I have no inside sources on why George Tenet just resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. But I can think of three reasons for which he ought to have resigned.
First, it was announced on Wednesday that President George W. Bush had retained counsel with regard to the Plame investigation. Last summer someone in the White House or close to it leaked to the press that Valerie Plame was a secret operative for the CIA, specializing in countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
This leak aimed at punishing her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, for having gone public about his mission to Niger in spring of 2002, in which he disproved the story that Iraq tried to buy yellowcake uranium from that country. Despite Wilson’s report to the CIA, requested by VP Dick Cheney, and against Tenet’s strong advice, Bush put the allegation into his 2003 State of the Union address.
Tenet should have resigned when Bush insisted on trumpeting an Iraqi nuclear weapons program at a time when Tenet was denying there was any such thing. (Tenet did think Iraq had chemical and biological programs, about which he was wrong). The nuclear claim helped convince the country to go to war. It was false. Tenet knew it was false. He told Bush that. Bush either knew it was false and said it anyway, or he disbelieved Tenet. Either thing should have produced Tenet’s resignation.
That Bush retained counsel suggests that he intends to continue to cover for the slime who outed Plame, thereby endangering the lives of dozens of key contacts in the Third World who had been seen hanging out with her over the years when she had a cover as an energy consultant. Bush can produce the perpetrator if he wants, but has decided not to.
So Tenet should resign over that.
Then, someone leaked to Ahmad Chalabi sensitive details of the the cryptography operations of US intelligence against Iran. The leaker is probably a neocon with Defense Department links. Bush could also produce this person if he wanted to. He has not.
So Tenet should resign over Bush’s shocking disregard for national security.
Note that Plame’s portfolio was fighting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Someone in Bush’s circle set that effort back years by outing her. And note that having broken Iran’s code, the US was in a better position to monitor any Iranian efforts to develop WMD. Now that capability has been lost.
With all this brouhaha about fighting weapons of mass destruction proliferation, the Bush administration has actually set back those efforts horribly, for the purposes of petty political gain. It took us to war in Iraq on a WMD pretext. But that turns out to have been a scam on someone’s part, and we are much less safe now than before.