Depending on whom you ask, George Tenet (SFS ’76) is either an innovative administrator and able leader, or an incompetent bureaucrat.

But now, the former director of central intelligence who inspires such a range of different feelings among followers, will have an opportunity to make his own case in his new book, “At the Center of the Storm.”

Tenet, now a distinguished professor in the practice of diplomacy in the School of Foreign Service, has received much of the blame for faulty intelligence used by the Bush administration in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 while he ran the Central Intelligence Agency.

Tenet stepped down from his post in June 2004 citing personal reasons, and he has made few public appearances since then. His long-awaited memoirs are set for release on April 30.

In the book, Tenet is expected to defend the veracity of his agency’s intelligence and attempt to restore his damaged reputation within the Beltway. Bruce Hoffman, a professor in the SFS, said the book is a valuable opportunity for Tenet to put the accusations to rest.

“He has no agenda other than to clear his name and to give his point of view,” said Hoffman, whose research has focused primarily on terrorism.

Tenet, who was appointed CIA director by President Bill Clinton (SFS ’68), has not criticized the Bush administration’s decision to go into Iraq.

The Bush administration’s attitude toward Tenet has been ambivalent since his resignation. In December 2004, President Bush awarded Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest award for a civilian.

But Vice President Dick Cheney was not complimentary in a 2006 interview with Tim Russert on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Cheney recalled a conversation in the Oval Office in which Tenet proclaimed the evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as “a slam dunk.” Although Cheney believed Tenet at the time, Cheney said that “clearly the intelligence that said [Saddam] did was wrong.”

Tenet defended the CIA in a February 2004 speech in Gaston Hall, when he was still in office. At the time, he said that “the search must continue” for weapons of mass destruction and that “finding things in Iraq is always tough.”

Tenet also countered criticism that his agency had intentionally exaggerated evidence.

“Success and perfect outcomes are never guaranteed. But there’s one unassailable fact: We will always call it as we see it. Our professional ethic demands no less,” Tenet said in the speech.

In the past few years, however, as support for the Iraq war has waned, Tenet has remained tight-lipped.

Adam Feiler (SFS ’09), communications director for the College Democrats, who took part in an anti-war protest last month on the National Mall, said that the Bush administration may deserve more blame for supposed intelligence failures than Tenet does.

“I definitely would be interested in reading the book. I’m not sure that the intelligence was as wrong as the administration made it out to be, rather that it was selectively taken to make the case for war,” Feiler said.

Hoffman said he eagerly anticipates the contents of the book.

“There are two sides to every story, and I think it’s critical that we hear his side,” he said. “I think this will likely be one of the most important books of the year, if not our time.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.