WASHINGTON # In a speech Thursday, CIA Director George Tenet will defend his embattled agency’s prewar judgments about Iraqi weapons and try to clear up mistaken impressions of U.S. intelligence on Libya’s and Iran’s nuclear programs, U.S. officials said.
Tenet is scheduled to speak Thursday morning at his alma mater, Georgetown University, the CIA announced. U.S. officials said the speech was scheduled on short notice.
Tenet also will warn Americans that intelligence is not a “crystal ball,” officials said.
The speech will give Tenet a chance to respond to last week’s Senate testimony from former top U.S. weapons inspector David Kay, who was critical of intelligence given to the Bush administration leading up to the war.
Kay told a Senate panel his team, the Iraq Survey Group, hasn’t found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and said he didn’t believe significant stockpiles of such weapons would be found.
“It turns out we were all wrong, and that is most disturbing,” Kay said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing during which he called for an independent probe of the apparent intelligence failure
President Bush announced Monday that he would appoint a presidential commission to to review U.S. intelligence on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Kay put the blame firmly on the shoulders of U.S. intelligence, rather than the White House, for statements by Bush and others predicting weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq.
“It will be a long speech,” one U.S. official said about Tenet’s response.
The official said Tenet will “correct what’s wrong about the public perceptions” on what U.S. intelligence did and did not say about Iraqi weapons programs and will give his take on where the search for weapons now stands.
“He will convey the picture that those who say the work is 85 percent done are 100 percent wrong,” the senior official said. Kay has said the Iraq Survey Group has completed about 85 percent of its mission.
CIA officials have said the group under its new director, Charles Duelfer, has millions of pages of documents to translate and thousands of Iraqi scientists, former officials and others to interview.
Tenet also will respond to Kay’s statements that the CIA was apparently wrong about how advanced Libya and Iran’s nuclear programs were, officials said.
They said the agency had detailed knowledge about those nations’ programs.
The officials said Libya decided to give up its program, in part, after hearing what the CIA knew about it.