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Senior CIA anti-terrorism officer resigns

Agency considered disciplinary action


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senior CIA anti-terrorism officer Michael Scheuer, who publicly criticized the agency's handling of the war on terrorism, resigned Thursday but said he wasn't forced out despite the fact the CIA was considering disciplinary action against him.

The 22-year CIA veteran who once headed the Osama bin Laden unit, resigned effective Friday, according to Christina Davidson, the editor of his book, "Imperial Hubris."

Earlier this year, the CIA gave Scheuer permission to publish the book under the name "Anonymous" and to conduct interviews for it without revealing his identity. The book is critical of how the United States is fighting the war on terrorism.

Davidson said Scheuer's decision to resign followed a "cordial" meeting with senior CIA officials on Tuesday.

"My decision is entirely my own," Scheuer said in a statement. "I have been in no way forced to this decision by the CIA. ... I have concluded that there has not been adequate national debate over the nature of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and the forces he leads and inspires, and the nature and dimensions of intelligence reform needed to address that threat. It is my intention to articulate a series of views in the hope of producing a more substantive debate than what has heretofore occurred."

CNN was one of the news organizations that interviewed the author in shadow. Eventually his name became public.

When Scheuer began publicly criticizing the Iraq war this past summer, the agency told him he would have to provide a detailed outline of the issues he would address during each interview and each request would have to be submitted at least five business days beforehand. CIA insider slams Bush anti-terror policies)

Mark Mansfield, the CIA spokesman at the time, said the agency was merely "enforcing a policy that applies to all" CIA employees.

The CIA was considering disciplinary action against Scheuer because it said he violated the agency's regulations on contacts with the media, a U.S. intelligence official said earlier this week.

start quote...There has not been adequate national debate over the nature of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and the forces he leads and inspires, and the nature and dimensions of intelligence reform needed to address that threat.end quote
-- Michael Scheuer

"Mike is not authorized to speak for the CIA," the intelligence official said. "He knows the procedures governing relations between the agency and contacts with the press," and he "decided not to follow them."

The official said the agency has several options it could take against Scheuer, including dismissal.

Davidson said the CIA had denied every interview request Scheuer had submitted since the agency began enforcing its rules.

"He's followed every rule to the 'T,' " Davidson told CNN. She said Scheuer was asked to revise interview requests a number of times -- "a time-consuming effort," she said -- but still ended up having the request turned down.

Davidson maintained that the constraints put on Scheuer went beyond what is expected of other CIA employees.

CNN producer Henry Schuster contributed to this report.


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