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Monday, August 16, 2004

CNN > Lawmakers predict Goss' CIA confirmation

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Top lawmakers from both parties predicted Sunday that President Bush's nominee for CIA director, Rep. Porter Goss, would win confirmation despite misgivings among some Democrats that a politician should not fill the post.
Bush announced Tuesday that the 65-year-old Goss was his choice to replace George Tenet, who left the director's post in July. (Full story)
Goss, a Republican who was not running for re-election from his southwest Florida district, is a former Army intelligence officer and CIA operative. Until he stepped down following Bush's nomination, he had been chairman of the House Intelligence Committee since 1997.
His confirmation requires a majority of the GOP-controlled Senate.
Since the post was created in 1947, only one CIA director has come from the ranks of politicians -- George H.W. Bush, the president's father, who led the agency in 1976-77 and went on to become president 12 years later.
"I don't know of a better choice the president could pick at this point in time. He doesn't need any on-the-job training. He can take over that job tomorrow morning," Sen. John Warner of Virginia, Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CNN's "Late Edition."
Warner predicted the Senate would "act appropriately and confirm that nomination."
Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat of the Armed Services Committee, said he thought Goss was "clearly qualified" but was not the best pick for the job.
"There's a very big political aspect to that appointment and to what he would do in terms of advising the president," Levin said on "Late Edition."
"The question is whether or not he is going to give objective, independent, unvarnished assessments, not just to the president ... but also to the Congress, to the country and to the world."
Goss would get his vote, Levin said, "if he can satisfy me that despite being a highly partisan person and a very close political supporter of the president," he would confront the president when necessary.
Right fight, wrong fight
Democratic Rep. Jane Harman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said a partisan battle over Goss would be "the wrong fight" to have in the fall.
The "right fight," she said, would be over whether the White House and Congress are, "on a bipartisan basis, going to step up and fix problems that have been clearly identified by a number of very thoughtful investigations," including the Senate Intelligence Committee and the 9/11 commission.
"My view, and I said it personally to Porter Goss -- that my candidate to replace George Tenet was no one. And what I meant by that is that we should revamp the job first" as part of an overhaul of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, she said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Harman said Goss "will probably be confirmed" after "a tough set of confirmation hearings." The House does not vote on presidential appointments.
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC that he and his Democratic vice chairman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, want to expedite Goss' confirmation hearings.
"We have a lot on our plate," he said, "but we want to do a careful job."
Rockefeller issued a statement last week saying that he was "concerned with the president's choice" but that he would with Roberts to "move the process forward."

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