Tenet’s book angers targets

The backlash has built up even before the official release of former CIA Director George Tenet’s memoir, with criticism about his version of the run-up to the Iraq war, interrogation techniques and other events.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday disputed Tenet’s claim that the Bush administration, before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, never had a serious debate about whether Iraq posed an imminent threat or whether to tighten existing sanctions.

“The president started a discussion practically on the day that he took power about how to enhance sanctions against Iraq,” she said. “You may remember that in his first press conference, he said the sanctions had become Swiss cheese.”

Rice, who was Bush’s national security adviser in his first term, said the administration reviewed the sanctions, went to the United Nations to strengthen them and tried to tighten the no-fly zone in northern Iraq to better police Saddam Hussein’s forces.

She also said the question about the imminence of the threat was not “if somebody is going to strike tomorrow.”

“It’s whether you believe you’re in a stronger position today to deal with the threat, or whether you’re going to be in a stronger position tomorrow,” she said. “And it was the president’s assessment that the situation in Iraq was getting worse.”

A Tenet associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the book’s release Monday, said Tenet was not talking about improving the sanctions, but rather the debate about the wisdom of going to war. The associate said those debates did not happen in the presence of Tenet or other senior CIA officials, despite their participation in numerous discussions in the White House’s situation room.

The memoir from the second-longest serving CIA chief covers many topics — from his attempts to help negotiate peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians during the Clinton administration, to the days surrounding Sept. 11, 2001, and to the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.

Looking ahead, he says, al-Qaida wants to change history and meet its top one goal of obtaining a nuclear device.

Tenet highlights the errors of others during his tenure from July 1997 to July 2004, such as the extraordinary efforts by Vice President Cheney and others to connect Iraq and al-Qaida.

Tenet also takes blame for other failures, such as the production of the botched National Intelligence Estimate in 2002 that was used to justify invading Iraq.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he does not accept assertions from Tenet that the U.S. government saved lives through some of the agency’s most aggressive interrogation techniques.

In an often defensive interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired Sunday, Tenet says the intelligence gained from suspected terrorists in the CIA’s covert detention program and its “enhanced interrogation techniques” was more valuable than all the other terrorism-related intelligence gathered by the FBI, the National Security Agency and his own agency.

Yet McCain said the U.S. cannot torture people and maintain its moral superiority in the world. “I don’t care what George Tenet says. I know what’s right. I know what’s morally right as far as America’s behavior,” the presidential candidate and former prisoner-of-war said Sunday.

McCain said he does not accept Tenet’s premise that the CIA’s practices save lives because torture and mistreatment historically have not worked in intelligence collection. “We’ve gotten a huge amount of misinformation as well as other information from these techniques,” McCain said.

Tenet and the CIA deny using torture. But McCain’s words suggest he believes the CIA’s practices amounted to torture and were wrong.

In his book, Tenet said McCain has engaged the country in an important moral debate “about who we are as people and what we should stand for, even when up against an enemy so full of hate they would murder thousands of our children without a thought.”

If elected officials believe certain interrogation actions put the country in a difficult moral position, they should be stopped, according to Tenet, once the Democratic staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Critics have started picking apart the book’s accuracy. In a dramatic preface, Tenet said he ran into former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle coming out of the White House on Sept. 12, 2001, and Perle told him Iraq had to pay for the attack. “They bear responsibility,” Tenet recalls Perle saying.

On Sunday, Perle categorically denied the exchange to the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and noted he was out of the country until Sept. 15. Tenet’s associate said the date may have been wrong, but the exchange took place.

Writing in Sunday’s Washington Post, the one-time head of Tenet’s Osama bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, said Tenet should have told his story sooner.

“At this late date, the Bush-bashing that Tenet’s book will inevitably stir up seems designed to rehabilitate Tenet in his first home, the Democratic Party. He seems to blame the war on everyone but Bush (who gave Tenet the Medal of Freedom) and former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell (who remains the Democrats’ ideal Republican),” Scheuer wrote.

A half-dozen former CIA officers — including counterterrorism experts Larry Johnson and Vince Cannistraro — are urging Tenet to dedicate a significant portion of his royalties to soldiers and families of those killed or wounded in Iraq.

“We agree that the war of choice in Iraq was ill-advised and wrong headed. But your lament that you are a victim in a process you helped direct is self-serving, misleading and, as head of the intelligence community, an admission of failed leadership,” they wrote.

Rice appeared on CNN’s “Late Edition,” ABC’s “This Week,” and “Face the Nation” on CBS. McCain was on “Fox News Sunday.”



Associated Press Writer Scott Lindlaw in San Francisco contributed to this report.


Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. Sandy Price

    and I can hardly wait to get into this book. If half of what the Bush Administration claims to be true and half of what Tenet claims to be true we might find something of value in the book.

  2. anthny

    Tenet did not go far enough, he knows more than he say’s. And he might still be working for the regime, the book might just be another way to throw them off the scent of the Elections Fraud case which will be the most damaging case againist the regime.
    The case for Impeachment has been on hold for a long time and the book could throw Bush under the Bus or the whole regime into the doc in Geneva…………

  3. Bill Jonke

    Rice, along with all the other “good ol’ boys and girls” are starting to worry about now. Too much protest. And we already know that Rice lies through her teeth, and she has a good space between them to let them fly out.

    Tenet’s book is destined to be a bestseller, similar in scope to “State of Denial” by Woodward.

    It may anger all of them, but there probably won’t be any slander lawsuits, because even if there’s a shred of truth to the thing, they could all dig themselves deeper and run the risk of totally being found out.

  4. TRUTH 101

    From all the reports no matter how fast FOX tries to debunk them, it is becoming clearer and clearer when you follow the “yellow brick road” That CHENEY is OZ BUSH is the one looking for a “brain the cowardly lion was Rumsfeld and the Tin Person is Rice.

    Is my memory failing or wasn’t RICE the first one to talk about “Mushrrom Clouds”. That HAD to come from CHENEY.

    I agree with all of you that if only half of what is written in the book is true it can kill this entire crowd. politically, morally which is the cloud in which the want to operate and possible legally.

    There is just enough time left to do impeachment and a trial can’t even begin until after Bush, Cheney and the rest leave office.

    But this Congress, expecting a VETO on May 1st wants to accept BUSH’s invitation to “talk it over” and come up with a solution he can live with. They are in charge actually and don’t want to be.

    What a sorry mess.

  5. mary cali


    I don’t know why Michael Scheuer thinks that the Democratic party is Tenet’s natural home. Tenet made it much too easy for Bush to trump up allegations against Saddam in order to go to war. Most Democrats do not look favorably on Tenet’s enabling during the run up to the war. I would say neither Tenet nor Powell have a “home” anywhere in the political realm after their roles in abetting the persuit of this worst strategic mistake in American history. I would like to see them both answer to the new congress, about what happened pre the invasion of Iraq.

    Tenet said on 60 miniutes that all the intelligence agencies, foreign and domestic, thought Saddam had WMD. I have read in several places that is not true. Foreign intelligence agencies were questioning US allegations as were some of our domestic intelligence agencies, particularly in regard to the aluminum tubes and nuclear capabilities.

    Tenet and Powell have alot of explaining to do. Neither should get a pass for their roles in this ongoing disaster.
    Something very unhealthy happened with our intelligence services that rendered them dysfunctional. We need to know
    the truth, not Tenet’s self-serving spin.

    As for buying the book, I will not do that. I may read it, but I will not contribute to Tenet’s retirement. His getting millions while thousands have died and continue to die because of his enabling just doesn’t seem right to me.

  6. Carl Nemo

    that in the weeks and months to come that many more people that were involved at highest levels of government during the planning stages of Iraqi Freedom come forward and finally “puke” their hearts and souls out concerning the evil, duplicit agenda hatched by the Bushistas to involve this nation in a war based on engineered, “cooked” intelligence via the Wolfowitz-Feith-Cheney rogue intelligence pipeline. I welcome Colin Powell, even Tenet because he knows far more than what he’s disclosed in his book, to hang these traitorous sob’s out to dry!

    Does anyone think of the great human sacrifice our people who made this great nation have made since 1776 to present, and have upheld, protected, and defended the Constitution of the United States and the Republic for which it stands. This is a sacred bond we have with everyone from the earliest pioneers that might have taken an arrow in their heart to our servicemen that fought their way to the the top of Suribachi on Iwo Jima. This not a dry run, this is the real deal! “We the People” have let the enemies through gate. They’ve penetrated the first and second walls are are now gutting the castle’s keep; i.e., the U.S. Treasury and our way of life.

    Throw away your Ipods, your Blackberrys, your laptops and all your other electro-gadget toys in the shitcan because they aren’t worth the plastic from whence they are wrought; i.e., if you lose your “FREEDOM” for all time and all places. You best get motivated and let your duly elected reps regardless of party affiliation know that you’ve have a bellyful of the lying duplicity from the Bushistas.

    If you are a Republican and you notice that your rep mindlessly supports dubya and you aren’t satisfied with their blind support then you “need” to put your citizens “boot” up their collective rears and get them motivated to think otherwise…no?! This is no longer about Dems vs. Repubs this is about America…”our” America. Screw their party affiliations, agenda’s, platforms and other such nonsense. If you keep supporting them predicated on such petty nonsense then you’ll end up with a UPC tattoo on your arm and and RFID chip imbedded in your neck. So wake up, and as they say just “do it”. Carl Nemo **==


  7. SEAL

    All the democrats have to do is refuse to change the war funding bill they are sending Bush. That will break him. What the hell is he going to do if he doesn’t have any money for his war? It will be the end of his reign. He will probably go nuts and do something really stupid that will force him out of office. Cheney will go with him.

  8. TRUTH 101

    Beg to differ,

    Impeachment is necessary but at another level.
    Kucinich, (with absolutely NO HOPE of becoming President, does in fact have it right.


    It is so obvious that Cheney, certainly no fool, like him or not, saw a chance to run things when he saw absolutely ZERO leadership capabilities or possibilities in BUSH: THAT is why he selected himself for the job…and of course, true to character, BUSH went right along….probably with daddy’s urging.

    Make no mistake, CHENEY is and has been driving this train for six years now. He has been wrong on EVERY COUNT and with an essentially clueless President, he gets away with it.

    Vice-Presidents are supposed to attend meetings, sit in on briefings, ( to be PREPARED ONLY for the Presidency,) go to State Funerals, and generally speak when spoken to.

    That does not describe CHENEY’S role at all
    He, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz (world bank) and probably ROVE handcrafted THEIR GOVERMENT and if BUSH was even in the room I would be surprised. He has been told, you be President, we will run things and that is perfectly OK with him.

    But, Cheney first, then Bush and a trial for BOTH. BUSH will other than being responsible as President would probably survive a trial. Cheney, and the rest will go to jail if it ever happens. Bush would say, I did only what my advisers told me to do and I have high confidence and trusted them. A sad nation would take pity on him…but they shouldn’t. You get the top job YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE whether you want to be or not…is NOT an issue.

    However, I think that the Congree doesn’t act because they are scared to death for their own mis-givings and mis-steps that would be exposed if they did. The entire government would come crashing down and they also know that if CHENEY is exposed, they would be too. HE WOULD NEVER TAKE THE FALL ALONE.

    But you have a point Seal and it could work. Send the same bill back, again and again and again with no changes. there would also be no money…and that as you say might work best especially for the troops.

    If there is no money the contractors will lose interest and this war for all it is, OIL, Supplies, guns, ammo,construction there while roads are in dis-repair here etc will wind down of it’s own accord. If Congress stands it’s ground, troops could stop dying for this mess created by those I mentioned above.

    We could also pull the troops back and say as we are doing it. If YOU Syria or IRAN decide to go after Iraq, we will eliminate you from the face of the earth with overwhelming force, by any means necessary and MEAN IT. Call it the Powell Doctrine…whio is strangely quiet these days.

    You think either would call our bluff? Well if we meant it even if they thought we meant it, we would be taken seriously as a super power again. As it is now with BUSH in charge and Cheney, and cohorts trying to milk every possible dime from this once soverign nation out of it alas !! they might not.

    It’s time to PUT UP or SHUT UP: and regain our freedom as a trustworthy and RESPECTED nation.

  9. mary cali


    of Tenet, but to those who suggest cutting off the funds for the troops, that is harldy an option. They are in harms way and need supplies. Bush and the RNC would love to run images of troops running out of ammo etc.