Tenet to Resign

CIA Director George Tenet has apparently announced his resignation. Barry Ritholtz e-mailed me the news and Drudge also has it, minus any link.

Update: Fox News has a brief story:

CIA Director George Tenet submitted his letter of resignation Thursday, President Bush announced.

Bush said he met with Tenet on Wednesday night in the White House. Tenet said he was resigning for personal reasons.

Tenet has been at the center of controversy over the government’s response to terror threats and the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Bush said Tenet has “done a super job” and is the “kind of public servant you like to work with.”

Tenet will serve as the CIA director until mid-July, Bush said, then CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin will serve as acting director.

AP has more:

President Bush (news – web sites) said Thursday that CIA (news – web sites) director George Tenet has resigned “for personal reasons” and that his deputy will temporarily lead America’s premier spy agency until a successor is found.

“He’s been a strong and able leader at the agency, and I will miss him,” said Bush as he was getting ready to board Marine One for a trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and on to Europe.

“I send my blessings to George and his family and look forward to working with him until he leaves the agency,” Bush said.

Tenet had been under fire for months in connection with intelligence failures related to the U.S.-led war against Iraq (news – web sites), specifically assertions the United States made about Saddam Hussein (news – web sites)’s purported possession of weapons of mass destruction, and with respect to the threat from the al-Qaida terrorist network.

During his seven years at the CIA, speculation at times has swirled around whether Tenet would retire or be forced out, peaking after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and surging again after the flawed intelligence estimates about Iraq’s fighting capability.

Even when his political capital appeared to be tanking, Tenet managed to hang on with what some say was a fierce loyalty to Bush and the CIA personnel. A likable, chummy personality, also helped keep him above water.

Conventional wisdom had been that Tenet, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton (news – web sites), did not plan to stay on next year, no matter who won the White House. Tenet has been on the job since July 1997, an unusually lengthy tenure in a particularly taxing era for the intelligence community that he heads.

“Personal reasons” can either be a euphemism to cover the real reason someone resigned/was fired or it can actually mean what it says. Tenet is, by all counts, a decent fellow who has served honorably. I certainly wish him well. His tenure as DCI, however, has been marred by numerous major failures of intelligence. The extent to which they are the fault of a leader with little institutional power is unclear. Still, his credibility is shot regardless of whether that’s fair. Perhaps that’s why DCI’s don’t last very long.

Update: The Blogosphere is all over this one:

As with others on the list, I’m a bit curious about the permanent successor. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if John McLaughlin [The loud guy on PBS?! -ed. No, a different guy.] were asked to stay on, at least through the election, since he’s already been through Senate confirmation. In the current climate, a confirmation hearing for a new DCI would be an absolute circus that would be unlikely to redound to the president’s benefit.

Update: Kevin Drum may have uncovered the truth: “I think the final straw was Al Gore calling him a ‘personal friend’ and ‘a good and decent man.'” Especially if he did it in his Jesse Jackson voice.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. michele says:

    I didn’t nominate Rudy – Allah did, in my comments.

  2. norbizness says:

    My proposal is to immediately disenfranchise any American voter who believes in the “wanted to spend more time with his family” rationale.

  3. Tenet’s resignation may have been prompted by the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on pre-war intelligence failures. ABCNews reports the findings in the not yet released report on pre-war intelligence failures are “devastating” for Tenet.