Devotion to Duty
The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI)* served as the head of CIA and the Intelligence Community. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, DCI George Tenet was largely responsible for identifying the terrorists and for planning actions against them. For the latter task, he relied specifically on CIA’s ties to Afghan enemies of al-Qa’ida and the Taliban.
A New York native born to Greek immigrant parents, DCI Tenet was a leader whose warmth and concern for others earned him the respect and affection of those he led. His boundless energy allowed him to meet the grueling pace of wartime operations. At posts overseas, he would insist on personally greeting every officer, no matter how long or crowded his own day had been. At Headquarters, Tenet visited officers in the Counterterrorism Center—in part to hear the latest developments, but also to make sure they knew he stood with them and appreciated their sacrifices. One CIA officer described Tenet as “the type of person you always wanted to say ‘yes’ to.” He considered all points of view before making a decision; once it was made, it was final. George Tenet was key to mobilizing and guiding the Agency’s comprehensive response to September 11th.
*In 2004, President Bush signed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act that restructured the Intelligence Community, abolishing the position of Director of Central Intelligence and creating a separate position, the Director of National Intelligence, to oversee the Intelligence Community.