CIA head George Tenet‘s surprise resignation was in fact motivated by family reasons, but the political realities of the past six months and the next month and a half helped make his decision a little bit easier.
Tenet started getting calls last week from several Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee who had been reading the committee’s report on intelligence failures leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to a Senate Intelligence staffer, the Democrats told Tenet that their support of him probably could not be sustained given what the draft report had to say about the CIA’s performance a little over a year ago.
That report, which is currently being vetted by the CIA and by intelligence committee staff, and which may be declassified before the end of the month, was one reason why Tenet may have accelerated his retirement plans.
Beyond the Senate report and another intelligence committee report in the House, there is also the upcoming 9/11 Commission final report, which will be handed in to the White House sometime in July and which will also have to be vetted for classified material by the intelligence community. The fact that Tenet’s people may be called upon to vet reports critical of their own performance and his as well might have been too embarrassing for the agency and its long-time director.
The Democratic National Committee is being squeezed so tightly for cash for its convention in Boston, that it is penalizing the very people who will be there to make them look good: the press.
On Thursday, most newspapers and TV outlets learned that their offices will not be quartered within the security compound of the Fleet Center, where the Democratic Convention will be held.
Instead, for budget reasons, the DNC was giving up its 54,000-square-foot space originally intended for the media center, and placing the journalists in a 42,000-square-foot facility about a block from the Fleet Center.
The decision saves the DNC about $2 million, and means that journalists, cameramen and others associated with the media will most likely have to endure security check-ins at least twice a day, as the media center will be outside the convention’s security perimeter.
The decision to save money came as a surprise to most of the media elites who only a month ago had complained about the poor facilities the Democrats were giving them. The new media space must be adapted for more than 1,000 journalists and their support staff. “It’s worse than what we were giving them six weeks ago,” says a DNC events planner in Boston. “But we can’t afford to give them anything else. We need to find savings someplace. We’re already looking at cost overruns for the week.”
The announced plans for the press working area are yet another indication that the DNC is not pulling in the kind of money it claimed to be raising for its Boston convention. And it also appears to reveal the growing rift between the party and Boston’s city government. The larger building the DNC had been considering within the security perimeter was found for it by the Boston mayor’s office. But that space would have required almost $2 million in renovations to make it usable for the press.
“I don’t get the impression that the Boston Democratic establishment is bending over backwards for us,” says the DNC event planner. “As things have moved along, the relationship between us and them has gotten worse.”