The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Under fire, CIA boss resigns I’m sorry he’s leaving: Bush

Washington, June 3 (Reuters): CIA director George Tenet, who presided over spectacular lapses in US national security, including the September 11, 2001, attacks on America, has resigned and will leave in July, President George W. Bush announced today.

Tenet, who also faced fierce criticism over his agency’s handling of Iraqi intelligence, including a now famous prediction that the case for war against Iraq was a “slam dunk,” broke the news to Bush at the White House last night. “He told me he was resigning for personal reasons. I told him I’m sorry he’s leaving,” Bush said.

The announcement came as a surprise in Washington, shortly before Bush headed to Italy and France. He very quickly lauded Tenet for his seven-year tenure at the spy agency. “He’s strong. He’s resolute,” Bush said. “He has been a strong and able leader at the agency. He’s been a strong leader in the war on terror.”

Tenet’s departure follows mounting criticism of the White House over its handling of intelligence reports on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and warnings of possible terror strikes in the months before the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Saddam Hussein’s reported stockpiling of banned weapons was used as a main justification for the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, where more than 800 US soldiers have died since March 2003.

No chemical, biological or nuclear weapons have been found.

Tenet drew notoriety recently when journalist Bob Woodward said the CIA chief had confidently assured Bush that US forces would find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. “Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk,” the book, titled Plan of Attack, quoted Tenet as saying.

The failure to find weapons and continuing insurgent violence in Iraq has helped push Bush’s job approval ratings to new lows as he faces a tight re-election battle against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Tenet will continue as CIA director until mid-July, when his deputy John McLaughlin will become acting director, Bush said.

“He’s done a superb job on behalf of the American people,” Bush said. “And I will miss him.”

Email This Page