George Tenet, CIA Director, Steps Down
George Tenet, CIA Director, Steps Down
Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet
to Employees of the Central Intelligence Agency and the US Intelligence
Source: CIA, June 3, 2004.
For the past nine years,
I have been privileged to be part of a great American family—the family of
American Intelligence. I have lived in the heart of the CIA family. In that long
and eventful time, we have shared moments of success and disappointment, of
happiness and sorrow.
Today, I share with you
news that I gave the President last evening. I have decided to step down as
Director of Central Intelligence, effective July 11th, the seventh anniversary
of my being sworn in as DCI.
I did not make this
decision quickly or easily. But I know in my heart that the time is right to
move on to the next phase of our lives.
In an organization as
vital as this one there is never a good time to leave. There will always be
critical work to be done, threats to be dealt with, and challenges that demand
every ounce of energy that a DCI can muster.
We have thrown our
hearts into rebuilding our Intelligence Community and I have been richly
rewarded with the gratification of working with the finest group of men and
women our nation can produce.
I want to say a word of
special thanks to President Bush. On entering office he immediately recognized
the importance of rebuilding our intelligence capabilities. He spends time with
us almost every day. He has shown great care for our officers. He is a great
champion for the men and women of US Intelligence and a constant source of
It has been an honor
for me to serve as his Director of Central Intelligence.
And I am especially
proud of the leadership team that we have assembled in the Intelligence
Community and which will continue fighting the good fight long after I have
taken my leave.
I want to thank Mike
Hayden, and Jim Clapper, Jake Jacoby, Pete Teets, John Russack and Tom Fingar
for their friendship and support.
As I look back on how
the Intelligence Community has evolved over the past decade, there is much to be
First as Deputy
Director of Central Intelligence, and then as Director, I have had the chance to
be part of a massive transformation of our intelligence capabilities. That
revolution may not make headlines, but it will continue to benefit our country
for years to come.
has, after the drought of the post-Cold War years, begun to receive the
investments—in people and dollars and attention—that we need to meet the
security challenges of a new century and a new world.
You, the men and women
of American Intelligence, have put those investments to powerful use. And I
believe the American people will continue to demand that this great community of
patriots receive the funding and support that you so richly deserve.
At CIA, we have made
good progress in rebuilding the Clandestine Service. We have expanded and
empowered our corps of analysts. We have restructured and streamlined our
support operations. We have developed and acquired the technologies on which
intelligence and espionage depend. With new schools and training facilities, we
have sharpened instruction for each of our core professions. We are recruiting
the finest men and women in our history in record numbers.
These initiatives—and I
can talk of only a few—complement those of other intelligence agencies, and our
enduring efforts to build what we call ourselves, what I believe us to be: a
true community, working more closely than ever with our partners in the military
and in law enforcement, and overseas.
We have done these
things together—not out of some bureaucratic imperative, but to be better at our
mission of protecting American families and the freedoms that make America worth
For many years now, we
have been at war with a deadly threat to the United States and its values: the
threat of terrorism. Like other wars, it has been a struggle of battles won and,
tragically, battles lost. You have acted with focus and courage through it all,
before and after 9/11.
What you have achieved
in this fight against a clever, fanatical enemy, around the world—the cells
destroyed, the conspiracies defeated, the innocent lives saved—will for most
Americans be forever unknown and uncounted. But for those privileged to observe
these often hidden successes, they will be an unforgettable testament to your
dedication and your valor.
On other issues, too,
you have done magnificent work. Outstanding support to American forces—not only
in Iraq and Afghanistan, but around the world. Remarkable successes against
weapons proliferators and drug traffickers. Unique insights into the full range
of dangers and opportunities that face the United States beyond its borders.
In short: each day,
here and abroad, from diverse backgrounds, with varied skills, you come together
for a single purpose: to give our country an essential advantage—in its
understanding of the conditions in the world, and in its ability to change those
conditions for the better.
To be sure, there is
much yet to do. But there is a strong foundation of talents and resources on
which to build.
This I say with
exceptional pride: The Central Intelligence Agency and the American Intelligence
Community are stronger now than they were when I became DCI seven years ago, and
they will be stronger tomorrow than they are today.
That is not my legacy.
It is yours.
You have done the hard
work, turning new ideas into actions, and new recruits into seasoned officers.
You have taken bold risks analytically, operationally, and with powerful
As I often tell younger
and older officers—we have put this Agency and our Community on an irreversible
course. Directors are stewards of a great institution for very limited periods
of time. You are the owners of the institution and in your hands we have placed
enormous confidence and trust. I want you to always believe in yourselves and
the power that you have - each and every one of you—to ensure that we stay on
course—ensure that our families are taken care of—young officers are nourished—and
our mission come first always.
Our record is not
without flaws. The world of Intelligence is a uniquely human endeavor and as in
all human endeavors we all understand the need to always do better. We are not
perfect but one of our best kept secrets is that we are very, very, very good.
shortcomings, the American people know that we constantly evaluate our
performance, always strive to do better, and always tell the truth. These are
our values as professional intelligence officers. We get up every day with only
one purpose—to protect this country and its families. And I believe to the depth
of my soul that Americans are proud of each and every one of you. They have said
thank you to me in Peoria, Illinois, in Norman, Oklahoma, in College Station,
Texas, in Rochester, New York—everywhere I have ever had a chance to speak about
speak about the wonderful men and women that work here.
When I tell people
being Director of Central Intelligence is the best job in government—and the
best job I will ever have—I say it because of you. Because of your passion, your
creativity, your spirit and everything you do every day in taking risks and
meeting perils around the world.
Here at CIA, I have had
the greatest of colleagues, starting with John McLaughlin—a man of magical
warmth, wit—you know his nickname is Merlin—wisdom, and decency, the finest
deputy and friend I could ever have and he will be a great acting director.
This is the most
difficult decision I have ever had to make. And while Washington and the media
will put many different faces on the decision—it was a personal decision—and had
only one basis in fact—the well being of my wonderful family. Nothing more and
Nine years ago when I
became the deputy director, a wonderful young man sitting in the front row was
in the second grade. He came right up to my belt—I just saw a picture of the day
Judge Freeh swore me in—and he's grown up to be . . .
Anyway, the point is,
John Michael is going to be a senior next year. I'm going to be a senior with
him in high school.
We're going to go to
class together. We're going to party together. I'm going to learn how to instant
message his friends—that would be an achievement!
You've just been a
great son, and I'm now going to be a great dad. Thank God you look like your
mother. You're damned good looking.
The most important
woman in my life, who I refer to as the home minister . . . look, if I could
tell you the number of times I get an elbow in the middle of the night about
what I've forgot to do for families at the CIA and our spouses and for our kids
. . . honey, you'll be the best first lady this institution has ever had, and I
love you. You are terrific.
You have all given us
so much warmth, so much support and encouragement. The most difficult part of
this decision was knowing that I would not be here with you every day—in our
offices, the cafeteria, conference rooms or the gym—but I do hope I have earned
a lifetime membership.
It is difficult in
knowing that I will not be as directly connected to the thousands of men and
women overseas who along with their families sacrifice so much to protect our
But there is also great
joy in knowing that I will never be far away in heart and spirit from all of you.
You will have no greater advocate wherever I may be for you and your families.
So, I wanted to see you
all today—to tell you personally about all of this. Fully recognizing that we
will have more time over the next few weeks to be together in your workspaces so
that we can thank you for what you have done for us.
And so, as I tell you
about my plans to depart—with sadness, but with my head held very, very high, as
yours should always be because what you do is critical to everything our nation
stands for—its goodness, its decency and its courage.
I want to thank you for
the support you have given me and my family. For being colleagues and friends.
You will always be in our thoughts and prayers. It has been an honor for us—for
Stephanie, for John Michael—to be by your side.
It has been the
greatest privilege of my life to be your Director.
May God always bless
you and bless your families.
As Dick Helms used to
say, let's get on with it and get back to work.