Answering questions before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Tenet confirmed that an article in November's Weekly Standard was written by Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith.

The magazine claimed to have obtained a leaked top-secret document, but the CIA chief admitted the third highest Pentagon official wrote it specifically for publication.

Vice President Dick Cheney then cited the leaked unapproved document as "the best source of information" on cooperation between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.

Question time

Michigan's Senator Carl Levin asked the CIA director: "Did the CIA agree with the contents of the Feith document?"

"Senator, we did not clear the document. We did not agree with the way the data was characterised in that document."

"Senator, we did not clear the document. We did not agree with the way the data was characterised in that document"

George Tenet,
CIA director

Tenet added that the Pentagon had also disavowed the Feith document.

He had planned to speak to Vice President Cheney about the matter.

But in an hour of questioning, Tenet said other officials also chose to ignore agency advice.

Embarrassing revelations

Speaking to Senator Edward Kennedy, Tenet said there had been instances when he warned administration officials they were overstating the threat posed by Iraq.

Tenet had personally told the vice president he was wrong to say that two trailers recovered in Iraq were "conclusive evidence" that Hussein had a biological weapons programme.

Nevertheless, Cheney made the assertion in a 22 January 2003 interview with National Public Radio.

Nearly all analysts now believe the "mobile biological-weapons facilities" were in fact used for making hydrogen gas to fill weather balloons.