The real subject of this book is Mr. Tenet's wounded pride. 'At the Center of the Storm,' like its author, is blunt and occasionally profane, witty, deeply combative, emotional, defensive, and scornful of its critics, several of whose attacks on the 506-page book appeared within 48 hours of its publication.
Instantly and universally attacked by both the left and the right, and even by some of his own CIA colleagues, Mr. Tenet rails against the concoction of a mythical history by administration critics that the road to war was paved with lies rather than by incompetence, myths which have become gospel mainly though their endless repetition in the mainstream press and the blogosphere. As a result, he laments, often justifiably, that both he and the agency he led have been smeared.
But Mr. Tenet's book is ultimately unsatisfying, and not, as some critics say, because he and his co-author and a former CIA colleague, Bill Harlow, cashed in on an estimated $4 million book advance and told secrets — since precious few have been divulged here. Rather, the book disappoints mainly because it fails to explore the systematic intelligence crisis that puts us all at risk....
This is an angry book, written after the White House blamed him for the mess it created. Mr. Tenet portrays himself as the latest in a series of "fall guys." But where was he when those policies were being adopted and implemented? Why did he do and say so little at the time? And why, if he could not bring himself to criticize the president he served, did he not quietly resign? He contemplated resigning earlier, he now says, but the president asked him to stay. Only those who remain silently loyal, or at least avoid a ruckus when they go, receive Medals of Freedom.
Ms. Miller, a former New York Times reporter, writes on national security issues.