"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In Which Christopher Hitchens Tells Us What He Really Thinks of George Tenet

George Tenet, former Washington operator, skid-greaser, and all-around intelligence mandarin (as Congressional staffer and CIA director), has written a book. The book is titled "At the Center of the Storm."

Christopher Hitchens has written a review of that book. The review is titled, "A Loser's History -- George Tenet's Sniveling, Self-Justifying New Book is a Disgrace." He doesn't like the book.

Hitchens finds it hard to understand why Tenet has felt compelled formally to adopt the role of author:
Bob Woodward's 2002 effort, "Bush at War," was, in many of its aspects, almost dictated by George Tenet. How do we know this? Well, Tenet is described on the opening page as "a hefty, outgoing son of Greek immigrants," which means that he talked to Woodward on background.
In an administration not widely praised for competence or professionalism, Hitchens thinks Tenet stands out as particularly dim and ineffective:
The author is almost the only man who could have known of Zacarias Moussaoui and his co-conspirators—the very man who positively knew they were among us, in flight schools, and then decided to leave them alone. In his latest effusion, he writes: "I do know one thing in my gut. Al-Qaeda is here and waiting." Well, we all know that much by now. But Tenet is one of the few who knew it then, and not just in his "gut" but in his small brain, and who left us all under open skies. His ridiculous agency, supposedly committed to "HUMINT" under his leadership, could not even do what John Walker Lindh had done—namely, infiltrate the Taliban and the Bin Laden circle. It's for this reason that the CIA now has to rely on torturing the few suspects it can catch, a policy, incidentally, that Tenet's book warmly defends.
After reciting the litany of Tenet testimony respecting Iraq / al-Qaida connections, Iraqi chemical weapons and nuclear ambitions, Hitchens wonders why Tenet picks out the "slam dunk" remark, and concludes:
A highly irritating expression in Washington has it that "hindsight is always 20-20." Would that it were so. History is not a matter of hindsight and is not, in fact, always written by the victors. In this case, a bogus history is being offered by a real loser whose hindsight is cockeyed and who had no foresight at all.

[At least when we visited, Amazon was offering Tenet's book at a special price if you also bought Madeleine Albright's, The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs. Ms. Albright, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, unbelievably claimed that she didn't know she was Jewish until a reporter told her so. Amazon might consider adding "An Inconvenient Truth" for the clueless trifecta.]

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