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Shelby denies Tenet's claim

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Former CIA director George Tenet says in his new book that U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby sought "dirt" on Tenet's former boss and colleague, Anthony Lake, when Lake was an embattled nominee to head the CIA.

Shelby, an outspoken critic of Tenet after the Sept. 11 attacks, denied ever making such a request.

In his book released Monday, Tenet mentions actions taken by Shelby, a Republican who become chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee as President Clinton was trying to get Lake confirmed as the new CIA director.

Tenet, acting CIA director at the time of Lake's confirmation process, writes that Shelby approached him and said, "If you have any dirt on Tony Lake, I sure would like to have it."

Tenet writes that he was left speechless by Shelby's "brazen remark" about Tenet's friend and former boss.

Shelby said that the conversation never took place and called Tenet "one of the biggest liars around."

Tenet writes that Shelby reviewed Lake's raw FBI file and his staff asked National Security Agency employees if they had any "derogatory information" on Lake.

Shelby said that part is true and that it was the committee's job to do a background check on someone being considered for the top intelligence job in the country.

Lake ultimately withdrew his nomination. Tenet was confirmed as CIA director in July 1997 with Shelby's approval.

Their relationship soured and Shelby was very critical of "intelligence lapses" after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

One of his final acts on the Senate Intelligence Committee was to cite Tenet and five other intelligence officials for mistakes that led to the attacks.

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Information from: The Birmingham News

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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