George Tenet's At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA promises to be one of the more incendiary poitical memoirs seen in recent times. Tenet's stormy tenure as head of the CIA included the run-up to 9/11, and he gets his thought processes, opinions, and actions out for the record. Today's Powells review is the estimable Bob Woodward's take on Tenet's book. Woodward is better-positioned than most public figures to weigh in on 9/11 and the review itself makes interesting reading.
To be fair to Tenet and the CIA, they had been working their tails off for years, often successfully, to thwart terrorists around the globe. But Tenet should have been the instant messenger to the Oval Office in the summer of 2001. His lapse and apparent decision not to carry the request for action to the president himself doesn't mean that the 9/11 attacks might have been averted. But the failure does reveal Tenet's limitations. He was the president's intelligence officer, the top man responsible not only for providing information, but also for devising possible solutions to threats.
A dedicated, often innovative and strong leader beloved by many at the CIA, Tenet nevertheless was hampered by a bureaucrat's view of the world, hobbled by the traditional chain of command, convinced that the CIA director's "most important relationship with any administration official is generally with the national security adviser."
No. Your most important relationship is with the president.