Tags: War on Terrorism | cia | chief | george tenet | memo | clinton | administration

Ex-CIA Chief's 2005 Memo: Clinton Admin. Bankrupted Agency Before 9/11

By    |   Friday, 12 Jun 2015 10:42 PM

The CIA was stretched too thin in the years before 9/11, its coffers bankrupted by a Clinton administration that refused to let the agency prioritize its anti-terror work, former director George Tenet argued in a startling 2005 memo declassified Friday.

According to the document – a response to an inspector general's damning draft report accusing Tenet of not giving al Qaeda enough attention ahead of the terror attacks – the former CIA chief, who served from 1996-2004, gave a full-throated defense of the agency's attention to anti-terror concerns and other global problem spots, the Washington Times reports.

Tenet argued, for example, the agency had been pushing to penetrate al Qaeda since as far back as 1998, and took the threat of Osama bin Laden very seriously, the Washington Times reports.

He also mentioned averting a "major attack" planned by al Qaeda for 1999 or 2000, though no details were included, the newspaper reports.

"Your report does not adequately address the context of an intelligence community that had to respond to wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, the prospect of war between India and Pakistan, China’s military buildup and threat to Taiwan, the requirements of policy makers, particularly in Congress, to pursue narco-traffickers in Central and South America, and numerous other such requirements," Tenet wrote, ticking off all the work the agency was responsible for.

"Despite all of these stresses, despite the fact that we had effectively been in Chapter 11 as an intelligence community, we continued on a path to methodically increase both CIA and intelligence community resources and our personnel base devoted to terrorism."

Tenet also painstakingly details the number of times he asked for more money for counterterrorism – and the nine occasions he said he sent memos to senior officials in both the executive branch and Congress warning of terrorist plots.

"Even though senior policy makers were intimately familiar with the threat posed by terrorism, particularly those in the previous administration who had responded to major attacks, they never provided us the luxury of either downgrading other high priority requirements we were expected to perform against, or the resource base to build counterterrorism programs with the consistency that we needed before September 11," Tenet wrote.

Besides the Tenet memo, the CIA released fuller versions of several other documents that had been released earlier, the Washington Times reports.

"The events of 9/11 will be forever seared into the memories of all Americans who bore witness to the single greatest tragedy to befall our homeland in recent history," the CIA said in a memo accompanying the new documents.

"The documents released today reflect differing views formed roughly a decade ago within CIA about the agency’s performance prior to 9/11."

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The CIA was stretched too thin in the years before 9/11, its coffers bankrupted by a Clinton administration that refused to let the agency prioritize its anti-terror work, former director George Tenet argued in a startling 2005 memo declassified Friday.
cia, chief, george tenet, memo, clinton, administration, intelligence, terror, 911
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2015-42-12
Friday, 12 Jun 2015 10:42 PM
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