Brokaw Raises How Tenet 'Frustrated' That Reno Ruled 'Illegal' a CIA Plan to Kill bin Laden

On Monday's NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw gave a sentence to a criticism of the Clinton administration, by former CIA Director George Tenet, not mentioned in broadcast network evening newscast stories last week, or Monday night on ABC and CBS, nor on Sunday's two-part 60 Minutes interview -- all of which focused on Tenet's attacks on Bush officials. Brokaw relayed: “He said that he was frustrated during the Clinton administration because, he said, Attorney General Janet Reno had ruled that a CIA plan to assassinate Osama bin Laden was illegal.” Brokaw didn't raise that subject during his live Monday Today show session with Tenet about Tenet's book, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, but it could come up in part two set to air Tuesday morning on tape.

Brokaw had ridiculously implied on Friday's NBC Nightly News that conservatives who have cited former CIA director George Tenet's “slam dunk” comment about Iraq possessing WMD had, in fact, claimed that the comment was a prediction that the war itself against Iraq would be a “slam dunk.” Brokaw relayed how Tenet insisted “he was talking about assembling a stronger case to take to the public so it would have a better understanding of what the CIA believed to be true. He was not, he says, saying that a war against Iraq was a slam dunk.” (Brad Wilmouth's NewsBusters item)

Monday night, before mentioning Tenet's criticism of Reno, the NBC Nightly News ran excerpts from Brokaw's session with Tenet in which Brokaw asked Tenet about being “too easy please” the administration, about the Department of Defense's intelligence operation “working at opposite ends” from the CIA, whether Iraq is “lost,” whether there are al-Qaeda sleeper cell inside the U.S. and if there was a plan to attack the New York City subway.

Brokaw's April 30 NBC Nightly News remarks at the anchor desk, next to Brian Williams, after the highlights ran from his sit-down with Tenet:
“Other interesting material that came out of Tenet's book: He said that he was frustrated during the Clinton administration because, he said, Attorney General Janet Reno had ruled that a CIA plan to assassinate Osama bin Laden was illegal. He also said that in 1998 Saudi Arabia uncovered a plot to assassinate Vice President Gore during a planned visit to that country, but the Saudis delayed in telling the U.S. So Tenet flew to the kingdom to tell Saudi officials that is not what the U.S. expected from its friends. And finally, Tenet says that he likes President Bush, that he's a strong leader but he says he gives his people, simply, too much running room.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center