Tenet resigned from the committee when President Clinton took office to join the national security transition team. Soon, he became senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council, where he dealt with issues such as setting confidential intelligence priorities in the post-Cold War era, and instituted new measures to help the FBI and CIA work together to catch spies. When John Deutch was appointed CIA director in 1995, he chose Tenet as his deputy director.
When Deutch resigned in December 1996 under a cloud of controversy over alleged mishandling of classified information, Clinton nominated one of his advisers, Anthony Lake. But Lake withdrew his name after opposition to him in Senate confirmation hearings. Clinton nominated Tenet, who was unanimously confirmed.
During his tenure as CIA director, Tenet has faced an ongoing challenge of restoring morale to an agency racked by scandal and whose mission had been questioned since the fall of the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The shadow of Aldrich Ames, a counterintelligence official who pleaded guilty in 1994 to spying for the KGB, was still hanging over the CIA. Tenet also faced criticism for the agency's handling of an internal investigation of Deutch.
In 1996, as Deutch was leaving office, the CIA discovered that he was keeping some classified material on his home computer, and officials did not tell the Justice Department for more than a year. Deutch was not prosecuted, but Tenet suspended his security clearances indefinitely. Tenet insisted his office did not hold up the investigation, and established a special panel within the CIA to investigate the Deutch case. Clinton pardoned Deutch in his final days as president.
Media Shy, Laid Back
Though he rarely grants media interviews, Tenet is known in the CIA for his laid-back demeanor — and for his habit of bouncing a basketball through the halls of the agency headquarters.
At one point in his career, officials thought Tenet would be sidelined due to health concerns when he suffered a heart attack while working at the White House during the early Clinton years. But Tenet lost weight and started a new exercise regimen that included almost daily jogs on the grounds of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.
Tenet and his wife, Stephanie, the daughter of a former U.S. foreign service officer, have one teenage son, John Michael.