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Monday, April 30, 2007

Yeah, George - It's All About You

George Tenet's unhinged interview on 60 Minutes last night has been garnering an appropriate amount of criticism all around the blogosphere, and his book is being protested by former intelligence officers, so I guess that this post is just piling on. (Crooks and Liars has the video here.) But the biggest thing that struck me during the first half of the interview, which focused on 9/11 and domestic terrorism, was just how personal Tenet took the terrorist threat. At first blush, and certainly in his mind, this comes off as a man passionately concerned about the citizens of his country. Such zealousness should be applauded, right? However, as he expounded - almost tearfully - on his fingers-in-the-dyke heroic acrobatics to prevent attacks on domestic soil, another message quickly came through.

This guy wasn't concerned with American lives. This guy was, and is, concerned with how a successful attack would make him look. This I can understand at a certain level - you want a professional to be motivated to some degree by what might end up on his resume - but this guy has been out of the job for nearly three years now and he still sounds like he is desperately trying to turn around an exit interview. It was "me," "me," and still more "me."

This take was further reinforced in the even more pathetic second half of the interview, where he "cleared up" the infamous "slam dunk" mischaracterization. Somehow he got it into his head that it would be much more palatable for us to know that he wasn't saying that the existence of Saddam's WMDs were a "slam dunk," but rather that he could put together a "slam dunk" Powerpoint sales job for the American public. (This came of as especially dissonant after he, the head of the CIA, insisted that he really believed that bio and chemical weapons were really there. The head of the CIA, for fuck's sake. Oh yeah, the Soviets were going to get us too, remember?) More "professional concern" there - toadying up to the Chief Executive.

What was he thinking, telling us this stuff?

Because the White House went after him so hard after the house of cards began to tremble, I've really never harbored too many bad feelings towards Tenet over this whole Iraq debacle. I mean, if Dick Cheney wants to throw you under the bus, you can't be all bad, right? But, boy, he managed to cut through that fog with last night's desperate bleating.

You'd've done better just keeping your trap shut. I hope the book money is worth it for you.

Update: Oh, and by the way - the CIA and any other "intelligence" bureaus need to be just shut down. All they ever do is churn out credible-sounding talking points to buttress whatever the aggression-of-the-day the Executive has a hankering for. Just stop it.

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