Former CIA Director George Tenet has defended the integrity of his agency's intelligence gaps before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and - later - in the run-up to the Iraq War.

In an interview broadcast Sunday evening on CBS television, Tenet said that by mid-2001 he was so alarmed by intelligence that a major attack was coming that he asked for an immediate meeting to brief then-National Security Advisor and now Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In 2004, an independent bi-partisan commission which investigated the 9/11 attacks accused the CIA of being bureaucratic and failing to recognize al-Qaida as being a real threat.

On Iraq, Tenet said there were questions in the Bush administration about how to invade Iraq, but no questions about whether it should be done.

Tenet explained the 2002 pre-war intelligence reports that said Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction by saying analysts drew the conclusion from technical data. He said the error was a painful experience for the intelligence community.

The former intelligence director admitted he had used the phrase "slam dunk" (a certainty) in a conversation with President Bush about weapons of mass destruction, but he said the remark was later mischaracterized as an assurance that Iraq possessed WMD's.

Tenet said he actually told the president that it was a "slam dunk" that the CIA could improve a report it had written on the subject of WMD.

Earlier Sunday, in a separate interview on another network (CNN), Rice rejected assertions by Tenet that President Bush came into office with plans to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Separately, Tenet denied allegations of torture against terror suspects, but he said what he calls "enhanced interrogation" techniques have saved lives and disrupted terrorist plots.