George Tenet: Bush’s First Mistake

After watching George Tenet being interviewed by Scott Pelley last night on “60 Minutes,” one thing became clear to me: President Bush should have put his own guy at the CIA at the beginning of his first term.

Tenet seems like he was passionate about his job. He truly wanted to protect the nation from terrorism. Of that, I have no doubt. But let’s face it. He was Clinton’s guy, and he presided over the destruction of the CIA as a fully functioning intelligence agency while he served President Clinton. He should not have stayed on with President Bush, if for no other reason than he was the choice of the president who had the lowest regard for the intelligence community in our nation’s history.

Because of this mistake made by President Bush, we have had a low-grade civil war brewing between the White House and the CIA for close to seven years. The CIA doesn’t trust the White House. The White House disregards the CIA. Joe Wilson is sent by the CIA on an expedition to embarrass the White House. The White House outs a former covert agent. The rest of the world must wonder what the hell is going.

George Tenet can disagree with Vice President Cheney all he wants. But not when he is working for him. And unlike George Tenet, the vice president stood for election and won twice.

Tenet failed. He wasn’t alone. There have been many failures over the last six years in all parts of this administration. Probably the biggest failure is its consistent inability to tell the American people what has gone right in the war on terror. From stopping actual terrorist attacks on American soil to putting pressure on terrorist networks across the globe, there have been successes. But you wouldn’t know it by watching the news or listening to former administration officials spill the beans.

George Tenet was an honorable public servant, but Bush should have never had him there in the first place. That was his first of many mistakes.

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