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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK
Battle looms over CIA nomination
By Dan Griffiths
BBC Washington reporter

Porter Goss is a politician who knows the CIA very well. The Florida congressman is chairman of the House intelligence committee and a one time officer with the agency.

Porter Goss and George Bush shake hands
Critics say Goss is too close to the Bush administration
A strong supporter of President Bush, Porter Goss had long been touted as the most likely successor to George Tenet, who left the CIA last month.

During Mr Tenet's tenure, the CIA faced strong criticism for its handling of the pre-war intelligence on Iraq, and lapses prior to the 11 September attacks.

Congressman Goss played a key role in congressional efforts to probe intelligence failures leading up to the 11 September attacks.

His position as chairman of the powerful House intelligence committee had put him at the heart of earlier efforts to reform the CIA.

President Bush has already accepted recommendations made by the official investigation into the 11 September attacks which called for the creation of a national intelligence director and a national counterterrorism centre, with oversight authority over 15 US intelligence agencies.

But it is not clear what role Goss would play in any reorganisation.

Opposition

If approved, the Republican would be only the second congressman to head the Central Intelligence Agency after George HW Bush, the former president and father of the current US president.

PORTER GOSS
Porter Goss
Born in Connecticut in 1938
Graduated from Yale in 1960
Joined the CIA in 1962 and worked as an officer there until 1972
Elected to Congress in 1988

But President Bush may have a battle on his hands to get that Senate approval.

Some Democrats have promised a tough fight before any vote.

The confirmation hearing will probably revisit the failures and highlight common criticism of the CIA.

It will come against the backdrop of the heated election race for the White House in which security and intelligence are key campaign issues.

And that could create problems for the White House.

Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, has said he will not support someone from Congress in that position.

He complained that Porter Goss would be too partisan.

And there has been similar criticism from within the intelligence community.

Some former employees have criticised Goss as being too closely connected to the Bush administration.

Of course that is not President Bush's view. He says that Porter Goss is the right man at the right time.




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