George Tenet and the Last Great Days of the CIA


Richard D. White, Jr., is the Marjory Ourso Excellence in Teaching Professor at Louisiana State University, where he teaches in the Public Administration Institute. He is the author of Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long (Random House, 2005) and Roosevelt the Reformer: Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commission 1889–1895 (University of Alabama Press, 2003). His 24-year government career includes service in the White House, State Department, and Central Intelligence Agency.


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George Tenet served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1997 to 2004, an intense period spanning the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and covering the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Few other central intelligence directors have served for so long, so energetically, or amid so much controversy. This profile examines the steep trajectory of Tenet’s career, his response to the al-Qaeda threat, the role he played during the invasion of Iraq, and the eventual reorganization of the nation’s intelligence community. It describes a public servant caught between the warring factions of the White House decision-making process, his own agency’s intelligence priorities, and, ultimately, his own conscience.