NY DAILY NEWSX-CIA DIRECTOR "AT THE CENTER OF THE STORY"Sat Apr 28, 2007 01:12
X-CIA DIRECTOR "AT THE CENTER OF THE STORY"
Team Bush fouled me
Ex-CIA boss charges White House twisted slam dunk comment
BY JAMES GORDON MEEK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
Posted Friday, April 27th 2007, 4:00 AM
Ex-CIA Director George Tenet
WASHINGTON - In his score-settling memoir, ex-CIA Director George Tenet blasts the Bush White House for manipulating his infamous "slam dunk" comment to scapegoat him for Iraq.
His book, "At the Center of the Storm," also seeks to shift the blame from his own agency to the FBI for not following leads that might have prevented 9/11.
Tenet, CIA chief from 1997 to 2004, says the White House leaked his remark to make it seem that he was claiming there was proof Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. What he really meant, he says, was that President Bush could make a "slam dunk case" to Americans for invading Iraq. "The hardest part," Tenet told CBS' "60 Minutes," in an interview being broadcast Sunday, was watching Vice President Cheney go on TV last year "and say, 'Well, George Tenet said slam dunk,' as if he needed me to say 'slam dunk' to go to war with Iraq."
Tenet said the administration hung him out to dry, ruining his career and his reputation.
"It's the most despicable thing that ever happened to me," he says on the program. "You don't do this. You don't throw somebody overboard just because it's a deflection. Is that honorable? It's not honorable to me."
In his book, due out Monday, Tenet spends an entire chapter denying that the CIA could have thwarted the Sept. 11 attacks, the Daily News has learned.
The chapter, titled "Missed Opportunities," takes the FBI to task for not chasing the CIA's strongest leads before the 2001 attacks.
That rankled FBI agents, who call Tenet's 575-page tome, written with Bill Harlow, "a novel."
At issue is the CIA's failure to watch-list two 9/11 hijackers who were in the U.S. for 16 months before they crashed a jet into the Pentagon.
Tenet says his staff thought three FBI agents embedded in the CIA's counterterrorism center had told the bureau's brass about Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. But two top FBI officials said the CIA blocked the sharing of info on the Al Qaeda thugs and the CIA didn't tell the FBI about them until Aug. 23, 2001.
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