Ex-C.I.A. Chief Tenet Nets $500,000 on Talk Circuit
George J. Tenet has kept a low public profile since he stepped down as the country’s intelligence chief in July. But it turns out that he has had a lot to say. In the past few months, Mr. Tenet has earned well over $500,000 in speaking fees from about 20 appearances, associates said. He is negotiating for a lucrative book contract. But when he speaks to large groups, he does so only under ground rules intended to keep his remarks off the record.
In doing so, Mr. Tenet has tried to tread a delicate line, defending beleaguered intelligence agencies and his own performance while steering clear of a more overt debate. In particular, Mr. Tenet has repeatedly sidestepped questions about the wisdom of the war in Iraq, people who have attended the closed sessions said.
“I did not walk in and tell the president that it was wrong to do,” Mr. Tenet said of the decision to invade Iraq, according to The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor, Mich., whose reporter Anna Clark covered an Oct. 20 speech. “I won’t say at the end of the game, when things are looking bad, that I was against it all along.” Still, Mr. Tenet has stopped well short of endorsing the war, his associates say. “We made a decision,” he said in the Oct. 20 speech. “Politically you can decide if it was right. Either way, we need to honor the commitment we made.”
That much is a slam dunk.