Background - Excerpts from linked articles
started as an aide to a lobbying group for solar
power. He then worked for a long time on
Capitol Hill, mainly for moderate Democrats. The
important mentor in his career was David Boren, a
conservative Democrat from Oklahoma who chaired
the Senate Intelligence Committee during a period
where Tenet was his chief staffer. It was
Boren's mentorship that Tenet moved from the
Senate to the Clinton National Security Council [NSC],
where he was in charge of intelligence, budgeting
and decision-making at a level that put him right
at the heart of the bureaucratic process that is
the intelligence community in D.C.
several years, completely out of the limelight, he
worked at the NSC at the heart of this culture.
In the mid-90s, at the beginning of Clinton's
second term, the
leadership imploded, and Clinton sent Tenet
out there as deputy director, because he was the
only person who could be confirmed."
There was a sort of euphoria that the Bush
administration was going to be a strong backer of
the CIA. They had kept on Mr. [George] Tenet [as
director of the CIA], which was surprising given
the fact that he was a Democratic operative for
most of his career. Certainly Mr.
reshaped the CIA during his tenure from
being an organization that certainly served the
president, but also served the rest of the U.S.
government, whether it was the Department of
Agriculture or the State Department or DoD
[Department of Defense]. He had reshaped the CIA.
The president was our main reason for existence in
the sense that he was what
Mr. Tenet called the "first customer."
"Under Mr. Tenet, he was a very big one for
pushing forward younger officers, and the danger
of that, of course, is obvious to everyone: You
send people to brief senior-level people, they
have less experience, they're not able to draw on
a long track record of working the same issue for
a long time, and they've very conscious of living
in Washington, in a very expensive environment,
and really needing to be promoted. Those type of
people are much more pliable in terms of feeling
the pressure from a person like the vice president
or the president.
Part of the problem is the agency's a very
young organization now. We've lost a lot of people
through retirement. When Mr. Tenet first came in,
they ran a program that they called the
"early-out" program, trying to get people to
retire. They thought they would lose a lot of the
What happened was they lost a lot of
their mid-grade managerial-type people who had a
lot of years before them and who were very good
As a whole, the agency's very young and very
inexperienced. Mr. Tenet liked to be associated
with younger people and younger officers who were
-- and this is only my opinion -- more likely to
produce the kind of analysis that he wanted to
At his confirmation
hearing in June 1995, Tenet also had cited four
other personal priorities for his tenure at the
agency: providing "actionable" intelligence that
cannot be obtained elsewhere,
implementing the "reengineering" of the
intelligence community, revitalizing its troubled
Directorate of Operations, or clandestine service,
and upgrading its counterintelligence
JIM LEHRER: We go first tonight to the CIA
story, President Clinton's nomination of George
Tenet to be director of Central Intelligence.
Tenet is the current deputy director. His
nomination follows the withdrawal yesterday of
Lake. Tenet is 44 years old, a former
congressional staffer who served as staff director
of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was the
staff director of intelligence on the National
Security Council at the beginning of the Clinton
administration. He became deputy CIA director in
July 1995. President Clinton made the Tenet
announcement late this afternoon at the White
GEORGE TENET, CIA
Director-Designate: Mr. President, thank you very
much. I just would like to take a moment just to
read a brief statement. I'm deeply honored that
you've nominated me to be director of Central
ways, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, it's a
bittersweet moment for me. I had hoped to serve
with my good friend, Tony Lake, as his deputy. And
as you said yesterday, he has made an enormous
contribution to our country.
Tenet's nomination culminates a swift rise
through the ranks of Washington staff jobs,
as an energy association employee and a
legislative assistant to the late Sen. John Heinz
(R-Pa.), and progressing to staff director
of the Senate intelligence committee and then
senior intelligence adviser on the National
Security Council staff.
White House, Tenet was a principal author of
PDD-35, a classified presidential directive that
set out new priorities for the intelligence
community, including providing support to military
operations; stopping counterterrorism,
counternarcotics and organized crime; and
penetrating radical countries in the Middle East
"He wrote the intelligence priorities and then
went to the agency to see that they were
implemented," a White House official said.
"We are at war," Tenet stated in that memo. "I
want no resources or people spared in this
effort." But what kind of war was this? A phony
war, if you count the actual number of CIA
analysts devoted full-time to studying bin Laden's
terrorist network: three, with two others added in
the months before 9/11. (A CIA spokesman later
contended that these numbers were wrong, that
there were actually nine analysts devoted to bin
Laden-still hardly a warlike effort.)
On September 11, 2001, Tenet was having
breakfast at the Hay-Adams Hotel near the White
House with his mentor, former Oklahoma Democratic
senator David Boren. One of Tenet's security
guards brought him the news: "A plane has gone
into the World Trade Center, Mr. Director."
said: "Was it an attack? It sounds like an
attack." Tenet jumped in his limousine to dash
over to CIA headquarters.
Before leaving, Tenet
told Boren: "This is bin Laden. His fingerprints
are all over it." This comment showed a) that
Tenet was aware of the danger of an attack on the
U.S. by bin Laden but also b) that the CIA viewed
itself as helpless to predict-and thus to help
prevent- such an attack.
Which is completely unacceptable, because it is
precisely to avoid such disasters that we have an
intelligence establishment. Tenet himself is an
important part of the problem. He backed into the
position of CIA director in 1997 after President
Clinton's first choice, Anthony Lake, was forced
to withdraw. His first intelligence experience was
as staff director for the Senate Intelligence
Committee from 1988 to 1993, a job he lost when
the Senate went Republican. He quickly found
refuge as special assistant to the president for
national security affairs and senior director for
intelligence programs on the White House National
Security Council staff, a key policymaking
position for intelligence issues.
Tenet became deputy director of Central
Intelligence, the No. 2 official in the community.
deputy director, Tenet was involved in covering up
the security violations of then-director John
Deutch. In December 1996, Deutch left the agency;
in early 1997, CIA security investigators
discovered highly classified documents on Deutch's
Macintosh computers. Deutch, it turned out,
had a habit of typing his notes into an unsecured
laptop computer after secret briefings in the
He would then e-mail copies of the notes to
himself at home, using his America Online account,
and retrieve them on a home computer. Some
of the most important secrets were compromised by
the practice, which exposed such secrets to
interception by foreign spies. "We know that
foreign intelligence services routinely monitor
the Internet for just such material," a senior
Pentagon official said. "And AOL is a major
undertook an investigation of Deutch-but later
reprimanded six current and former officials for
mishandling the probe: "The principal shortcoming
in the Deutch matter was that normal Agency
procedures for handling and reporting a serious
security incident were not followed. Among
other things, a crimes report should have been
submitted sooner to the Department of Justice."
And the reason for this delayed notification was
pure politics: Had they told DoJ sooner, a special
prosecutor would have had to be appointed to deal
with the case. The delay staved off such an
inquiry. Tenet managed to escape punishment even
though-as the official in charge of overseeing the
security probe-he should have been held
accountable. Tenet was, however, faulted by the
CIA inspector general for "not involving himself
more forcefully in the Deutch matter in order to
ensure a proper resolution of it."
Other problems have burgeoned.
analyst told me that he was harassed by CIA
managers "for writing analyses that did not jibe
with Clinton foreign policy." Another
senior intelligence official says: "The agency
under Tenet is the most politically attuned CIA in
Woodward quotes a conversation Barbara Bush had with former senator David Boren, an old family friend, in which she says that she and her husband are "worried" about Iraq -- with the former president "losing sleep over it." Boren asks why the father did not talk to the son.
Side Note: [ During George H.W. Bush's
administration, he sent
Robert Zoellick to help the COMMUNIST Chinese set up APEC.
and APEC - partnered with Mexico is pushing the NAFTA
Supercorridor using NAFTA Chapter 11 which Carla Hills put
in the NAFTA agreement when she negotiated NAFTA during
"As an Under
Secretary of State, Ambassador Zoellick assisted
in the formation and early years of APEC."
Bushwhacked and Shanghai'd
Boren then recommended Tenet to
President-elect Bill Clinton in 1992,
urging that he be appointed to head the
administration's transition team on
intelligence. The following year, Tenet
was named National Security Council
staff director for intelligence,
responsible for coordinating all
intelligence matters for the White
House, including covert action.
In 1995, Clinton named him deputy CIA
director, and two years after that, he
appointed him director of central
intelligence (DCI), charged with heading
the CIA and the vast U.S. intelligence
In early 2001, Boren called President-elect Bush, praising Tenet as nonpartisan and urging him to keep him on as CIA director. Ask your father, he suggested. When the younger Bush did, the former President George H.W. Bush said, "From what I hear, he's a good fellow," one of the highest accolades in the Bush family lexicon.
Tenet, who has a keen nose for cultivating political alliances, had helped the senior Bush push through the controversial nomination of Robert Gates as CIA director in 1991, and later led the effort to rename CIA headquarters for Bush, himself a former DCI.
The former president also told his son, the most important thing you'll do as president every day is get your intelligence briefing.
In retrospect, it is evident that the new Bush
administration failed to devote sufficient
attention to the threat of international terrorism
after it came into office. Bush admitted as much
to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. One
nagging question concerns just how much President
Bush was told about al Qaeda's threat to attack
the U.S. homeland in the days and weeks prior to
CIA Director Tenet and his patron, former Senator
David Boren, convinced Woodward that Tenet had
been warning anyone who would listen in Washington
about the threat from al Qaeda. But Tenet
is a seasoned and skilled manipulator of the media
and has been waging a persistent campaign to
protect his reputation from blame for the 9/11
success in that campaign is evident in Woodward's
book, Bush at War. Woodward wrote that Tenet and
his director of operations, also a Clinton
appointee, had warned Bush before he took office
about bin Laden's "immediate" and "tremendous"
threat. Woodward charged that, nine months into
the new administration, "they did not have a plan
in place to do something about somebody the CIA
director said is an immediate and tremendous
It is significant that Ross, who has slavishly
followed the FBI's lead in the fruitless and
heavy-handed pursuit of Steven Hatfill in the
anthrax letters case, went against the FBI
bureaucracy in this matter. Ross noted that, on
6, U.S. Customs agents, as part of their own
investigation, conducted a midnight search of
Ptech, a Boston-area company believed to be
secretly owned and controlled by al-Kadi. The
computer firm's clients include the Naval Air
Systems Command, NATO, Congress, and the
Department of Energy, which handles security for
nuclear weapons and material. Experts told ABC
News that Ptech had easy access to the computer
systems of those agencies and institutions.
PTECH - Government contracts
WRIGHT IS PROVEN RIGHT
ABOUT FBI MISDEEDS
On May 30, 2002, FBI Special Agent Robert
Wright appeared with Judicial Watch Chairman Larry
Klayman at a Washington news conference and
tearfully apologized for the bureau's inaction
before 9/11. One of Wright's investigations led to
the seizure in June 1998 of $1.4 million in
terrorist funds linked to a Saudi businessman.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bush
administration designated the businessman, Yassim
al-Kadi, as a financial supporter of Osama bin
said that if Wright's investigation had been
pursued, "the money to fund terrorist operations,
such as 9/11, would have been cut off." He said
"these monies were moving through some powerful
U.S. banks," affected "some very powerful
interests in the U.S.," and that resistance to
taking the investigation forward stemmed from
conflicts of interest because top officials were
"tight" with Saudi Arabia. Klayman said FBI
officials had to be nervous "when the rich and
powerful in Washington, D.C. are doing business
with some of these entities" that could be coming
said that when he went to the Justice Department
after 9/11 offering Wright's expertise, he was
told by Michael Chertoff, head of the
Criminal Division, that they were not interested
in conspiracy theories.
a brilliant but prickly scientist from MIT,
succeeded Woolsey but made few significant changes
at the CIA, either. Then after a failed attempt by
Clinton to place his national security adviser
Anthony Lake in the CIA's top spot, the president
Tenet, who had served as Deutch's deputy and
before that as Boren's top aide on the Senate
The failure to vet Gates now may come back to
haunt Tenet as the policies and personnel pushed
by Gates continue to dominate the CIA's analytical
division, as CIA morale sags further and its
reputation as an intelligence agency deteriorates
more. Because the
gave Gates a pass on the "politicization" charges,
along with almost everything else, the
intellectual corruption of the Casey-Gates era at
CIA still is not widely understood.
October 11, 2000
has had, by Washington standards, a meteoric rise.
A former staffer on the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence and a member of the National Security
Council during Clinton's first term,
he came to
the CIA as a deputy to agency Director John Deutch
in 1995 and became acting director after Deutch
quit in 1996. Clinton appointed Tenet only
after Lake, the president's national security
adviser, fell victim to Republican opposition on
Tenet's nonpartisanship smoothed Senate
senator David Boren, D-Okla., who plucked Tenet
from the chorus in 1989 and made him the
intelligence committee director over more senior
staffers, says he still does not know
whether Tenet is a Democrat or Republican.
Also, though attrition rates are low compared
with the private sector - 4% a year vs. 15%,
to Tenet - retention is a major concern,
especially considering that by the year 2005, up
to 40% of the workforce will have been at the CIA
for five years or less.
"My problem is Cisco's problem, is General Motors'
problem, is Martin Marietta's problem, is a
dot-com problem," Tenet said. "We can't
give you stock options and make you rich, but the
psychic income here is terrific.
Young people here are given more responsibility
and greater access to big issues than anyplace
Because, his boosters say, Tenet's rise was
fueled by smarts, loyalty, a taste for truth
telling, and a commitment to reform that somehow
didn't cost him the respect of the CIA.
In 1987 he
was a 34-year-old Senate intelligence-committee
staff member when chairman David Boren chose him
to be the new staff director. Boren put him in
charge of auditing clandestine CIA programs.
Tenet, says Boren, forced the agency to
shut down two major covert operations after his
staff found that case officers opposed U.S. policy
goals and possibly allowed informants to siphon
funds. Since his boss John Deutch resigned last
December, Tenet has run the CIA--but not without
incident. Last month Tenet said the agency did not
know prior to 1995 that an Iraqi weapons dump
blown up by U.S. troops in the Gulf War may have
contained chemical weapons. Last week Tenet
acknowledged the agency had sketchy information as
early as 1986. Now that Lake, Clinton's first
choice to replace Deutch, has been chased from the
theater, Tenet the understudy is onstage. Already,
critics are waiting to coach him their lines: rein
in the CIA's hard-core culture; implement ethics
courses for officers; create "honest spies." Soon,
he will have to brave the reviews.
The plight of the
CIA analysts in the
1980s also received
little attention in
Washington amid the triumphalism of the
early 1990s. The
story did surface
briefly in 1991
hearings to become
President George H.W.
Bush’s CIA director.
Then, a group of CIA
analysts braved the
wrath by protesting
Led by Soviet
Gates as the key
testimony added to
doubts about Gates,
who was already
under a cloud for
testimony on the
and allegations that
he had played a role
in another covert
scheme to assist
But the elder George
Bush lined up solid
David Boren, the
Committee chairman –
to push Gates
Boren’s key staff
aide who limited the
Gates was George
Gates’s behalf won
appreciation of the
senior George Bush.
chits would serve
Tenet well a decade
later when the
younger George Bush
protected Tenet as
his own CIA
director, even after
failure of Sept. 11,
2001, and later
on Iraq’s WMD.
job was to provide targets. Says one former
CIA official, "He thought it was the key mission
of the agency and wanted to be very involved in
the decision-making and was."
intelligence on Afghanistan was excellent.
Satellite imagery had shown that bin Laden was
operating out of training camps in Khost, near the
Pakistan border. But the target in Africa
was more difficult.
had presented what the intelligence community
actually knew of Al Qaeda at that time, he might
have had to acknowledge that he didn't have a sure
target to propose. But Tenet was unwilling
to disappoint the White House. So, in addition to
training camps in Afghanistan,
proposed a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum,
Sudan, called Al Shifa. Tenet claimed that
the factory was known to be producing
a chemical compound that is an ingredient in the
deadly nerve gas VX, and that its owners were
linked to Al Qaeda.
With these complaints swirling around, the
State Department's INR conducted a study of the Al
to an intelligence official who was involved, INR
"came up with the politically embarrassing
conclusion that there was weak evidence."
INR was particularly critical of the claim that
the plant was producing VX or its precursor
chemicals. Faced with these cascading doubts about
the intelligence he had provided,
upped the ante. At a closed Senate meeting on
September 1, 1998, Tenet claimed that the CIA had
now uncovered links between the plant's new owner
and Al Qaeda. But, when the U.S. Treasury froze
Idris's U.S. bank accounts, the plant owner sued.
Required in court to show evidence of Idris's
links to bin Laden, the Treasury Department backed
off and unfroze his accounts.
who was also under attack from Republicans for
allegedly allowing Chinese subversion at U.S.
weapons labs, steadily gave way to the
political pressure, ultimately agreeing to
Republican demands for a new NIE on the missile
threat and assigning the task to Robert Walpole,
the national intelligence officer for strategic
and nuclear programs.
coming to the CIA from State, Walpole--an earthy,
motorcycle-riding, Mormon bishop with a fierce
intellect--had become Tenet's all-purpose
troubleshooter, taking on such delicate tasks as
the Chinese-subversion inquiry. Once handed
the missile defense dossier, Walpole wasted no
time smoothing ruffled feathers. Within weeks of
the Korean launch, Walpole heaped praise on the
Rumsfeld commission in a speech to the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace. Then, in early
1999, he convened a group of analysts from the
CIA, INR, DIA, National Security Agency, Air Force
intelligence, and Department of Energy (DOE) to
draft a new NIE.
during the week after the September 11 attacks,
Tenet became indispensable. Since becoming the
director in 1997, Tenet had been holding daily
meetings with the agency's Counterterrorism Center
to plot a course of action against bin Laden and
his organization. When the attacks came, he was
ready. While the Pentagon admitted to the
president that it had no war plan for carrying the
battle to Al Qaeda, Tenet produced one practically
off the shelf. Says one former CIA official, "When
the political will caught up with what they were
doing, which unfortunately took September 11, then
they were in a position to take quick action
because of all the legwork they had done."
Shortly after 9:30 p.m., President Bush brought
together his most senior national security
advisers in a bunker beneath the White House
It was just 13 hours after the deadliest attack on
the U.S. homeland in the country's history.
Intelligence was by now almost conclusive that
Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, based in
Afghanistan, had carried out the attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
That morning the president's key advisers were
scattered. Cheney and Rice were at their offices
in the West Wing.
was at his office in the Pentagon, meeting with a
delegation from Capitol Hill.
[Audio Clip - Rep.
John Mica re: 9/11 meeting with Rumsfeld.
Statement made in 2007 hearing on Pat Tillman's