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George Tenet Resigns as CIA Director

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.

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.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.