The Clinton administration had bankrupted the intelligence community and refused to let the CIA prioritize anti-terrorism over other major priorities in the late 1990s, leaving the agency stretched too thin in the days ahead of the 2001 terrorist attacks, former Director George J. Tenet said in a 2005 document declassified Friday.
Mr. Tenet, who was head of the agency at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks and has taken severe criticism for not anticipating and heading them off, said in the document that he took the threat of Osama bin Laden very seriously, and put major effort into trying to penetrate al Qaeda, beginning as far back as 1998.
In one revelation, Mr. Tenet says those efforts averted off an earlier “major attack” planned by al Qaeda for some time in 1999 or 2000. The document gives no other details.
The document was a response to an inspector general’s draft report that had accused Mr. Tenet of failing to give al Qaeda enough attention in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks. But Mr. Tenet said he did take steps, amid all the other work CIA was also required to do.