Profile: Former CIA Director George Tenet

A strong advocate of “enhanced interrogation techniques”

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The Independent US

Former CIA Director George Tenet has been widely criticised for failing to prevent 9/11 and asserting that weapons of mass destruction were present in Iraq before the 2003 US-led invasion. Although accused of underestimating the al-Qaeda threat, he has claimed that he did his utmost to highlight the threat of an attack to the White House and was repeatedly ignored.

A strong advocate of “enhanced interrogation techniques”, Mr Tenet has always held that they have been crucial for counter-terrorist organisations “because these are people that will never, ever, ever tell you a thing”. He disputes that the CIA ever tortured people, claiming the word itself is unhelpful in understanding the context of the actions the intelligence agency took.

Mr Tenet claims to know that the CIA’s methods have “disrupted [terrorist] plots”. Many of those that have read the report say evidence supporting this has been exaggerated and no terrorist plots have actually been stopped.

In July, the New York Times reported that Mr Tenet may have the most to lose if the torture report were to be published. They claim he, and other ex-CIA staff members, have set about developing their own challenge to its findings.


Mr Tenet left his job at the CIA in 2004. He went on to win the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award a civilian can get. This led some to question whether that may have influenced his decision not to criticise President Bush. Today, he advises corporations working with intelligence agencies and raises money for the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation.