LONDON -- The resignation of CIA Director George Tenet was seen by some in Europe as a sign that President Bush's grip on power was weakening and by others as a necessary sacrifice after US intelligence blunders.
''Five months before the presidential election, the resignation of a trusted aide of this caliber means a weakening for Bush," Germany's Handelsblatt economic daily said.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said in an editorial, ''The secret services chief had personally become a synonym for all the failures and lapses of American intelligence, whether it was the mistakes before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks or the recklessness with which questionable sources were tapped in connection with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction."
Tenet surprised many in Washington by announcing his resignation in an emotional address to CIA staff Thursday. Citing personal reasons, Tenet ended seven years as the CIA's director during two presidencies.
His decision came shortly before the expected release of several reports about intelligence failures by the CIA and others regarding the Sept. 11 attacks and erroneous prewar estimates about Saddam Hussein's weapons capabilities in Iraq.
''As far as I understand it, the decision of the CIA director has got absolutely nothing to do with Iraq, 9/11, or anything else," Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, a top Bush ally, said on British Broadcasting Corp. TV.
In Italy, which also backed Bush's Iraq policy, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini lauded Tenet's work.
But Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau daily said ''now that Bush's star is sinking in the polls, he [Tenet] has become a burden for his boss."
In Spain, the El Mundo newspaper carried an editorial cartoon showing Bush arriving in Europe aboard Air Force One, holding a disembodied head with a tag saying ''Tenet" hanging from it as European leaders watch, slightly bemused.
Former Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi, who before the war had advised the Pentagon about ousting Saddam and destroying his alleged chemical and biological weapons, sharply criticized Tenet.
In an interview with Associated Press Television News, Chalabi said Tenet's policies in Iraq in the past 10 years ''caused the death of hundreds of Iraqis" and that the CIA director had ''provided erroneous information about weapons of mass destruction to President Bush."
Recently, US officials bypassed Chalabi when forming a new Iraqi government and accused him of telling Iranian intelligence that the United States had broken Iran's secret codes.
In France, terrorism consultant Alexis Debat said Tenet had a reputation as a yes-man for Bush.
''He said what Bush wanted to hear," Debat said in an interview. ''The extent to which Tenet compromised his administration to retain the link with Bush is damning."
Two French newspapers, the left-leaning Liberation and the more conservative Le Figaro, said they believed the Bush administration had fired Tenet to pay for its ''fiasco" in Iraq.
Like Bush, Blair has been criticized for justifying the Iraq war by citing Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Coalition troops have failed to find any in Iraq.
The Independent newspaper in London, which strongly opposed the war, described Tenet's departure as a ''cheap sacrifice."
''His resignation lifts a weight of baggage from Mr. Bush," the paper said in an editorial. ''The more flak Mr. Tenet takes, the less falls on anyone else."
The Times of London newspaper pointed out the contrast in the fortunes of Tenet and John Scarlett, the author of a controversial, prewar British intelligence dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons.
Scarlett was chosen Thursday to head Britain's foreign intelligence agency MI6. Although the claims in the September 2002 dossier are in dispute, a judge last year decided the BBC had been wrong to report that officials had knowingly manipulated evidence.