Former Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet continues to come under fire for profiting directly from the Iraq War, about which he now claims to have had misgivings. Tenet has reportedly received a $4-million advance from HarperCollins for his book At the Center of the Storm, and he also commands a speaking fee of $50,000 each time he addresses a corporate group. Tenet has a substantial government pension, and his salary from Georgetown University, where he has a three-year appointment as the Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Diplomacy, is reported to be in the six figures. But Tenet’s most significant income, an estimated $2.3 million since 2004, derives from his participation on the boards of a number of corporations that are contractors for the intelligence and defense communities. Tenet has three key directorial positions—with L-1 Identity Solutions, which provides biometric identity software; Guidance Software, which specializes in forensics; and QuinetiQ, a British defense technology firm that was until recently owned by the Carlyle Group. Tenet has also been linked to Science Applications International Corp, a major defense and intelligence contractor. He wrote much of his book in a SAIC secure facility where he was able to work with classified documents (which raises the question of how a former CIA director continues to have access to secret material to enable him to write a for-profit book). The CIA workforce is now 60 percent contractors, nearly all of whom come from companies like those with which Tenet is associated. Contractors cost the taxpayer two to three times as much as a staff employee does, but they are frequently expensed off-line in the budget and can have their positions eliminated when their contracts expire, which is why federal government managers prefer to use them.
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Col. Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell when he was secretary of state, told a May 7 gathering why Powell did not resign during President Bush’s first term. He feared that his departure would mean that the Pentagon would be completely unrestrained in its attempted reshaping of U.S. foreign policy. According to Wilkerson, the Pentagon began to interfere in the policy process very early in the Bush administration. He cited as one example the dispatch of senior Pentagon officials to Taiwan during 2001 to urge the Taiwanese leadership to declare the country independent of mainland China. Pentagon officials assured the Taiwanese that if they were to do so, the United States would adopt a “two China” policy, abandoning the current American recognition of the People’s Republic as the sole legal government of China. Beijing would have reacted strongly and perhaps unpredictably to such a move. When Powell heard about the Pentagon initiative, he was livid and immediately sent senior State Department officers to Taiwan to inform them that a new China policy was not being contemplated and that Taiwan’s declaring independence would not be supported by the United States.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a partner in Cannistraro Associates, an international security consultancy.