Open Letter to George Tenet

04/29/2007 06:22 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

April 29, 2007

Dear Mr. Tenet:

The Bush years have been a boon for "public servants" such as yourself, Paul Bremer, and others, who sign obscenely lucrative book deals after leaving the Bush administration like rats jumping from a sinking ship. As the former Director of Central Intelligence, who will forever be known as "Slam Dunk," you have become the latest co-conspirator of the Iraq war to produce a "tell all" book that will no doubt resound throughout the Beltway.

You have greedily snatched up a $4 million advance to write the most self-serving "memoir" since the publication of Henry Kissinger's, The White House Years. Your publisher, the Rupert Murdoch-owned HarperCollins, took out an expensive full-page advertisement in today's New York Times, pitching it with all the subtlety of a carnival barker. Your cliché title, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, should be entitled: Pointing the Finger: My Attempt to Blame Everybody Else for Iraq and Make Four-Million Dollars in the Process.

Mr. Tenet, if you had one iota of integrity you would donate the $4 million to charity and give the trinket, the "Medal of Freedom," that President George W. Bush delicately clasped around your neck, to one of the 20,000 severely wounded Iraq war veterans. Better yet, you could give the $4 million and any other royalties from the book to the families of the nearly 3,500 American troops who have died in a bloodbath that you helped create.

Mr. Tenet you are playing what the Republicans call "the blame game." You absolve yourself of any wrongdoing, as if you were an innocent bystander during the run up to the Iraq War. And although you were the DCI when several high-profile terrorists slipped into the United States to demolish the World Trade Center on your watch, you are blameless for being asleep at the switch.

Mr. Tenet, you argue that Bob Woodward took your "Slam Dunk" comment "out of context," and you claim that you were offering a more cautious interpretation of the pre-war intelligence than others in the administration were serving up, most notably the neo-cons in the Pentagon and the vice president's office.

But if that is true, Mr. Tenet, then what the hell were you doing on February 5, 2003 sitting like a potted plant right behind Secretary of State Colin Powell during his now infamous dog-and-pony show about Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" before the United Nations? Your presence seated over Powell's right shoulder like the good angel during his lengthy presentation gave the world the impression that the CIA, which you headed, had given its imprimatur to all of the lies that had poured forth from his mouth that day. If "Slam Dunk" did not encapsulate your views of the WMD intelligence, then maybe you should have refused to sit behind Powell.

Also, Mr. Tenet, if your "Slam Dunk" remark has been used against you so unfairly, you had ample opportunities to clarify the record before gobbling up a $4 million book contract to tell your side of the story. You could have submitted your resignation to your boss, President Bush, who is reviled the world over, yet has touched a special place in your heart. Or you could have told him that you are not interested in receiving the "Medal of Freedom," because you felt so betrayed by how the CIA caught the blame for everything that has gone wrong in Iraq.

You might have, Mr. Tenet, refused to allow your beloved CIA to enter into the secret prison business, or spy on Americans involved in the peace movement, or any number of other episodes of perfidy and malfeasance we've come to expect from the Agency.

Finally, Mr. Tenet, if you knew for a fact that your hero Bush and his VP had already decided to launch an illegal war on Iraq, which is exactly what the Downing Street Memo says they did, (i.e. "fix" the intelligence to create a pretext), then why would a man of your self-proclaimed integrity and judgment stay on as a water carrier for such an administration?

Mr. Tenet your book is pulp fiction. Seeing Condoleezza Rice denounce it is the first time I found myself ever agreeing with Ms. Rice on anything, though for totally different reasons. Your self-serving "memoir," Mr. Tenet, is nothing but excrementitious agit-prop.

Joseph A. Palermo