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Fall Guy for the Bush Regime? CIA Director George Tenet Resigns

June 04, 2004

Geoge Tenet resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency for "personal reasons," but many analysts say that Tenet is a fall guy for an administration plagued by accusations of misconduct. We speak with two longtime CIA analysts, Mel Goodman and Ray McGovern.

CIA Director George Tenet resigned yesterday citing "personal reasons." Tenet, who was the second longest serving director of Central Intelligence, informed Bush of his decision in an hour-long White House meeting Wednesday night. In what The New York Times describes as an "almost bizarre" announcement, the president revealed the news in a hurriedly arranged appearance before television cameras before leaving on a trip to Europe.

Later in the day, Tenet addressed CIA employees to tell them of his reasons for stepping down: "This is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. And while Washington and the media will put many different faces on the decision–it was a personal decision–and had only one basis in fact the well being of my wonderful family. Nothing more and nothing less."

Despite his claims, many analysts say that Tenet is a fall guy for an administration plagued by accusations of misconduct.

In recent months, the Bush administration has attempted to lay much of the blame for its false claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, its handling of 9/11 and its justification for the war in Iraq on Tenet. The move also came amid a storm over an alleged Pentagon leak of highly classified intelligence to US-backed Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi. After the announcement, Chalabi charged that Tenet himself was behind the allegations against him.

In his speech to CIA employees yesterday, Tenet praised President Bush: "I want to say a word of special thanks to President Bush. On entering office he immediately recognized the importance of rebuilding our intelligence capabilities. He spends time with us almost every day. He has shown great care for our officers. He is a great champion for the men and women of US Intelligence and a constant source of support. It has been an honor for me to serve as his Director of Central Intelligence."

We speak with two longtime CIA analysts about Tenet’s resignation.

  • Ray McGovern, 27-year career analyst with the CIA. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
  • Melvin Goodman , former CIA and State Department analyst. He is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and director of the Center’s National Security Project. He is the author of the new book: "Bush League Diplomacy: How the Neoconservatives Are Putting the World at Risk" (Promethues)