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Senator says CIA chief should be replaced

Shelby: "I think we could do better."  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says that, if the decision were his, he would fire CIA Director George Tenet.

Asked Sunday if he has confidence in Tenet in the wake of failures by the intelligence community to piece together information that might have alerted authorities to the September 11 terror attacks, Sen. Richard Shelby said the decision about whether to replace Tenet was President Bush's.

But, the Republican from Alabama told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," "Would I keep him? Absolutely not."

He added: "I think we could do better. I've always thought that."

In response, White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan said, "The president has full confidence in Director Tenet and appreciates all the changes he's implemented since September 11th to better gather intelligence and share it with other agencies."

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, who is also a member of the Intelligence Committee, said he supported Tenet. "I think George is doing a credible job," Bayh said.

Still, he said, the country's intelligence-gathering capabilities need to be revamped. "I really do think we need a thorough, top-to-bottom reorganization improvement of our ability to collect information, both internationally and domestically. If we don't do that, then we're really not going to be in as good a position to protect America, regardless of whoever is heading these agencies."

The Senate and House intelligence committees are investigating the government's failure to find out about the September 11 plot.

Tenet was appointed to the job by President Clinton and has been retained by Bush.




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