Senate committee roasts CIA chief

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The Independent US

George Tenet, the director of the CIA, warned yesterday that al-Qa'ida was still in existence and that the network was probably planning more attacks against high-profile US targets, including the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Despite the rout of the Taliban and the capture of 1,000 suspected operatives in 60 countries, Mr Tenet told a Senate committee yesterday that he feared the group might attempt "unconventional" attacks. The greatest risk lay in biological weapons, but al-Qa'ida was also pursuing chemical and nuclear weapons.

Mr Tenet's appearance before the Senate intelligence committee was his first major statement since 11 September. He rebutted criticism of US intelligence for its inability to prevent the attacks.

"These attacks were so well-planned and so well-executed," said Richard Shelby, the Republican senator from Alabama who has demanded that Mr Tenet be sacked. "Why were we utterly unaware of 11 September?"

Mr Tenet said the CIA had prevented attacks on "three or four" US facilities abroad but had never had what he termed "texture" on the attack on the American mainland. He said the CIA was not shocked that the attacks were made but was shocked at the targets.