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George John Tenet
George Tenet

In office
July 11, 1997 – July 11, 2004
President Bill Clinton Wikipedia
George W. Bush
Preceded by John M. Deutch
Succeeded by Porter J. Goss

Born January 5, 1953 (1953-01-05) (age 64)
New York City
Political party Democratic[1]
Religion Greek Orthodox

George John Tenet (born January 5, 1953) was the Director of Central Intelligence Wikipedia for the Central Intelligence Agency and is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University Wikipedia. Tenet held the position as the DCI from July 1997 to July 2004, making him the second-longest serving director in the agency's history – behind Allen Welsh Dulles – as well as one of the few DCIs to serve under two U.S. presidents of opposing political parties. In February 2008 he became a managing director at the merchant bank Allen & Company.

Background Edit

Tenet was born in Flushing, Queens, New York to a family of Greek origin. His mother, Evangelia, came from the Greek-speaking region of Northern Epirus, which is now present-day Southern Albania, and his father, John, from Greece. His father worked in a coal-mine in France before arriving in the United States.[2] Tenet was raised in Little Neck, Queens where he and his brother Bill worked as busboys in their family's diner (later renamed Scobee Diner). He attended Public School 94, Louis Pasteur Junior High School 67, and Benjamin N. Cardozo High School (he was a classmate of Ron Jeremy and actor Reginald VelJohnson and Narrek Megherian).[3] Tenet holds a bachelor's degree (1976) from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a master's degree from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University (1978).

Tenet is married to Stephanie Glakas-Tenet. They have one son.[4]

Early careerEdit

After he received his M.I.A., Tenet became research director of the American Hellenic Institute from 1978 to 1979.[5] He then began working for the Senate, first as a legislative assistant and later as Legislative Director to former Senator H. John Heinz III of Pennsylvania (1982-1985). He was a staff member of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Wikipedia (SSCI) from 1985-1988, then Staff Director of the SSCI from 1988-1993. Later, Tenet joined President-elect Bill Clinton's national security transition team. Clinton appointed Tenet Senior Director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council (1993-1995).[6][7]

CIA careerEdit

Tenet was appointed Deputy Director of Central Intelligence in July 1995. After John Deutch's abrupt resignation in December 1996, Tenet served as acting director. This was followed by the withdrawal of Anthony Lake, whose nomination had been blocked by Republicans in Congress. Tenet was then officially appointed Director on July 11, 1997, after a unanimous confirmation vote in the Senate. While the Director of Central Intelligence has typically been replaced by an incoming administration ever since Jimmy Carter Wikipedia replaced DCI George H. W. Bush Wikipedia, Tenet served through the end of the Clinton administration and well into the term of George W. Bush.

Tenet embarked on a mission to regenerate the CIA, which had fallen on hard times since the end of the Cold War. The number of agents recruited each year had fallen to an all-time low, a 25-percent decline from the Cold War Wikipedia peak. Tenet appealed to the original mission of the agency, which had been to "prevent another Pearl Harbor". The trick was to see where danger might come from in the post-Cold War world. Tenet focused on potential problems such as "the transformation of Russia and China", "rogue states" like North Korea, Iran and Iraq, and terrorism.[8]

1999 Bombing of the Chinese Embassy in BelgradeEdit

Main article: US bombing of the People's Republic of China embassy in Belgrade

On May 7 1999, during the Kosovo War, US bombers struck the Chinese embassy in Belgrade with 5 JDAM precision guided bombs, killing three. The USA claimed the attack was accidental. In testimony before a congressional committee, Tenet later admitted the strike was the only one in the campaign organized and directed by his agency,[9][10] though he still claimed it was not deliberate. China referred to his explanation for "the so-called mistaken bombing" as "anything but convincing" and has never accepted the US version of events.[11]

Al-Qaeda and the War on TerrorEdit

By 1999 al-Qaeda had emerged as a significant terrorist threat. The 1998 bombings of two US African embassies were the latest in a string of attacks on American interests in the west Indian-Ocean region. And in 2000 the USS Cole was bombed in Aden in an attempt to sink her, killing 17 naval personnel.

The PlanEdit

In 1999 Tenet put forward a grand "Plan" for dealing with al-Qaeda. In preparation, he selected new leadership for the CIA's Counterterrorist Center (CTC). He placed Cofer Black in charge of the CTC, and "Rich B" (a "top-flight executive" from Tenet's own suite) in charge of the CTC's Bin Laden unit. Tenet assigned the CTC to develop the Plan. The proposals, brought out in September, sought to penetrate Qaeda's "Afghan sanctuary" with US and Afghan agents, in order to obtain information on and mount operations against Bin Laden's network. In October, officers from the Bin Laden unit visited northern Afghanistan. Once the Plan was finalized, the Agency created a "Qaeda cell" (whose functions overlapped those of the CTC's Bin Laden unit) to give operational leadership to the effort.

The CIA concentrated its inadequate financial resources on the Plan, so that at least some of its more modest aspirations were realized. Intelligence collection efforts on bin Laden and al-Qaeda increased significantly from 1999. "By 9/11", said Tenet, "a map would show that these collection programs and human [reporting] networks were in place in such numbers as to nearly cover Afghanistan". (But this excluded Bin Laden's inner circle itself.)[12]

The Predator droneEdit

The CIA also experimented with a small remote-controlled reconnaissance aircraft, the Predator, to try to spot Bin Laden in Afghanistan. A series of flights in autumn 2000, overseen by CTC officials and flown by USAF drone pilots from a control room at the CIA's Langley headquarters, produced probable sightings of the al-Qaeda leader.[13]

Black and others became advocates of arming the Predator with adapted Hellfire anti-tank missiles to try to assassinate Bin Laden and other Qaeda leaders. But there were both legal and technical issues. Tenet in particular was concerned about the CIA moving back into the business of assassination. And a series of live-fire tests in the Nevada Desert in summer 2001 produced mixed results.

Tenet advised cautiously on the matter at a meeting of the Cabinet-level Principals Committee on September 4, 2001. If the Cabinet wanted to empower the CIA to field a lethal drone, Tenet said, "they should do so with their eyes wide open, fully aware of the potential fallout if there were a controversial or mistaken strike". National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice concluded that the armed Predator was required, but evidently not ready. It was agreed to recommend to the CIA to resume reconnaissance flights. The "previously reluctant" Tenet then ordered the Agency to do so. The CIA was authorized to "deploy the system with weapons-capable aircraft".[14]

The strategic assessments branchEdit

In late 2000 Tenet, recognizing the deficiency of "big-picture" analysis of al-Qaeda, appointed a senior manager in the Counterterrorist Center to investigate "creating a strategic assessment capability". In spring 2001 the CTC got back to him, requesting the hiring of "a small group of contractors not involved in day-to-day crises to digest vast quantities of information and develop targeting strategies".

The CTC's Strategic Assessments Branch was formally set up in July. But it struggled to find personnel. The head of the branch finally took up his post on September 10, 2001.[15]

The September 11, 2001 attacksEdit

After the September 11 attacks, many observers criticized the Intelligence Community for numerous "intelligence failures" as one of the major reasons why the attacks were not prevented.[16]

Tenet testified before a public hearing of the Sept. 11 Commission investigating 9/11, that he did not meet with Bush in August 2001, the month before the September 11 attacks. The same evening after the hearings, a CIA spokesman corrected Tenet’s testimony, stating that Tenet did indeed meet with Bush twice in August.[17] Tenet in his memoir writes of his memorable visit to Bush at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, August 2001.[18]

In August 2007, a secret report written by the CIA inspector general was made public (originally written in 2005 but kept secret). The 19-page summary states that Tenet knew the dangers of Al Qaeda well before September 2001, but that the leadership of the CIA did not do enough to prevent any attacks. Tenet reacted to the publication of this report by calling it "flat wrong", citing in particular the planning efforts of the past two years.[19]

Tenet immediately increased the size and capability of the CIA's special operations component housed in the Special Operations Group of the Special Activities Division. This force had been allowed to diminish under the early Clinton administration. These Paramilitary Operations Officers were the first to enter both Afghanistan and Iraq. Once in these countries these officers organized and led the Northern Alliance against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Kurds against Ansar Al-Islam and Saddam's forces in Iraq. The rebuilding of this capability and the successful employment of these elite commandos is considered one of Tenets greatest achievements in the Global War on Terror.[20][21][22]

Worldwide Attack MatrixEdit

Tenet considered that his Qaeda plan had placed the CIA in a better position to respond after the 9/11 attacks. As he put it,

How could [an intelligence] community without a strategic plan tell the president of the United States just four days after 9/11 how to attack the Afghan sanctuary and operate against al-Qa'ida in ninety-two countries around the world?[23]

File:Tenet.jpg

This was at a meeting of the restricted National Security Council -- or "war council" -- at Camp David on September 15, 2001. Tenet presented the Worldwide Attack Matrix, a blueprint for what became known as the War On Terror.[16] He proposed firstly to send CIA teams into Afghanistan to collect intelligence on, and mount covert operations against, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The teams would act jointly with military Special Operations units. "President Bush later praised this proposal, saying it had been a turning point in his thinking."[24]

Use of Water Boarding and Willingness to Use Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT's)Edit

The CIA was authorized by President Bush to use water boarding and other forms of enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT's) during interrogations of suspected Al Qaida members Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri during Tenet's directorship.[25][26]

Tenet and Iraq WMD controversyEdit

According to a report by veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward in his book Plan of Attack, Tenet privately lent his personal authority to the intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.[27] At a meeting on December 12, 2002, he assured Bush that the evidence that Iraq had WMDs amounted to a "slam dunk case." After several months of refusing to confirm this statement, Tenet stated that it was taken out of context. He indicated that it was made pursuant to a discussion about how to convince the American people to support invading Iraq.[28] The search following the 2003 invasion of Iraq Wikipedia by U.S., British and international forces yielded no significant WMDs.

ResignationEdit

Citing "personal reasons," Tenet submitted his resignation to President Bush on June 3, 2004. James Pavitt, his Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA, announced his resignation the following day, leading to speculation that the exit of both senior intelligence officials was related to the controversy over alleged Iraqi WMDs and the decision to go to war. Admiral Stansfield Turner, director of the CIA under President Jimmy Carter Wikipedia, said, "I think the president feels he's in enough trouble that he's got to begin to cast some of the blame for the morass that we are in Iraq on to somebody else and this was one subtle way to do it." (Boston Herald Wikipedia, June 4, 2004) However, Bush voiced support for Tenet's efforts, stating, "George Tenet did a superb job for America. It was a high honor to work with him, and I'm sorry he left." (Reuters Wikipedia, June 5, 2004)

Recent activitiesEdit

QinetiQEdit

In October 2006 Tenet joined QinetiQ Wikipedia as an independent non-executive director.[29] Tenet then stepped down from the board in February 2008 to become the managing director of the secretive investment bank Allen & Company.[30] Tenet also sits on the boards of directors of L-1 Identity Solutions, a major supplier of biometric identification software, and Guidance Software, which makes forensic software used to search computer hard drives for evidence.[31] Along with a number of other notable Greek Americans, he is a member of the advisory board of The Next Generation Initiative, a leadership program aimed at getting students involved in public affairs.

MemoirEdit

Main article: At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA

In April 2007 Tenet released his memoir titled At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA. He appeared on 60 Minutes on April 29, 2007, offering much criticism of the Bush administration. The book was the top-selling book in sales in the first week after publication.

The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of its Enemies since 9/11 (2006) by Ron Suskind was apparently written with Tenet's cooperation.[32] The book claims that Abu Zubaydah, once said to be al-Qaida chief of operations, was a low level functionary and mentally ill.[33] Even after determining this, Tenet continued to have Zubaybah waterboarded so he could produce fanciful stories of terrorist plots, the book claims.[33]

In his memoirs, Tenet responded as follows:

A published report in 2006 contended that Abu Zubaydah was mentally unstable and that the administration had overstated his importance. Baloney. Abu Zubaydah had been at the crossroads of many al-Qa'ida operations and was in position to - and did - share critical information with his interrogators. Apparently, the source of the rumor that Abu Zubaydah was unbalanced was his personal diary, in which he adopted various personas. From that shaky perch, some junior Freudians leapt to the conclusion that Zubaydah had multiple personalities. In fact, Agency psychiatrists eventually determined that in his diary he was using a sophisticated literary device to express himself. And, boy, did he express himself.[34]

Critics pointed out a factual error in Tenet's book. On the book's first page, Tenet tells of a conversation with then-Pentagon advisor Richard Perle on September 12, 2001 in which Tenet claims Perle told him in person that "Iraq had to pay for the attack." But the conversation could not have occurred on that day, because Perle was stranded in Paris on September 12 and didn't return to Washington until three days later. Perle later stated that the two men indeed crossed each other one morning, as claimed by Tenet, but only later in the same week and not on September 12. But Perle insisted that he and Tenet exchanged no words in that encounter.[35][36]

See alsoEdit

TimelineEdit

Main article: George Tenet:Timeline

ReferencesEdit

  1. Interview: Steve Coll, PBS Frontline, 2006
  2. Tenet, George; Bill Harlow (2007). "Chapter I: The Towpath, p.10". At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA. HarperCollins. pp. 576. ISBN Wikipedia 0061147788. 
  3. Queens Tribune Online, QConfidential
  4. The George Tenet story - US News and World Report
  5. Hellenic News of America
  6. Diamond, John (October 14, 2002). "CIA director's allies outrank his enemies". USA Today. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  7. Militaryfactory.com
  8. Steve Coll, Ghost Wars (Penguin, 2005 edn), pp.317, 354, 359-62.
  9. Tenet, George (1999-07-22). "DCI Statement on the Belgrade Chinese Embassy Bombing House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Open Hearing". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2006-10-04. 
  10. Schmitt, Eric (1999-07-23). "In a Fatal Error, C.I.A. Picked a Bombing Target Only Once: The Chinese Embassy". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  11. "Strong Protest by the Chinese Government Against The Bombing by the US-led NATO of the Chinese Embassy in the Federal Yugoslavia". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 2001-11-17. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  12. Steve Coll, Ghost Wars (Penguin, 2005 edn), pp.436-7, 451-2, 455, 456, 466-72, 485, 646 note 42, 654 note7; 9/11 Commission Report, chapter 11, p.357 (HTML version); ibid., chapter 4, p.142-3 (HTML version); cf. ibid, chapter 6, p.204 (HTML version); Tenet statement to the Joint Inquiry on 9/11, Oct. 17, 2002; Tenet, At The Center Of The Storm, pp.119, 120.
  13. Coll, Ghost Wars, pp.527, 532; 9/11 Commission Report, chapter 6, pp.189-90 (HTML version)
  14. Coll, Ghost Wars, pp.580-1; Tenet statement to the 9/11 Commission, March 24, 2004, pp.15, 16; Barton Gellman, "A Strategy's Cautious Evolution", Washington Post, Jan. 20, 2002, p.A01; 9/11 Commission Report, chapter 6, pp.210-14 (HTML version); ibid, Notes, p.513, note 258 (see note 255) (HTML version)
  15. Joint Inquiry Final Report, Part Three, p.387; 9/11 Commission Report, chapter 11, p.342 (HTML version)
  16. 16.0 16.1 CCC - Intelligence Failure and 9/11
  17. Newsmine.og, retrieved February 5, 2010
  18. Tenet, George; Bill Harlow (2007). "At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA." HarperCollins. ISBN 0061147788.
  19. "CIA criticises ex-chief over 9/11". BBC. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  20. Woodward, Bob (18 November 2001). "Secret CIA Units Playing a Central Combat Role", Washington Post.
  21. Woodward, Bob (2002) "Bush at War", Simon and Schuster.
  22. Woodward, Bob (2004) "Plan of Attack", Simon & Schuster.
  23. Tenet, At the Center of the Storm, pp.121-2; cf. p.178.
  24. 9/11 Commission Report,26 July 2004,Page 332
  25. Tran, Mark (2008-02-08). "CIA admit 'waterboarding' al-Qaida suspects". London: The Guardian newspaper (UK). Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  26. "CIA's Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described". ABC news (USA). 2005-11-18. Retrieved 2002-02-29. 
  27. Goldberg, Jeffrey (2007-05-21). "Woodward vs. Tenet: The New Intelligence War". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  28. Shane, Scott; Mazzetti, Mark (April 27, 2007). "Ex-C.I.A. Chief, in Book, Assails Cheney on Iraq". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  29. Buncombe, Andrew (October 25, 2006). "Former CIA chief joins the board of QinetiQ". The Independent (London). Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  30. United Press International. "Tenet gets job at secretive N.Y. bank". Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  31. Shorrock, Tim (2007-05-07). "George Tenet cashes in on Iraq". Salon.com. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  32. Capsule Reviews of Books About Dick Cheney
  33. 33.0 33.1 The Shadow War, In a Surprising New Light
  34. George Tenet. "At the Center of the Storm: My years at the CIA". HarperCollins. p. 243. 
  35. William Kristol (2007-04-27). "George Tenet's Imaginary Encounter...". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  36. Katherine Shrader (2007-04-30). "Tenet Memoir Draws Heat From Key Players". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 

External linksEdit

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