George Tenet's book about his years as CIA Director is getting a lot of attention. I haven't had a chance to get it yet but will this week. A few thoughts based on what I've heard thus far in interviews and print: he seems to reiterate much of what Richard Clarke said in his book several years ago. I don't necessarily see where he disagrees with Clarke. The fact there was no substantive discussion about whether to go to war is extremely disturbing.
If Tenet and others knew the intelligence wasn't there to support what Administration officials were telling the public they had an ethical and moral obligation to speak up. Lives were at stake. Many hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and many more destroyed as a result of their inaction, their failures to speak up. That cannot be pardoned.
A group of former CIA officers want him to donate proceeds of the book sales to those hurt by the war. This seems just. Tenet shouldn't be profiting from his failure to speak up when it was required. Tenet didn't even speak out after he left office when many were hoping he would. He hit the speaking tour and even appeared at nearby Kutztown University and neglected to say these things:
In the book, and during the sometimes combative interview, Tenet said there was never significant debate among President Bush's top advisers about the threat Iraq posed before the invasion. He wrote that the White House had no strategy for the post-invasion period and that senior CIA analysts had warned Bush and others in the administration that a chaotic postwar situation in Iraq would be exploited by al-Qaeda.
But Tenet did not say those things publicly at the time of his resignation, when Bush was running for reelection and championing progress in Iraq, and he remained publicly silent for three years, until he completed the book, which garnered a $4 million advance.
His $4 million book advance prevented him from speaking up earlier when it might have saved lives. He neglected to speak up at any time other than to enrich himself. It's hard to excuse his conduct.
Update: I found this fascinating article at Booman Tribune written by former intelligence officer Larry Johnson. Must reading folks.