By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Kentucky U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning harshly criticized CIA Director George Tenet Wednesday for telling a Senate committee that Bush administration officials have made inaccurate statements about the threat by Iraq.
Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that on more than one occasion he has noted questionable statements in defense of war by Vice President Dick Cheney.
Bunning, a Southgate Republican, rebuked Tenet during a Wednesday morning conference call with Kentucky reporters.
"Knowing what I know about George Tenet, he is covering his ass," Bunning said. "I'm sorry, but that's the way I've felt about him the last 10 years."
Bunning said he believes Tenet should be replaced as the director of the intelligence agency he has overseen since 1997. Bunning pointed out that he has called for him to be removed within the past few weeks.
But Bunning said he also has called for Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to be replaced, "and he is still chief of the Federal Reserve."
Though Bunning has long been a critic of Tenet, the senator might be particularly sensitive about Tenet's criticism of Cheney.
Cheney and Bunning are scheduled to leave Washington together on Air Force Two - the vice presidential plane - and fly to Northern Kentucky for a Friday night campaign fund-raiser.
Bunning said he hopes to raise between $200,000 and $300,000 at the event, which is set for 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cincinnati Hilton Airport hotel in Florence.
"I'm looking forward to the vice president's appearance," Bunning said, adding there is a chance they could be late if an expected Senate vote on the budget is delayed Friday afternoon.
Bunning, who is running for a second Senate term this year, said the plane is scheduled to leave Washington at 4:30 p.m.
During the conference call, Bunning said he would also consider supporting legislation that would force Major League Baseball to implement a stronger drug testing policy designed to detect performance-enhancing steroids.
"It's about time," said Bunning, a former major league pitcher and member of baseball's Hall of Fame.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told major league players' union chief Donald Fehr Wednesday that if the league and players can't come up with a comprehensive plan, Congress will.
"Your failure to commit to addressing this issue straight on and immediately will motivate this committee to search for legislative remedies," McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, told Fehr during a hearing on the subject.
Bunning said players using illegal steroids are "cheating" and hurting the credibility of the game.
"We've given the players' union ample time to deal with this problem," Bunning said.
The San Francisco Chronicle, quoting information it said was provided to federal investigators, reported last week that steroids were given to several high-profile baseball players, including Barry Bonds.
At 37, Bonds, a San Francisco Giants outfielder, broke the single-season home run record in 2001 with 73 homers.
Bunning said a decade earlier, when Bonds was considered to be of prime playing age, he hit far fewer home runs.
In 1991, when Bonds was 27, he hit 25 home runs. A year later at age 28 he hit 34.
"Some people get to wonder if that is legitimate or illegitimate," Bunning said.
The Associated Press contributed. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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