George Tenet’s magical mystery tour

Chris Hondros/Getty As the George Tenet book tour continues, he’s sounded one consistent note: I was not a policymaker, he’s argued, my job was merely to feed information to the policymakers. In theory, that’s true enough. And it should be true. If the intelligence agencies get too involved in the policy business, they can compromise ...

By , a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
602178_070502_tenet_05.jpg
602178_070502_tenet_05.jpg

Chris Hondros/Getty

As the George Tenet book tour continues, he's sounded one consistent note: I was not a policymaker, he's argued, my job was merely to feed information to the policymakers. In theory, that's true enough. And it should be true. If the intelligence agencies get too involved in the policy business, they can compromise their intelligence gathering and synthesis missions.

But Tenet, let's remember, wasn't always a vigilant guardian of that line between policy and intelligence. In 2000, he jetted to the Middle East to negotiate an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. He even got a peace plan named in his honor. It was all pretty odd stuff for a Director of Central Intelligence to be doing, and it renders his current protestations a bit hollow. Principal responsibility for the litany of Iraq mistakes, of course, remains with the real policymakers. But we shouldn't forget that Tenet sometimes wanted to be one of those.

Chris Hondros/Getty

As the George Tenet book tour continues, he’s sounded one consistent note: I was not a policymaker, he’s argued, my job was merely to feed information to the policymakers. In theory, that’s true enough. And it should be true. If the intelligence agencies get too involved in the policy business, they can compromise their intelligence gathering and synthesis missions.

But Tenet, let’s remember, wasn’t always a vigilant guardian of that line between policy and intelligence. In 2000, he jetted to the Middle East to negotiate an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. He even got a peace plan named in his honor. It was all pretty odd stuff for a Director of Central Intelligence to be doing, and it renders his current protestations a bit hollow. Principal responsibility for the litany of Iraq mistakes, of course, remains with the real policymakers. But we shouldn’t forget that Tenet sometimes wanted to be one of those.

David Bosco is a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of The Poseidon Project: The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

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