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Bush Taps Congressman Porter Goss for Top CIA Job - 2004-08-10


President Bush has nominated Florida Congressman Porter Goss to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Goss has decades of experience with the intelligence community and is a strong proponent of reform.

President Bush says Porter Goss is the perfect person to head the Central Intelligence Agency at a time of turmoil and change.

"He knows the agency. And he knows what is needed to strengthen it," the president said.

Congressman Goss is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. But politics is his second career. Before running for public office for the first time in 1988, he was part of the intelligence community. He worked for both Army intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency before health problems prompted his early retirement.

"He was a CIA field officer on two continents," Mr. Bush said. "He will make sure that the men and women of the CIA have the capabilities and skills they need to penetrate the hard targets and denied areas and to get to know the enemy first hand."

Porter Goss has been considered a front-runner to replace CIA Director George Tenet, who left amid growing criticism of the agency's handling of information prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the war in Iraq.

Congressman Goss was one of those critics, and played a key role in the drafting of a congressional report that called the agency's spy network dysfunctional. He says building up the CIA's human intelligence capability will be a top priority.

"The essence of our intelligence capability is people," he said. "We have some wonderful Americans doing a great job. I used to be part of them, when I worked for CIA. I am very proud to be associated with them again and I look forward to the challenges of the future."

The nomination must still be confirmed by the Senate. Mr. Goss is widely respected and liked in Congress, but his confirmation hearings could become politically charged. His ties to the Republican party could create a problem for lawmakers who want a bipartisan choice for the job. And some White House aides were said to be concerned about the possibility of holding the hearings during the final months of the presidential election campaign.

But Congressman Goss says he is not worried about the confirmation process.

"As a member right now on the Hill, I know the value of that and the importance of that," he said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Porter Goss will become only the second CIA director to be chosen from the ranks of the U.S. Congress. The first was the current president's father, former President George Bush.

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