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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

New York Times > Bush Nominates Congressman to Replace Tenet as C.I.A. Director

Published: August 10, 2004
President Bush today nominated Representative Porter Goss, a Republican congressman who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to be the new head of Central Intelligence.
"Porter Goss is a leader with strong experience in intelligence and the fight against terrorism," Mr. Bush said in announcing his choice in the White House Rose Garden this morning.
"He knows the C.I.A. inside and out. He is the right man to lead this important agency at this critical moment in our nation's history."
Mr. Goss, 65, served for about 10 years as a Central Intelligence Agency case officer, beginning in the early 1960's.
His name had been prominent in speculation about who might succeed George J. Tenet, who stepped down on July 11 after months of criticism about the failures of the intelligence community in the fight against terrorism. John McLaughlin, the deputy director, has been serving as interim director.
James L. Pavitt, the C.I.A.'s deputy director for operations, also retired this month, leaving a vacuum at the top of the war on terrorism.
Mr. Goss's selection is bound to be controversial. He was responsible for Congressional oversight of the C.I.A., and the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks concluded that the oversight efforts largely failed. He is considered a strong partisan, and recently took to the floor of the House to attack Senator John Kerry, the president's opponent in November's election.
Tpday the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator John D. Rockefeller, said he was concerned with Mr. Bush's choice, saying that the selection of a politician for the post — "any politician, from either party" —was a mistake. He made similar comments in June, when Mr. Goss was being mentioned in the press as a candidate for the job. But Mr. Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, said today that he would work to move the nomination process forward, although Mr. Goss "will need to answer tough questions about his record and his position on reform."
Within the C.I.A., views of Mr. Goss are mixed. But perhaps the biggest challenge to his nomination is the uncertainty over what kind of job he will be taking. Mr. Bush last week endorsed the creation of a national intelligence director, who will sit above the C.I.A. director and coordinate the activities of all intelligence agencies. While the C.I.A. job remains a critical one, it will therefore be much diminished, making the C.I.A. chief one among many intelligence directors.
The C.I.A. has been at the center of steady criticism this year, both by the 9/11 panel and the Senate Intelligence Committee, for failures of intelligence associated with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the war on Iraq.
The bipartisan 9/11 commission concluded in its unanimous final report that the attacks "were a shock but they should not have come as a surprise." It warned that without a historic restructuring of the nation's intelligence agencies and a new emphasis on diplomacy, the United States would leave itself open to an even more catastrophic attack.
Mr. Bush's acceptance of the proposal for a national intelligence chief was immediately criticized by the commission, which said the Bush plan would not grant nearly enough power to the position.
The C.I.A. came in for earlier criticism in the Senate Intelligence Committee report. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas who is the panel's chairman, said there was no evidence that the C.I.A. altered any findings under political pressure but said the intelligence that sent the country to war in Iraq was flawed.
Specifically, the reports by the two panels pointed out that there was no evidence to support C.I.A. claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, or substantive ties to Al Qaeda. The C.I.A.'s findings had been embraced by Bush administration officials, which left them open to widespread criticism by Democrats. The White House has steadfastly defended its record on terror.
Mr. Goss, of Florida, has served as the House Intelligence Committee's chairman since 1997, but had already announced plans to retire from Congress in January, at the end of the current session.
Mr. Goss's nomination will now go before the Senate, and Mr. Goss said today that he looked forward to the process.
But political analysts said the Senate might well seize on the nomination as an opportunity to voice renewed criticism of the Bush administration's handling of intelligence, which could prove damaging to Mr. Bush in this election year.
Today Mr. Bush said: "The work of the C.I.A. is vital to our security. America faces determined enemies who plan in many nations, send trained killers to live among us, and attack without warning.
"This threat is unprecedented, and to stop them from killing our citizens, we must have the best intelligence possible."
He added, "Director George Tenet, Acting Director John McLaughlin have served our nation with distinction and honor. And now with the agreement of the U.S. Senate, the C.I.A. will have another strong leader in Porter Goss."
David E. Sanger contributed reporting for this article from Washington.

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