The attached letter, written by a group of former CIA intelligence officers, was sent today to George Tenet to protest his upcoming book tour. We specifically call on him to return the Medal of Freedom he received from George Bush and to donate part of the royalties from his book proceeds to the soldiers (and their families) who have been killed and wounded in Iraq.
29 April 2007
Mr. George Tenet
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York City, New York 10022
ATTN: Ms. Tina Andredis
Dear Mr. Tenet:
We write to you on the occasion of the release of your book, At the
Center of the Storm. You are on the record complaining about the
"damage to your reputation". In our view the damage to your
reputation is inconsequential compared to the harm your actions have
caused for the U.S. soldiers engaged in combat in Iraq and the
national security of the United States. We believe you have a moral
obligation to return the Medal of Freedom you received from President
George Bush. We also call for you to dedicate a significant percentage
of the royalties from your book to the U.S. soldiers and their families
who have been killed and wounded in Iraq.
We agree with you that Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush
administration officials took the United States to war for flimsy
reasons. 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. You were
not a victim. You were a willing participant in a poorly considered
policy to start an unnecessary war and you share culpability with Dick
Cheney and George Bush for the debacle in Iraq.
You are not alone in failing to speak up and protest the twisting and
shading of intelligence. Those who remained silent when they could
have made a difference also share the blame for not protesting the
abuse and misuse of intelligence that occurred under your watch. But
ultimately you were in charge and you signed off on the CIA products
and you briefed the President.
This is not a case of Monday morning quarterbacking. You helped
send very mixed signals to the American people and their legislators in
the fall of 2002. CIA field operatives produced solid intelligence in
September 2002 that stated clearly there was no stockpile of any kind
of WMD in Iraq. This intelligence was ignored and later misused. On
October 1 you signed and gave to President Bush and senior policy
makers a fraudulent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)--which
dovetailed with unsupported threats presented by Vice President Dick
Cheney in an alarmist speech on August 26, 2002.
You were well aware that the White House tried to present as fact
intelligence you knew was unreliable. And yet you tried to have it both
ways. On October 7, just hours before the president gave a major
speech in Cincinnati, you were successful in preventing him from using
the fable about Iraq purchasing uranium in Africa, although that same
claim appeared in the NIE you signed only six days before.
Although CIA officers learned in late September 2002 from a high-level
member of Saddam Hussein's inner circle that Iraq had no past or
present contact with Osama bin Laden and that the Iraqi leader
considered bin Laden an enemy of the Baghdad regime, you still went
before Congress in February 2003 and testified that Iraq did indeed
have links to Al Qaeda.
You showed a lack of leadership and courage in January of 2003 as the
Bush Administration pushed and cajoled analysts and managers to let
them make the bogus claim that Iraq was on the verge of getting its
hands on uranium. You signed off on Colin Powell's presentation to
the United Nations. And, at his insistence, you sat behind him and
visibly squandered CIA's most precious asset--credibility."
You may now feel you were bullied and victimized but you were also
one of the bullies. In the end you allowed suspect sources, like
Curveball, to be used based on very limited reporting and evidence.
Yet you were informed in no uncertain terms that Curveball was not
reliable. You broke with CIA standard practice and insisted on
voluminous evidence to refute this reporting rather than treat the
information as suspect. You helped set the bar very low for reporting
that supported favored White House positions, while raising the bar
astronomically high when it came to raw intelligence that did not
support the case for war being hawked by the president and vice
It now turns out that you were the Alberto Gonzales of the intelligence
community--a grotesque mixture of incompetence and sycophancy
shielded by a genial personality. Decisions were made, you were in
charge, but you have no idea how decisions were made even though
you were in charge. Curiously, you focus your anger on the likes of
Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice, but you decline to
criticize the President.
Mr. Tenet, as head of the intelligence community, you failed to use
your position of power and influence to protect the intelligence process
and, more importantly, the country. What should you have done?
What could you have done?
For starters, during the critical summer and fall of 2002, you could
have gone to key Republicans and Democrats in the Congress and
warned them of the pressure. But you remained silent. Your candor
during your one-on-one with Sir Richard Dearlove, then-head of British
Intelligence, of July 20, 2002" provides documentary evidence that
you knew exactly what you were doing; namely, "fixing" the
intelligence to the policy.
By your silence you helped build the case for war. You betrayed the
CIA officers who collected the intelligence that made it clear that
Saddam did not pose an imminent threat. You betrayed the analysts
who tried to withstand the pressure applied by Cheney and Rumsfeld.
Most importantly and tragically, you failed to meet your obligations to
the people of the United States. Instead of resigning in protest, when
it could have made a difference in the public debate, you remained
silent and allowed the Bush Administration to cite your participation in
these deliberations to justify their decision to go to war. Your silence
contributed to the willingness of the public to support the disastrous
war in Iraq, which has killed more than 3300 Americans and hundreds
of thousands of Iraqis.
If you are committed to correcting the record about your past failings
then you should start by returning the Medal of Freedom you willingly
received from President Bush in December 2004. You claim it was
given only because of the war on terror, but you were standing next to
General Tommy Franks and L. Paul Bremer, who also contributed to
the disaster in Iraq. President Bush said that you:
played pivotal roles in great events, and [your] efforts have
made our country more secure and advanced the cause of
The reality of Iraq, however, has not made our nation more secure nor
has the cause of human liberty been advanced. In fact, your tenure as
head of the CIA has helped create a world that is more dangerous.
The damage to the credibility of the CIA is serious but can eventually
be repaired. Many of the U.S. soldiers maimed in the streets of
Fallujah and Baghdad cannot be fixed. Many will live the rest of their
lives missing limbs, blinded, mentally disabled, or physically
disfigured. And the dead have passed into history.
Mr. Tenet, you cannot undo what has been done. It is doubly sad that
you seem still to lack an adequate appreciation of the enormous
amount of death and carnage you have facilitated. If reflection on
these matters serves to prick your conscience we encourage you to
donate at least half of the royalties from your book sales to the
veterans and their families, who have paid and are paying the price for
your failure to speak up when you could have made a difference. That
would be the decent and honorable thing to do.