Friday, May 04, 2007

George Tenet, A Man Without A Friend, II

When you manage to upset William F Buckley, Jr., Charles Krauthammer and Christopher Hitchens, a goodly portion of the intellectual firepower of the entire western world is arrayed against you.

To survive with any more than tatters of your argument you'll need to be very right or very lucky.

Poor George Tenet is obviously neither.

Krauthammer was among the kindest when he described the former Director of Central Intelligence painting himself "as a pathetic victim and scapegoat." Not exactly the image we have, or want to have, of any DCI.

Krauthammer does expose, perhaps unintentionally, a potential cause for the failure of so much of our intelligence in Iraq and elsewhere during Tenet's term. After all, why should we have (had) any confidence in a man who in Krauthammer's view creates tales to fulfill his own needs:

Tenet writes as if he assumes no one remembers anything.

Everyone has the right to renounce past views. But not to make up that past. It is beyond brazen to think that one can get away with inventing not ancient history but what everyone saw and read with their own eyes just a few years ago.
Christopher Hitchens' take on Tenet's book is less circumspect:
George Tenet's sniveling, self-justifying new book is a disgrace.
And Hitchens adds
So, the only really interesting question is why the president did not fire this vain and useless person on the very first day of the war.
But that's not entirely true, as Hitchens himself poses the most interesting question: Why weren't we able to penetrate al-Qaeda with one or more intelligence agents during the years it was becoming a recognizable threat? Particularly when to do so was not especially difficult, as John Walker Lindh proved in 2001. If an off-balance loner from cushy Marin County, California could make his way into al-Quaeda's inner circles, all the way to a meeting with bin Laden himself, in less than a year, isn't it reasonable to wonder what George Tenet's CIA was doing to not accomplish the same?

If Chris Hitchens' supplies the acid, Bill Buckley drives in the final nail with an industrial strength pile driver. Bill's opening
How did such a man, so vain, so emotional, so unreasoning, become head of the CIA?
Buckley goes on to describe the former DCI in terms particularly unsuitable for that role, as a melodramatist ruled by self-pity. Although as DCI Mr. Tenet met with the President of the United States in person every day, he apparently never took the opportunity to communicate to the President, neither Clinton nor Bush, his sense of crisis regarding al-Qaeda and his opinion that pre-emptive action was required in order to protect American lives. Says Tenet, "The United States government doesn't work that way."

Tell that to our dead, Mr. Tenet. They'll appreciate your sense of decorous priority.

Buckley closes his thoughts with an indictment of the management of our premier intelligence agency and the men who selected the man to run it:
The testimony reveals the CIA run by a man who cannot think straight, advising the national security adviser, who went on to make false allegations, and the vice president, who made more false allegations, and the president, who took ill-considered actions.
Good point, after all this is not John Edwards' hairdresser we're discussing. It is the Director of Central Intelligence. A man who, if he's wrong, could mistakenly drag us into war.

Shame on Bill Clinton for hiring such a weak and inept kiss-ass and shame on George Bush for keeping him on board.

Related Links:
Without a Friend

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