Monday, April 30, 2007

Tenet Discontent

[posted by Callimachus]

Giving CIA chief George Tenet the Medal of Freedom seems to me to rank as one of the jaw-dropping-est boners of the Bush Administration. It's probably too late to ask him to give it back now, and the argument against his getting it was just as strong before his new book and recent TV interview, but that doesn't stop people from trying.

In his much-watched "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday, former CIA director George Tenet spoke passionately in defense of his former colleagues at the agency, saying they had been maligned and scapegoated by the Bush administration. Tenet said he wrote his book, "At the Center of the Storm," which goes on sale this week, partly to defend their honor. "The only people that ever stand up and tell the truth are who? Intelligence officers. Because our culture is never break faith with the truth," Tenet said in the interview. But on Monday a group of former CIA officials circulated a letter questioning Tenet's honesty, and harshly criticizing him for "failed leadership" that besmirched the agency. "We believe you have a moral obligation to return the Medal of Freedom you received from President George Bush," said the authors of the letter, adding that Tenet ought to donate "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."

That is, he was undeserving of the honor because of what he did and didn't do, not because of how he now spins what he did. But getting the medal out of his hands is less likely now than ever, since Tenet has publicly commited himself to a rather fantastic self-serving version of the events of his tenure.