Tenet Resigns as CIA Director
The criticism of Tenet is only expected to get worse when the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence releases its report in mid-June on prewar intelligence on Iraq, said officials who have seen the report.
The report accuses Tenet of failing the president by providing poor analysis and relying on outdated and thinly sourced information to prepare its National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons have been found in Iraq.
The Sept. 11 commission's report is due in mid-July and is expected to be equally harsh on the CIA director.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said yesterday morning that he is disappointed that "almost three years after 9/11, no one has been fired or disciplined." Likewise, "nearly two years after the NIE on Iraq" was written, "no one in intelligence has been fired or disciplined."
Tenet read the Senate report last week, telling an acquaintance, "I'm not going to be chased out by a piece of paper."
But neither did he want to become a focus of the presidential campaign -- either as a target of Democrats' attacks or as a defender of the Bush White House.
Former senator David Boren (D-Okla.), a longtime friend, said Democrats in the campaign will surely bring up a passage in Bob Woodward's new book, "Plan of Attack," in which Tenet is quoted as telling Bush that the evidence that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction amounted to a "slam-dunk case."
Tenet "was not going to talk about conversations with the president, and he did not want to see the agency as a political football," said Boren, who was chairman of the Senate intelligence panel when Tenet was a Senate staff member.
Boren said Tenet had been looking for a time when he could step down. "Each time he started to resign, they would be in the middle of something and the president wanted him to stay on," Boren said. More than avoiding the coming criticism, Boren said, Tenet "wanted to get on with the rest of his life."
The recent crush of criticism of the CIA has virtually drowned out public talk of the agency's successes. They include the assassination or capture of two-thirds of al Qaeda's leadership, the dismantling of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's black-market nuclear supply network, and pushing Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to end his nuclear weapons programs. There have also been no terrorist attacks in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.
Tenet signaled his intention to leave last week, in a meeting with the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Questioned on how he would handle criticism from the Senate inquiry and the Sept. 11 commission, he said: "It's just not going to happen. I'm not worried about it."
Pressed about whether he was about to resign, he quipped, "You must be talking to my wife."
Tenet told associates he had made his decision after vacationing in New Jersey recently with his family. He said he wanted to take his son, John Michael, on college visits, and he choked up in front of CIA employees yesterday when talking about his son, who was in the audience.
His son was in second grade when Tenet was sworn in as deputy director, he told employees, "and he's grown up to be" -- but Tenet got too emotional to finish the sentence. Then he added:
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