Tenet on the Staircase with the Neocons
My column in response to George Tenet’s “60 Minutes” interview is available at Salon.com.
The French call it “the spirit of the staircase” (l’esprit d’escalier), the clever reply to someone that comes to you on your way up to the bedroom after a cocktail party. In his new book, released Monday, former CIA Director George Tenet has delivered himself of hundreds of pages on the staircase, imagining what he should have said or could have said to Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and the other neoconservatives who marched the country to war in Iraq using the pretext of Sept. 11. In his April 29 interview with “60 Minutes” touting the book, Tenet came across as a spectacularly tragic Walter Mitty, daydreaming about how things would have been different if only he had spoken up, if he’d only been a James Bond-style spymaster instead of a timid, fawning bureaucrat. But of course, when it really mattered, at the critical juncture of his seven-year tenure as CIA chief, Tenet said nothing.