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Archive for Sunday, February 8, 2004

Bush says CIA director’s job secure despite intelligence flaws

February 8, 2004

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— President Bush said Saturday that CIA Director George Tenet's job was not in jeopardy despite election-year questions about the accuracy of prewar intelligence on Iraq.

"I strongly believe the CIA is ably led by George Tenet," Bush said in an Oval Office interview to be broadcast today on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Asked whether Tenet's job was in jeopardy, Bush answered: "No, not at all, not at all," according to an excerpt of the interview provided by the network.

Bush pledged to cooperate with the commission he set up last week to examine intelligence on Iraq and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. "I will be glad to visit with them," the president said. "I will be glad to share with them knowledge. I will be glad to make recommendations, if they ask for some."

Bush also responded to concerns the commission was not required to complete its review until after the election in November. He said the panel needed time to do its work.

"There is going to be ample time for the American people to assess whether or not I made good calls, whether I used good judgment, whether or not I made the right decision in removing Saddam Hussein from power," Bush said. "I look forward to that debate."

The interview, Bush's first appearance on the news show, comes as his approval rating has dipped to 47 percent in an Associated Press-Ipsos poll taken in early February; that compares with 56 percent a month ago.

Polls indicate that Americans have become increasingly skeptical about the administration's case for war. David Kay recently resigned as the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq after concluding that Saddam did not have any stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons, and was not actively seeking nuclear weapons. "It turns out that we were all wrong, probably, in my judgment," Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Although Kay remains convinced that the war was justified, his findings undermined a key element of Bush's rationale for the invasion.

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