In the whirlwind of accusations and recriminations that has attended the post-9/11 world, one man's vital testimony has been conspicuously absent. Candid and compelling, AT THE CENTER OF THE STORM is George Tenet's memoir of his life at the CIA -- a revelatory look at the inner workings of America's top intelligence agency and its dealings with national leaders at home and abroad. With unparalleled knowledge and breadth, Tenet illuminates how the country was prepared -- and not prepared -- to deal with a world full of new and deadly threats.
Beginning with his installation as Director of Central Intelligence in 1997, Tenet unfolds the momentous events that led up to 9/11: his declaration of war on Al Qaeda in 1998, CIA operations inside Afghanistan, the worldwide operational plan to fight terror, his warnings to White House officials in the spring and summer of 2001, and the plan for a response laid down just six days after the attack. Tenet also reveals the CIA's efforts since 9/11 to hunt down the fugitive members of Al Qaeda's leadership.
In his gripping narration of the run-up to the war in Iraq, Tenet provides fresh insights and background, including a privileged account of how the famous "sixteen words" made it into the President's State of the Union speech, the real context of his own now-famous "slam-dunk" comment, and the CIA's views of the rise of an Iraqi insurgency.
Finally, in addition to the backstage story of the headline events, Tenet will offer his thoughts on the future of U.S. intelligence and its role in foreign-policy decisions, setting forth an informed plan for how we can forge a more secure world.
Alternately withholding and aggrieved, earnest and disingenuous, At the Center of the Storm is interesting less for any stunning new revelations than for fleshing out a portrait of the Bush White House already sketched by reporters and former administration members. Mr. Tenet depicts an administration riven by factional fighting between the State and Defense Departments, hard-liners and more pragmatic realists, an administration given to out-of-channels policymaking, and ad hoc, improvisatory decision-making.