In an article I wrote recently for the Daily Standard on the CIA’s war against the Bush administration, I referred briefly to Michael Scheuer, who once headed the agency’s bin Laden task force, and his book Imperial Hubris. Mr. Scheuer wrote this letter to the Standard in response:
Just a quick note to correct two point in Mr. [Hinderaker’s] article. First, there was no classified information in either of my books, Imperial Hubris and Through Our Enemies’ Eyes. The Agency reviewed every line of both books and found nothing classified. More important, I intended then and intend now to abide by the secrecy agreement I signed at the start of my CIA career in 1982 and binds me now.
Second, it is true that the Agency under Mr. Tenet allowed me to be interviewed about my book Imperial Hubris as long as the book was MISINTERPRETED to be an all-out attack on the Bush Administration. In fact, the book mentions Mr. Bush — or Mr. Clinton, for that matter – very few times, and underlines that my opposition to the Iraq war is based on it breaking the back of the U.S. effort to eliminate al-Qaeda and my personal aversion to offensive wars of choice. Imperial Hubris is overwhelmingly focused on how the last several American presidents have been very ill-served by the senior leaders of the Intelligence Community. Indeed, I resigned from an Agency I love in order to publicly damn the feckless 9/11 Commission, which failed to find any personal failure or negiligence among Intelligence Community leaders even though dozens of serving officers provided the commisioners with clear documentary evidence of that faiure.
If the book became part of the presidential election campaign in 2004 it was because Mr. Tenet and his lieutenants delayed its publication so long that it appeared on the eve of the opening of the Democratic Convention –the mansucript was submitted for the regulation 30-day review period on 5 January, 2004 — and because they forbid me from talking to the media once I began, in interviews, to make it clear that the book was not an attack on President Bush, but rather on Mr. Tenet and his senior colleagues.
As always, I appreciate the Weekly Standard’s interest in my work.
Michael F. Scheuer.