In the whirlwind of accusations and recriminations that emerged in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq war, one man's vital testimony has been conspicuously absent. Candid and gripping, At the Center of the Storm recounts George Tenet's time at the Central Intelligence Agency, a revealing look at the inner workings of the most important intelligence organization in the world during the most challenging times in recent history. With unparalleled access to both the highest echelons of government and raw intelligence from the field, Tenet illuminates the CIA's painstaking attempts to prepare the country against new and deadly threats, disentangles the interlocking events that led to 9/11, and offers explosive new information on the deliberations and strategies that culminated in the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Beginning with his appointment as Director of Central Intelligence in 1997, Tenet unfolds the momentous events that led to 9/11 as he saw and experienced them: his declaration of war on al-Qa'ida; the CIA's covert operations inside Afghanistan; the worldwide operational plan to fight terrorists; his warnings of imminent attacks against American interests to White House officials in the summer of 2001; and the plan for a coordinated and devastating counterattack against al-Qa'ida laid down just six days after the attacks.
Tenet's compelling narrative then turns to the war in Iraq as he provides dramatic insight and background on the run-up to the invasion, including a firsthand account of the fallout from the inclusion of "sixteen words" in the president's 2003 State of the Union address, which claimed that Saddam Hussein had sought to purchase uranium from Africa; the true context of Tenet's own now-famous "slam dunk" comment regarding Saddam's WMD program; and the CIA's critical role in an administration predisposed to take the country to war. In doing so, he sets the record straight about CIA operations and shows readers that the truth is more complex than suggested in other versions of recent history offered thus far.
Through it all, Tenet paints an unflinching self-portrait of a man caught between the warring forces of the administration's decision-making process, the reams of frightening intelligence pouring in from around the world, and his own conscience. In At the Center of the Storm, George Tenet draws on his unmatched experience within the opaque mirrors of intelligence and provides crucial information previously undisclosed to offer a moving, revelatory profile of both a man and a nation in times of crisis.
Former CIA director Tenet leaves the main vocal duties for this audio in the capable hands of Conger (who also recently narrated The Reagan Diaries). Yet in reading both the brief introduction and lengthy but highly compelling afterword, Tenet demonstrates a command of the spoken word that makes one wonder why he did not handle his own narration. However, the two men project a compatible style and tone, conveying deeply personal emotion within the boundaries of professionalism and decorum. Tenet does not shy away from acknowledging his own responsibility in controversies involving terrorism and the Iraq War, but he also takes several key political leaders to task for scapegoating the intelligence community in the wake of unpopular policy. The musical interludes at the start and end of each CD serve to maintain the cloak and dagger ambience. Those who prefer to skim the surface of news events may find the length taxing, but listeners ready to move beyond the headlines and into a wider world of nuanced complexity will be more than satisfied. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover.