Battle of the Giants: Bob Woodward vs. George Tenet, Round 3

By: E&P Staff If you've been keeping score at home, you probably know that Bob Woodward of The Washington Post wrote a fairly critical review of former CIA Director George Tenet's new book, "At the Center of the Storm," last week. Of course, the two men know each other well, due to Woodward's own books related to 9/11 and the Iraq war in recent years.

What did Tenet think about it? He didn't say much at first, but now Jeffrey Goldberg in The New Yorker this week relates what Tenet has to say, and then a reply from Woodward. Here are the key passages.

[Tenet] paused for a moment, and then his view of Woodward burst forth: ?I mean, the one thing I object to, you know, the one thing I really object to, is ?You didn?t tell the President.? There?s nothing about the threat reporting in that period that I didn?t tell the President correctly about. So there?s this one meeting that occurs?the President understood?look, it started in the spring. Look, we wrote any number of pieces about the potential for a large attack against U.S. interests. I mean, he knew exactly what we were doing overseas.?

He continued, ?So maybe Woodward thinks, Well if you wanted covert action, you should have gone to the President. Well, no, I?m sorry. Direct? If you wanted covert action?well, I remember directors that went directly to the President, around a policy process, to get a covert action going. That doesn?t work. You don?t jump the principals and say, ?Give me covert action.? So it?s good for Bob to say that, but the point is that?s how I believed this worked. There?s a disciplined process of governance. I got enough cowboy to last me a lifetime that spring and summer?of 2001."

Woodward's response to the above:

?I hate to say this, but I think the world agrees with me. Governments and Presidents expedite things all the time. . . . President Bush told me he didn?t feel that sense of urgency, and that his blood was not boiling before September 11th. I would argue that Tenet?s job was to boil the President?s blood. That?s why you show up on the President?s doorstep. I?m raised in a culture where you don?t observe the chain of command, you go around.?


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here