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Tenet Grilled By Senators in Closed Door Session

HeadlineJul 17, 2003

CIA Director George Tenet yesterday told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed door meeting that he was not personally informed that President George Bush’s State of the Union contained disputed intelligence about Iraq purchasing uranium from Iraq.

But in a five-hour grilling Tenet took responsibility because he said a CIA official approved the speech.

It remains unclear how the assertion that Iraq was purchasing uranium from Africa entered the January speech three months after Tenet personally interceded with the White House to remove a more detailed reference to the claim from a Bush speech on Oct. 7.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginian, the ranking Democrat on the panel, hinted that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation would widen and other witnesses including possibly White House personnel could be brought in for closed-door questioning.

Rockefeller said the committee examining whether the Niger reference was ” an isolated incident or part of a pattern of misleading by the administration.”

He asked, “Was there any attempt to take what was either accurate or inaccurate intelligence and shape it in a way which helped the president makes his case that he wanted to go into Iraq?”

Another Democrat on the committee said, “The real question is why someone was so insistent that they wanted this information in.”

Two Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Howard Dean called for Tenet to resign. A third candidate, Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, the former chairman of the Senate intelligence panel said, “We do not have a George Tenet problem; we have a George Bush problem.”

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