World

Former CIA director's memoir stirs controversy

A tell-all memoir written by former CIA director George Tenet claims the U.S. ignored clear warnings before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and then walked blindly into the war in Iraq.

A tell-all memoir written by former CIA director George Tenet claims the U.S. ignored clear warnings before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and then walked blindly into the war in Iraq.

In At the Centre of the Storm, which goes on sale Monday, Tenet also argues that the U.S. administration did not debate Iraq's threat to America before launching the war.

"This is a book that has report after report of what can only be seen by the public as mismanagement and misadventure here at the White House," said CBC journalist Henry Champ, reporting from Washington.

Tenet writes that the White House focused on war in Iraq even before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He also asserts that there were numerous occasions when aides to Vice-President Dick Cheney and former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld inserted what Tenet called "crap" justification for a possible conflict with Iraq, said Champ.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice disputed Tenet's claim thatPresident GeorgeW. Bush's administration, before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, never had a serious debate about whether Iraq posed an imminent threat or whether to tighten existing sanctions.

"The president started a discussion practically on the day that he took power about how to enhance sanctions against Iraq," she said. "In his first press conference, he said the sanctions had become Swiss cheese."

A Tenet associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the book's release, said Tenet was not talking about improving sanctions, but rather the debate about the wisdom of going to war.

The associate said those debates did not happen in the presence of Tenet or other senior CIA officials, despite their participation in numerous discussions in the White House's situation room.

Tenet was CIA director between July 1997 and July 2004.

With files by the Associated Press

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