Did Tenet Resign Because of Leak Scandal?

Vice President Cheney’s claim in Tuesday’s New York Times that he learned of Valerie Plame’s status from former CIA Director George Tenet, draws our attention back to an odd confluence of events in the first week of June 2004.

Within the span of four days in June, Tenet met with President Bush to submit his resignation, the White House announced that President Bush had consulted an outside attorney to represent him in the Fitzgerald investigation, and it was reported that Vice President Cheney had been interviewed by Fitzgerald. In that order.

June 2, 2004: Bush speaks at Air Force Academy; Tenet meets him upon arrival at White House to tell him that he was going to resign.

June 2, 2004: McClellan tells press the night of June 2 that Bush hired an attorney.

June 3, 2004: In press gaggle, McClellan notes that Tenet called Card the afternoon of the 2nd to ask for meeting with Bush. Tenet and Bush meet for 45 minutes.

June 5, 2004: New York Times reports that Cheney was interviewed by Fitzgerald.

Press coverage of Tenet’s resignation noted that the timing seemed odd. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, commented “I can’t remember any resignation that has struck me as more startling than this one,” she said. “I suspect there is going to be more of a story to tell than just personal reasons.”


What could account for this confluence of events? Had Tenet found himself in the uncomfortable position of having to tell Fitzgerald some damaging information about the Vice President and thought he needed to leave the Administration because of it? Did Tenet deliver some bad news to Bush the evening he met with him that would prompt the White House to feel the need to announce that the President had sought outside legal counsel? It’s speculation, but there is no denying that the timing is curious.

— Jennifer Palmieri