Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Strong words in the staff room, the accusations fly

Oh man, I so wish I was still at the SSP at Georgetown. Then I could witness some academic fighting even more entertaining than in Russo's Straight Man. Douglas Feith and George Tenet are both teaching at Georgetown and are telling very different stories. It is part the battle between policy and intelligence but it also about assigning blame to the war that may well cripple American influence in the 21st century.

What I had not seen is this review of Tenet's book by Feith. You can summarize it as "Fuck you and the book you rode in on." Don't believe me? Read this:

Fairness, evidently, was not Mr. Tenet's motivating impulse as an author. His book is defensive. It aims low--to settle scores. The prose is humdrum. Mr. Tenet includes no citations that would let the reader check the accuracy of his account. He offers no explanation of why we went to war in Iraq. So, is the book useless? No.

What it does offer is insight into Mr. Tenet. It allows you to hear the way he talked--fast, loose, blustery, emotional, imprecise, from the "gut." Mr. Tenet proudly refers to the guidance of his "gut" several times in the book--a strange boast from someone whose stock-in-trade should be accuracy and precision. "At the Center of the Storm" also allows you to see the way he reasoned--unimaginatively and inconsistently. And it gives a glimpse of how he operated: He picked sides; he played favorites. The people he liked got his attention and understanding, their judgments his approval; the people he disliked he treated harshly and smeared. His loyalty is to tribe rather than truth.

Oh, I cannot wait to see the riposte when Feith's book comes out!

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