George Tenet's Memoir: Curious and Provocative

By Murphey, Dwight D. | The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

George Tenet's Memoir: Curious and Provocative


Murphey, Dwight D., The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies


George Tenet's Memoir: Curious and Provocative At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA George Tenet, with Bill Harlow HarperCollins, 2007

This memoir is an important book for a number of reasons. Primary among them is that it, in common with the memoirs of others prominent in the William Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, will serve historians as one of the main source documents for sorting out the intricacies of the pre- and post-9/11 periods, including the U.S. actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

No one could have been more central to those events than George Tenet, who served at the heart of U.S. intelligence throughout the Clinton administration and for the first three-and-a half years of the ensuing Bush administration. He had for four years been the staff director for the Senate Intelligence Committee before joining the National Security Council staff for three years. He became the second in command at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1995, and the Acting Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) in 1996. The "acting" was soon dropped, and he served as DCI (running the C.I.A. and 16 other agencies) from 1997 until July 2004. Tenet is now on the Georgetown University faculty as a distinguished professor. The book is written "with Bill Harlow," but Harlow is someone quite different from the usual professional writer brought in to fashion a book for a celebrity. Instead, Harlow, as C.I.A. spokesman, worked closely with Tenet during the seven years of Tenet's service as DCI.

By its nature, the memoir is a gold mine of information about many facets of those years. Much of the initial interest in the book has been in the context of the "finger pointing" that is inevitably going on about responsibility for what is commonly perceived as a series of debacles. These include intelligence insufficiencies before 9/11; the botched intelligence on Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction; whether the intelligence was misused in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq; and the American mistakes that led into and then fed the quagmire that has so long existed following the United States' initial success in Iraq.

We won't assess in total context the pros and cons of that finger pointing in this review. Such assessment is receiving considerable attention elsewhere, and is being done by people who have been much better positioned to judge it than we are. At most, we will do so to a limited extent made possible by a critique simply of the book's content.

It is hard to come away from the book without being struck by the magnitude of the responsibilities George Tenet shouldered and by the immensely difficult human position he found himself in. A chief intelligence officer is in a delicate position when he, as essentially a factual analyst who aspires to objectivity, finds himself part of a human milieu whose members for ideological or policy reasons desperately desire the facts to be as they would like them to be. There is much reason to empathize strongly with Tenet in those circumstances.

But there is something curious about Tenet's discussion. But first, a caveat: although it may seem so, none of what we mention about this should be understood as this reviewer's attempt to draw from the book a defense of the invasion of Iraq as wise or as competently planned and executed. The points we will explore have to do with certain specific judgments that, though important, were not themselves definitive as to the whole picture.

Now, to proceed: Tenet seeks to separate himself from the warenthusiasts within the Bush administration, doing so by telling how on several occasions he intended to communicate facts circumspectly, applying a high burden of proof before conclusions could be affirmed. But even though this was, as he says, his intention, he reacted to his circumstances by allowing himself to put his imprimatur as DCI on White House and Pentagon thinking that applied a lesser, common-sense burden of proof. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

George Tenet's Memoir: Curious and Provocative
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.