Few Washington insiders seemed prepared last week to accept the claim that George Tenet was resigning from his post as CIA director for “personal reasons.”
Tenet and his agency have been under fire in recent months from critics who say the CIA supplied false intelligence used by the Bush administration to justify last year’s invasion of Iraq. According to critics, the CIA incorrectly suggested that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. The agency has also come under scrutiny from lawmakers who say it failed to do enough to stop the attacks of September 11, 2001.
But since last week’s announcement, Jewish communal leaders and Israeli officials, as well as former U.S. diplomats, have been praising Tenet’s tenure at the CIA and the unprecedented role the agency played in the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
“There was no way I could be credible on issues of security,” said Edward Walker, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel at the time. “We needed a guy like George to bring the parties around to the point that they could even talk to each other.”
Tenet also has been credited with improving ties between American and Israeli intelligence services.
“We see him as a good and true friend of Israel,” said Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the United States.