Letter from an alumnus about George Tenet's Medal
In the light of the recent commission report on American intelligence agencies as well as by what has previously been disclosed concerning intelligence failures, can someone please explain to me how the ex-director of the CIA, George Tenet, could be chosen to receive the highest civilian award for excellence, the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Wasn’t he the one ultimately responsible for the agency that presented (and was encouraged by the administration to do so) misinformation on the Iraqi arms buildup as well as the Iraqi link to Al-Qaeda and 9/11? Nor did he have any idea as to the situation the U.S. government would face after the conventional warfare ended. Since when did it become fashionable to award a person largely responsible for leading the country into a misguided war and untenable occupation such as that we now face in Iraq?
We now know that dissenting opinions were not allowed to be voiced, or were entirely ignored. Not only was the State Department opposed to the invasion, but according to the dean of Middle East ambassadors, Richard W. Murphy, senior fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations, leading members had a much more realistic view of the aftermath of the invasion than did the administration and actually drew up a long and detailed document on how and what needed to be accomplished following a successful invasion. The president apparently turned a deaf ear to such advice and, not until the onslaught of the occupation, bothered to take this document seriously.
We know that the president had the invasion of Iraq in mind long before the 9/11 tragedy
and that 9/11 served as a springboard for realizing such a course of action. Was Tenet awarded his medal, not for his failures, but because he fed the president the type of information he knew the president was seeking?
CHARLES CANFIELD BROWN ’53Kingston, N.Y.
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