CIA Director Tenet Resigns
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was noncommittal on Tenet's performance, saying, "History will tell what the implications of his tenure were." He said, "I think history will either vindicate him or say, 'Hey, there was a problem there,'" AP reported.
Before the resignation was announced, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, voiced criticism of the U.S. intelligence community at a meeting with Republican legislators on Capitol Hill this morning.
Roberts said the community is "somewhat in denial" over the full extent of its shortcomings on Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks. "We need fresh thinking within the community, especially within the Congress, to enable the intelligence community to change and adapt to the dangerous world in which we live, and for all of us -- all of us -- to look in the mirror and honestly examine our collective performance over the last decade."
After Tenet's resignation was announced, Roberts and Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a joint statement praising Tenet's "will and tenacity" in modernizing the CIA.
"His tenure at the Central Intelligence Agency provided much-needed stability and leadership to an agency largely adrift," the statement said. "While he steps down during a period of controversy over events leading up [to] the attacks of 9/11 and the quality of intelligence prior to the Iraq War, we should not lose sight of a simple truth: George Tenet has served his country with distinction and honor during difficult and demanding times." The statement said Tenet "will be sorely missed."
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, whose agency has also come under criticism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, praised Tenet for helping "to bridge the gap between the CIA and FBI" to provide greater security to Americans. He said Tenet's efforts have made the United States "better able to predict the actions of our adversaries and to protect Americans form evolving transnational threats."
Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), the Senate minority leader, said he was surprised by the announcement. "I don't think anyone saw it coming," he said, according to AP. "I think we need to know more about the reasons why this surprise announcement came today." Tenet has "been under very harsh criticism" and "great pressure," Daschle said, adding, "Whether or not that's a factor is not something I can comment on."
Tenet was appointed by President Bill Clinton and has served as CIA director since July 1997. He previously was acting director and deputy director of the agency. Before joining the CIA, the Georgetown University graduate worked as staff director for the Senate Intelligence Committee from 1988 to 1993, and served on Clinton's National Security Council staff from 1993 to 1995.
Staff writers Dana Priest, Mark Stencel and Fred Barbash contributed to this report.
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