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Tenet defends Iraq WMD intelligence

Tenet: " ... we will neither be completely right nor completely wrong."

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George Tenet summarizes CIA's pre-war intelligence on Iraq.
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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's comments on prewar intelligence.
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Tony Blair's confirmation of a British inquiry into prewar intelligence.
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(CNN) -- CIA Director George Tenet on Thursday defended the prewar U.S. intelligence on Iraq, saying the United States needs more time to fully account for Iraq's suspected weapons programs and denying that political pressure bent analysts' conclusions. The following are some key points from Tenet's speech.

Pre-war intelligence

"The question being asked about Iraq in the starkest terms is, were we right or were we wrong? In the intelligence business, you are almost never completely wrong or completely right. That applies in full to the question of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. And like many of the toughest intelligence challenges, when the facts of Iraq are all in, we will neither be completely right nor completely wrong."

Influence of politics on intelligence

"I can tell you with certainty that the president of the United States gets his intelligence from one person and one community: me. And he has told me firmly and directly that he's wanted it straight and he's wanted it honest and he's never wanted the facts shaded."

Unfinished search for WMD

"As we meet here today, the Iraq Survey Group is continuing its important search for people and data. And despite some public statements, we are nowhere near 85 percent finished. The men and women who work in that dangerous environment are adamant about that fact. Any call that I make today is necessarily provisional. Why? Because we need more time and we need more data."

Imminent threat

"Let me be clear: Analysts differed on several important aspects of these programs and those debates were spelled out in the estimate.

"They never said there was an imminent threat. Rather, they painted an objective assessment for our policy-makers of a brutal dictator who was continuing his efforts to deceive and build programs that might constantly surprise us and threaten our interests. No one told us what to say or how to say it."

Human intelligence gathering

"To be sure, we had difficulty penetrating the Iraqi regime with human sources. And I want to be very clear about something: A blanket indictment of our human intelligence around the world is dead wrong. We have spent the last seven years rebuilding our clandestine service. As director of central intelligence, this has been my highest priority."

U.S. intelligence successes

"A CIA spy led us to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11th attacks.

"Al Qaeda's operational chief Nashiri, the man who planned and executed the bombing of the USS Cole, was located and arrested because of our human reporting.

"Human sources were critical to the capture of Hambali, the chief terrorist in southeast Asia, who organized and killed hundreds of people when they bombed a nightclub in Bali.

"So when you hear pundits say that we have no human intelligence capability, they don't know what they're talking about"

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