communication between P.M. Tony Blair and President George W. Bush that the “intelligence was being fixed” around the policy decision to go to war in Iraq. That says it all.
Director Tenets revelation that Richard Pearle and others within the inner circle of the white house were using 911 as an excuse to go to war in Iraq was revealed previously by President Bush’s first Secretary of Treasury, Paul O Neil. In an interview several years ago O Neil stated that the very first cabinet level meetings at the beginning of the Bush 43 presidency were about deposing Saddam and finding an excuse to take military action in Iraq. The transcript of the interview tells all:
O Neil reveals that our government was already dividing up the oil bounty in plans discussed before 911. OK, if it was a strategic issue that the US had to have this oil, and it was proved and put out like that at least I could respect the honesty if not the thievery. But the fact is the Iraqi oil was… and is… going to be pumped and sold on the international oil market. The question is will it be Exxon-Mobil or Total-Fina or Zhougyan Petroleum or whom ever that gets the profits. And so really the people of our country were lied to so that our Men and Women in uniform could be USED to secure oil for particular corporations and for their wealth. And of course the war is a hell of a shot in the arm for the private contractors and mercenaries.
Tennet is without honor for failing to take a stand, but his story is important.
I am disgusted, ashamed and so sorry for the parents and children of our soldiers and all who have been killed and injured over this lie. Maybe we can catch the president lying about oral sex then the nation will be ok about impeachment. But killing half a million people, soldiers and civilians combined (with more to come) and driving the US treasury into insolvency…hey fuggetaboutit.
George joins the disreputable Pantheon of Beltway shameless sell-outs, cowards and bureaucratic villains who’ve cash in on their moral failings having earlier presided over the further unraveling of our national security. He is a glib scalawag in a $400 suit and a typical running dog claiming new found redemption. Now, with CNN’s release of the condemnation by half a dozen of his former close underlings, he and his puffery are totally discredited.
The old 1SG probably said it best: “Some people are like Slinkies . . . not really good for anything, but you still can’t help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.”
George Tennet, the “Alberto Gonzalez of the CIA.”
I think the only ex Bush official who will come off looking good in the eyes of history is Richard Clark. I may think he hyped the electronic side of things too much, but he was the only ex Bush official to speak out publically BEFORE the Iraq war became grossly unpopular and an obvious loss, and Bush’s popularity plunged to Nixonian levels.
Lurch doesn’t know how right he is when he mentions “Failed Children’ because something in childhood is thought to trigger Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This disease is now endemic in western government decison makers like Tenet, and it could be the end of us.
Sufferers of this condition are prepared to work very, very hard to get into positions where they can bask in reflected power. Unfortunately their condition blinds them to certain matters and leads to rotten decison making when given complete authority.
Read about the symptoms elsewhere on the net.
I have been reading a book on the interrogation of Nazi war criminals prior to the Nuremburg trials.
A psychiatrists summary of Goering was as follows: “Highly intelligent, witty, persuasive and charming (he even charmed his Russian interrogators – quite a feat). Grasping and ruthless in hunting down and destroying anyone who strayed into his imagined territory (administrative territory). It was however completely lost on Goering why he was being treated as a war criminal. When asked why he did nothing to save his friend Rohm, he didn’t understand the question, “but he was in the way” was all he said.
Goering was a narcissist, so is Tenet.
In Tenet’s case, I would believe he has spent his entire career “managing up” and sucking his way up the tree, ruthlessly destroying perceived competitors.
I would also believe that Tenet simply doesn’t see any form of interrogation as torture unless it spills blood because, like Goering, he has the classic narcissists total incapacity to empathise with ordinary people. To put it another way, its a “non question” – a person may have information, so extract it, any way you like. This attitude ultimately leads to inhuman, and wrong, decision making.
There is no way Tenet would advance a contrarian opinion to his boss unless he believed there was a personal advantage for him in doing so.
His performance (and book) is all about HIM. It’s not about decision making, justification, analysis, strategic conditions, etc. etc. its about HIM. Being unable to empathise, he has no regard whatsoever for the consequences of his actions, except as they affect HIM. 600,000 dead Iraqis, 3400 dead troops, so????
The Bush Administration is awash with these people, and so are the higher levels of many corporations
As michael savoca also points out, Paul O’Neil did do the honorable thing; i.e., he resigned and made the Bush administration’s machinations against Saddam and Iraq (prior to 9/11) known in his memoirs. He didn’t lay down for our Maximum Leader (and GW, too) like Powell did after he knew or strongly suspected the truth. O’Neil didn’t lay down with dogs long enough to get up with fleas. Good on ya, Paul.
I am sure in Tenet’s mind the CIA’s actions (in the secret prisons) isn’t “torture” if there is a possibility (however remote) that the information extracted could save lives.
ie – it isn’t torture, its simply getting information to save lives as quickly as possible.
No – Tenet needs to face the music – as do all ‘leaders’ responsible for this mess.
Tenet may come out of this better than any other cabinet secretary. But that’s like being in quicksand up to your armpits, when the other’s are in up to their necks.
He certainly did not fulfill the office of DCI. His job was to make sure that information gathering was sufficient, and that properly weighted, vetted intelligence be provided, and supported, to the President.
He was indifferent to quality. He did not prevent a parallel rogue information processing shop (WHIG) he set up and provide conflicting, superceding analysis. He did not support the analysis of his own agency. He did not battle with other Cabinet Secretaries, and insist that the considered advice of the intelligence community prevail.
He stood by when his job was to act. His job was to make sure that the best intelligence was given priority consideration. What he did was go along, and then he sat behing Powell at the UN. When Woodward quoted his ‘slam dunk’ he said nothing.
He should have been able to prevail in White House discussions. When that failed, and it became clear how poorly his personnel had been treated, and the danger imminent to the country, he should have resigned. And he should have issued a public statement warning the country of the error of invasion. But he did not.
He shares culpability for these and other errors with many others, and his is not the greatest of mistakes and misjudgments. But he must take full responisbility for what he did and did not do.
Tradecraft also seems to have suffered on his watch. How many CIA agents are now under indictment in Europe? How many governments will be embarrased for rendition flights, and the consequences of what happened on the ground? The CIA seems to have been less complicit in torture than other intelligence arms, but they are not innocents.
Tenet gave the administration a bit of cover, having been one of the rare holdovers from Clinton. I wonder what he had to promise to keep his job?
But Tenet now has a payday and a spiffy medal. They all seem happy enough to stick around for the cash. No matter who else has to suffer.
Tenet’s right about in-line with the other mediocrities of the Bush administration.
And let’s don’t let colin powell off the hook. Unindicted co-conspirator during Iran-Contra. 100% as responsible for the war and the lies as any of them.
We really have to look deep into our political system and ask why we get this quality of individual. It’s really quite shocking.
Ultimately, it has to be the heart of the political process.
So few people vote, the torturous rig of the Electoral College, absence of term limits…it’s all perfectly designed to allow a microscopic number of organizations to buy out the political process.
But it doesn’t change reality. And this is why the experience in Iraq and the Isreali experience in Lebanon are instructive.
As with Iran Contra, the run-up to the present Iraq was chiefly an exercise in disinformation aimed at the American people.
Hundreds of individuals in dozens of governments around the world had information kept from the Americans.
And the largest media organizations were totally willing co-conspirators. Judith Miller and the New York Times, particularly, played a poisonous role.
From an open letter Tenet, 29 April 2007 by several former intelligence professionals:
….”In the end you allowed suspect sources, like Curveball, to be used based on very limited reporting and evidence. Yet you were informed in no uncertain terms that Curveball was not reliable. You broke with CIA standard practice and insisted on voluminous evidence to refute this reporting rather than treat the information as suspect. You helped set the bar very low for reporting that supported favored White House positions, while raising the bar astronomically high when it came to raw intelligence that did not support the case for war being hawked by the president and vice president.
….”Mr. Tenet, as head of the intelligence community, you failed to use your position of power and influence to protect the intelligence process and, more importantly, the country.”
Full text at:
A refresher on Curveball:
Although there is nothing new in political operatives compromising the insitutional integrity of our intelligence community, Pentagon, and State Department, this time the result is catastrophic. And George reportedly gets a cool $4 million from the publisher. Of course, Wolfie got the World Bank slot and Feith was already a millionaire from weapons deals for Israel and others in the 1980s, some say….
And how much will Kinky Condi and all the others rake in??? And how about that Mr. Shock and Awe and the DC Madam:
“… Palfrey already has named her first name, as it were, on her website, where she has posted a court document from April 12 in which she alleges formal US naval commander Harlan Ullman was a “regular customer” whom she needs to subpoena.
With James Wade, Ullman developed the military doctrine of “shock and awe” used by US government in its invasion of Iraq…”
Don’t damn the symptoms (Tenet), cut out the cancer (Bush).
I recall when Georgetown had faculty of the character of Jan Karski. Now, Hoya Lutum.
As I recall, O’Neil didn’t speak out until his book was published in 2004. He chose to hold his challenges until nearly a year after the war started. Men were needed to stand up prior to the war. Not a year later when it’s time to publish pocket-lining memoirs.
The Goering comparison is unfair to Tenet as well as inaccurate.
Goering was not merely a skilled charmer but a cold-blooded killer whose ruthlessness Hitler hmself found time to admire. Let’s be clear, Goering literally signed off on the Holocaust(!). That’s not an everyday historical event by any standard.
Tenet was a small man, a shallow glad-hander and a second-rater to be sure but let’s not exaggerate matters.
How can our key government leaders be so devoid of ethics or courage? Is something in the water in Washington?
OK Clifford I bite. Why is Condileezza “kinky?” Is it the boots and short dresses?
The irrepressible W. Jumblatt before he made nice called her “the chocolate princess” and “‘oil’ colored.”
The post below asks the question I have, namely, why would the Bush Admin, which is all about loyalty and insularity, keep on Clinton’s DCI unless Cheney, et. al. KNEW he wouldn’t be a bump in the road to their march to war? In fact, isn’t it possible they kept him on KNOWING he was weak and inept, easily steam-rolled, and the perfect patsy if things went south? There is a reason they kept him, and it’s not because they thought he was the best man for the job, or that they didn’t believe they could have their own hand-picked man confirmed by the Republican senate.
I was not endorsing Jumblatt’s sexist remarks regarding Z rice. In fact i started a section on his wiki bio called “verbal intemperance.”
Wrapping up the Goering thread, he was quite a ruthless thug. Somewhere out there on the web is a trascript of him presiding as a judge of a Prussian court in a prosecution of a communist. It was a really a Kangaroo court. But, he was one of the few Nazi elite that had been a genuine war hero at a high level, a World War I ace.
Speaking of women in politics, it appears that the Israeli tall drink of water, Tsiopara “Tzipi” Livni has a high likelhood of becoming the next Israeli P.M. as the pressure mounts on Olmeret to resign now that the Winograd commission has given him his death warrant. His favorable rating is around 6%!
HG – you got it right. Imagine working for this lard. His taking any credit for OEF is a joke.
Will, my understanding from White House staff who have dealt directly with POTUS and Condi on national security issues is that: 1) she exercises very tight control over foreign policy issues coming before the Decider (she is The Explainer to The Decider, after all); 2. she regards herself to be always correct, infallible one might say; 3) her position has been so strong because POTUS has backed her; 4) her orientation is known to White House staff.
I remember her from the 1980s when she was a young staffer over at NSC, nothing special. It is interesting that she was Madeleine Albright’s father’s (Professor Joseph Koerbel/”Korbel”) student at U. Denver. On Korbel see, http://www.jhu.edu/~jhumag/0400web/15.html
See also, Michael Dobbs, Madeleine Albright. A Twentieth Century Odyssey (New York: Henry Holt, 1999), a revealing and significant book.
I think of Condi more as a political product of George Shultz’s influence (Stanford and business connections) rather than Scowcroft’s. But who knows?
Will and Zen, I agree that Tenet does not compare with Goering, except in one respect. My point is that both of them demonstrate the complete lack of ability to empathise with other human beings which is to me the defineing characteristic of a Narcissist.
Goering willingly turned himself in to American troops, he was puzzled why he was being held as a war criminal. He was puzzled when an American psychiatrist asked him why he did not try and save his friend Rohm from execution in the purging of the brown shirts. “But he was in the way” was what he said to the psychiatrist.
I submit that Tenet and others have this same total inability to empathise with normal humans – hence Goering signed off on the Holocaust, just as Tenet signed off on duff intelligence – without any compunction whatsoever.
New light on the policy and players:
“and an inability to influence key figures in the US administration, led to anarchy in Iraq from which the country has not recovered, the British defence secretary during the invasion admits today.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Geoff Hoon reveals that Britain disagreed with the US administration over two key decisions in May 2003, two months after the invasion – to disband Iraq’s army and “de-Ba’athify” its civil service. Mr Hoon also said he and other senior ministers completely underestimated the role and influence of the vice-president, Dick Cheney…
“Sometimes Tony had made his point with the president, and I’d made my point with Don [Rumsfeld] and Jack [Straw] had made his point with Colin [Powell] and the decision actually came out of a completely different place. And you think: what did we miss? I think we missed Cheney.”
Of the summary dismissal of Iraq’s 350,000-strong army and police forces, Mr Hoon said the Americans were uncompomising: “We certainly argued against [the US]. I recall having discussions with Donald Rumsfeld, but I recognised that it was one of those judgment calls. I would have called it the other way. His argument was that the Iraqi army was so heavily politicised that we couldn’t be sure that we would not retain within it large elements of Saddam’s people.”
….Mr Hoon accepted that Britain had greatly underestimated the influence of the neo-con vice-president Mr Cheney and had lacked a comparable figure able to engage him regularly over the war….”
Hoon avoids the cooking of intelligence issue. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2070256,00.html
Seems as though the Neocons and Tenet are at odds about some details in his book:
Robert Scheer quotes Tenet’s book,
“Feith’s briefer, Tina Shelton, “started out by saying that there should be ‘no more debate’ on the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship. ‘It is an open-and-shut case,’ she said. ‘No further analysis is required.’ This statement instantly got my attention. I knew we had trouble on our hands.”
Neocons in their rag say:
“In order to suggest that Feith’s staff was utterly out of its depth, Tenet characterized the main briefer, Tina Shelton, as a “naval reservist.” In fact, she had been a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst for almost two decades. Tenet also claimed that Shelton said in her presentation of Iraq-al Qaeda contacts, “It is an open-and-shut case.” Shelton and Feith both deny she said that. One person who served in government with Shelton told THE WEEKLY STANDARD today he finds it “inconceivable” that Shelton, an experienced analyst, would have made such an unequivocal assertion.”
Considering there was no Prague meeting with Atta, etc., does anyone have a take on Tina Shelton from personal experience?
I vaguely remember her as a hyper-ambitious org person who seemed to be interested in one thing, advancement.
But, it has been a long time. pl
“I believed it”? Doesn’t his own NIE from the time suggest otherwise? Or at least that he ought to have had serious reservations?
“Considering there was no Prague meeting with Atta, etc., does anyone have a take on Tina Shelton from personal experience?”
I know Tina. This story is much more complicated than what is portrayed in the press. I cannot think of a senior analyst who would make this kind of sweeping judgement about “no more evidence” being required. In my 30 years of government and government-related service I’ve never seen an analyist make that kind of statement. Neither Tenet nor Feith’s accounts tell her side of the story. In her version, which I have no reason to doubt, her analytic product had nothing to do with Atta.