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June 24, 2004
An Angry Tenet Fires Back

After the release of a scathing report by the House Intelligence Committee calling the CIA "dysfunctional" and on the verge of incompetence, outgoing DCI George Tenet fired back in an angry letter to the committee's chairman, Porter Goss:

Outgoing CIA Director George Tenet has fired off an angry letter to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, after the committee issued a scathing report criticizing the agency's human intelligence gathering as "dysfunctional" and averse to risk.

"Dysfunctional organizations do not perform the way the Directorate of Operations performed in Afghanistan and in support of the military in Iraq before and after the conflict," Tenet wrote to Rep. Porter Goss.

"Dysfunctional organizations do not take down or eliminate the most dangerous proliferators in the world ... nor do they aid in the disarmament of a country like Libya. To suggest that the organization that was key to all these victories, not to mention the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and more than two thirds of the al Qaeda leadership, is on the verge of being incapable of the 'slightest bit of success' is frankly absurd."

The report oddly criticized the CIA for being too focused on counterterrorism and counterproliferation efforts, which should raise some eyebrows after the treatment the CIA (and the Administration) got from the 9/11 Commission. In nan age of Islamofascist terror, the focus has to remain on counterterrorism -- in fact, the only way to prevent another 9/11 is the maintenance of a high alert from Homeland Security and the CIA. Tenet agrees:

"Countering the threat from terrorism is, of course, and should be, at the top of the CIA's list of collection priorities," the report said. "But the Central Intelligence Agency must continue to be much more than just the 'Central Counterterrorism Agency' if America is to be truly secure, prosperous and free."

To that, Tenet responded in his letter that "I find it hard to accept that any serious observer would believe, as the committee apparently does, that there is an unhealthy emphasis on counterterrorism and counterproliferation efforts."

Perhaps if the committee feels that too much effort is being spent on counterterrorism, they could provide more funding for other efforts instead of advising the CIA to reduce its counterterror operations. Their report loses credibility on this point, and one can understand why Tenet got angry reading it. Perhaps it would be instructive for Porter Goss and the rest of the House Intelligence Commitee to hear from their constituents about their feelings on the importance of counterterrorism.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 24, 2004 7:05 AM

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