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Tenet Memoir Draws Heat From Key Players

In an often defensive interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" aired Sunday, Tenet says the intelligence gained from suspected terrorists in the CIA's covert detention program and its "enhanced interrogation techniques" was more valuable than all the other terrorism-related intelligence gathered by the FBI, the National Security Agency and his own agency.

Yet McCain said the U.S. cannot torture people and maintain its moral superiority in the world. "I don't care what George Tenet says. I know what's right. I know what's morally right as far as America's behavior," the presidential candidate and former prisoner-of-war said Sunday.

McCain said he does not accept Tenet's premise that the CIA's practices save lives because torture and mistreatment historically have not worked in intelligence collection. "We've gotten a huge amount of misinformation as well as other information from these techniques," McCain said.

Tenet and the CIA deny using torture. But McCain's words suggest he believes the CIA's practices amounted to torture and were wrong.

In his book, Tenet said McCain has engaged the country in an important moral debate "about who we are as people and what we should stand for, even when up against an enemy so full of hate they would murder thousands of our children without a thought."

If elected officials believe certain interrogation actions put the country in a difficult moral position, they should be stopped, according to Tenet, once the Democratic staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Critics have started picking apart the book's accuracy. In a dramatic preface, Tenet said he ran into former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle coming out of the White House on Sept. 12, 2001, and Perle told him Iraq had to pay for the attack. "They bear responsibility," Tenet recalls Perle saying.

On Sunday, Perle categorically denied the exchange to the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and noted he was out of the country until Sept. 15. Tenet's associate said the date may have been wrong, but the exchange took place.

Writing in Sunday's Washington Post, the one-time head of Tenet's Osama bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, said Tenet should have told his story sooner.

"At this late date, the Bush-bashing that Tenet's book will inevitably stir up seems designed to rehabilitate Tenet in his first home, the Democratic Party. He seems to blame the war on everyone but Bush (who gave Tenet the Medal of Freedom) and former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell (who remains the Democrats' ideal Republican)," Scheuer wrote.

A half-dozen former CIA officers _ including counterterrorism experts Larry Johnson and Vince Cannistraro _ are urging Tenet to dedicate a significant portion of his royalties to soldiers and families of those killed or wounded in Iraq.

"We agree that the war of choice in Iraq was ill-advised and wrong headed. But your lament that you are a victim in a process you helped direct is self-serving, misleading and, as head of the intelligence community, an admission of failed leadership," they wrote.

Rice appeared on CNN's "Late Edition," ABC's "This Week," and "Face the Nation" on CBS. McCain was on "Fox News Sunday."


Associated Press Writer Scott Lindlaw in San Francisco contributed to this report.


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