Rumsfeld's faint praise for Tenet

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The Independent US

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, damned the outgoing CIA director with the faintest of praise yesterday after suggesting better intelligence might have thwarted the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, damned the outgoing CIA director with the faintest of praise yesterday after suggesting better intelligence might have thwarted the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Without mentioning George Tenet by name, Mr Rumsfeld - as is often his habit - couched his criticism in the form of a question: "Is it a terrible failure we did not have the intelligence to prevent the September 11 attacks?"

Responding to his rhetorical question, Mr Rumsfeld declared: "We did not have a source inside the group of people that had planned and executed those attacks. Had we had a source inside there, we undoubtedly would have been able to stop it. We did not."

He added it would have been a "big order" for US intelligence agencies to penetrate every conceivable terrorist organisation and that was the rationale behind taking a more hawkish approach to disrupting terrorists before they strike.

His comments were made as he took part in a question and answer session aboard the USS Essex, in port at Singapore, ahead of giving a speech to an international security conference. He warned: "We have to be realistic and expect there will be additional successful attacks."

When asked whether he thought there had been enough intelligence information to prevent the September 11 attacks, Mr Rumsfeld replied that the congressionally chartered commission investigating the matter had not finished its work.

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