George Tenant's Book to Set Record Straight

Posted on April 19, 2007

Former CIA director George Tenent has a new memoir coming out and, according to early reports, it's a barn burner. Apparently, Tenant is furious at all the things the White House said about him and he's determined to set the record straight. Tenant flat out denies, for example, that he told President Bush that the invation of Iraq would be a "slam dunk."

The long awaited tell-all (or at least tell-some) memoir from former CIA director George Tenet is coming at the end of the month. Apparently Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has seen it or been briefed on it because on Chris Matthews' Sunday show today on CNN he spilled some beans about it.

Matthews himself must know something about the book, At the Center of the Storm, because he said, before kicking it to the columnist, "Tenet takes on vice president Dick Cheney. Cheney has maintained that Tenet told President Bush in December of 2002, two weeks before Bush decided to invade Iraq, that there was a 'slam dunk' case to be made that Saddam Hussein possessed those banned weapons. But now Tenet denies ever making that claim. David, this is a big fight. It's pushback time. How tough is this book gonna be?"

Ignatius replied: "It's going be very tough. George Tenet has been doing a slow burn ever since he left the CIA. He's been angrier and angrier as he saw himself being essentially made the fall guy on WMD in Iraq. And he's gonna come back saying he and his agency, the CIA, were pushed, again and again, by Cheney and Cheney's people to give him the answers that they wanted. And he's got chapter and verse on that."

He added: "He will tell a story that I think will make people's hair curl. But he's been waiting a long time to tell this�And he'll also say�this is a very important part of this�that, on the question of what would happen in Iraq after the invasion, the CIA pretty consistently warned, 'You have trouble ahead. You will not be able to unite this country. Sunnis and Shiites are gonna be at daggers.'"

All these books by CIA employees have to first be approved by the CIA Secret Book Review Committee (we're fairly sure that's the exact, official name). And after they get past the Committee, they've usually been stripped of all interesting details. But Tenant has mostly political, not spy, bombshells to drop, so maybe his book emerged from the Committee relatively unscathed.