George Tenet Resigns as CIA Director

Bush Says Embattled Spy Chief Cited 'Personal Reasons'

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CIA Director George Tenet

hide captionCIA Director George Tenet waits to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Feb. 24, 2004.

© Larry Downing/ Reuters/Corbis
President Bush meets with George Tenet

hide captionPresident Bush, left, meets with George Tenet at Camp David after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

White House

Supporters of outgoing CIA Director George Tenet say he leaves behind an agency with greater morale, increased covert-operation capabilities and much-improved relations with the U.S. president. But critics say Tenet's support of faulty intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction crossed the line into policy advocacy.

On Thursday, President Bush announced Tenet was resigning as CIA director for "personal reasons." Tenet has led the spy agency for seven years.

A Tenet Timeline


Jan. 5, 1953: Born in Queens, N.Y., to Greek immigrants
1976: Graduates from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
1978: Obtains master's in international affairs from Columbia University
1982-85: Legislative assistant to Sen. John Heinz, R-PA
1985-86: Senate Intelligence Committee staff member; directs the panel's oversight of U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations
1989-92: Senate Intelligence Committee staff director
1993: Joins President Clinton's national security transition team; served as special assistant to the president and senior director of intelligence programs for the National Security Council
1995: Deputy director of the CIA, under John Deutch
1996-97: Acting director of the CIA
July 11, 1997: Assumes post of CIA director
February 2004: President Bush says Tenet's job is safe despite critics' complaints about pre-war intelligence on Iraq
April 14, 2004: In testimony before the Sept. 11 commission, Tenet acknowledges intelligence failures prior to the terrorist attacks
June 3, 2004: President Bush announces Tenet's resignation for "personal reasons"

Bush called Tenet a strong and able leader. "I send my blessings to George and his family and look forward to working with him until he leaves the agency," Bush said.

Tenet has been a Washington survivor, serving in the top intelligence post under Democratic and Republican administrations. He was the lone official in a senior post held over from the Clinton administration.

But the United States suffered a series of intelligence failures on his watch — including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and inaccurate estimates about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Some have suggested that Tenet's duties overseeing all U.S. intelligence efforts were too much for one person and should be divided among more than one director.

Tenet will continue as CIA director until mid-July. Earlier this year, Tenet had warned that he might not remain in his post through a second Bush administration, but the timing of Tenet's resignation took many by surprise. Deputy Director John McLaughlin will lead the agency temporarily until a successor is found.

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