- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has emerged as the leading candidate to become CIA director under President-elect George W. Bush, according to government officials close to the presidential transition team.
Mr. Rumsfeld, 68, is said to be the favored candidate to run the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies because of his past government experience, which includes being defense secretary from 1975 to 1977, a congressman from Illinois and an ambassador to NATO.
In addition to past government experience, Mr. Rumsfeld also was picked for the CIA post because of his success in leading a special commission of intelligence and defense specialists in 1998 that reversed a CIA estimate on emerging international missile threats, which critics charged was politically skewed.
Several other appointments some of which could be announced as early as tomorrow are expected to reassure conservatives. Among them are:
Karl Rove to become a "counselor to the president." The top Bush campaign official keeps in touch with grass-roots conservative leaders and interest groups.
Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson to become secretary of health and human services. He is a pro-life Catholic pioneer in school choice and welfare reform in his state.
Lawrence Lindsay to become the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. The former member of the Federal Reserve Board would then be in line to become the next chairman of the Federal Reserve System when Alan Greenspan retires.
Mr. Thompson was apparently Mr. Bush's initial choice to head HHS, a spot that would delight conservatives because it is where "real policy changes that we care about can be made," a leading conservative said privately.
But Mr. Thompson had been holding out for appointment to head the Transportation Department, a post lower on the list of important things conservatives care about.
Mr. Lindsay's role would be particularly important, conservatives say, because of the nomination last week of Wall Street expert Paul O'Neill as secretary of the Treasury Department a nomination that left most conservatives indifferent at best or slightly disappointed, even though he was Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney's choice for the job.
Some said privately they expected the Treasury secretary's role to be somewhat downgraded for the first couple of years, with policy being run out of the White House under Mr. Lindsay and others.
Conservatives regard Mr. Rove, who was chief strategist for the Bush nomination and general election campaigns, as one of their own. Discussions are reportedly under way regarding an arrangement under which Mr. Rove would be in charge of three areas in the White House: congressional affairs, political affairs and intergovernmental affairs.
Under such a regimen, Andrew Card, already named as Mr. Bush's White House chief of staff and a man beloved by centrists within the Republican Party, would have to go through Mr. Rove on these matters a somewhat unusual arrangement.
Also, conservatives are abuzz with what some regard as reliable information that Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, a former FBI agent, state attorney general and assistant U.S. attorney general who until last week was thought to be in line to head the U.S. Justice Department, may be named to head the FBI a 10-year appointment, regardless of who accedes to the presidency during his tenure.
The emergence of Mr. Rumsfeld as a top contender to head the CIA one official said the appointment was "a done deal" also is expected to reassure edgy conservatives.
As head of a nine-member blue-ribbon panel known as the Rumsfeld Commission, he clashed with the CIA over access to sensitive intelligence and eventually gained access to some of the agency's deepest secrets.
Mr. Rumsfeld, during the panel's inquiry, personally questioned senior and junior CIA analysts and uncovered dissenting points of view that appeared to have been suppressed by senior managers.
The panel uncovered what some of its members described as "politicization" that appeared aimed at blocking development of missile defenses.
The initial November 1995 national intelligence estimate on missile threats asserted that no missile threats would emerge for 15 years. The estimate prompted Congress to appoint the Rumsfeld Commission to review the threat.
North Korea then shocked the CIA by test-launching a new long-range missile in August 1998.
The Rumsfeld panel's report concluded that missile threats to the United States were growing faster and would emerge sooner than CIA analysts had predicted.
The commission's findings have been used by supporters of building national missile defenses. Some members of the commission, such as scientist Richard Garwin, are outspoken opponents of missile defense.
Mr. Bush and his advisers have said deploying a national missile defense will be a key defense priority.
Other candidates who sought the CIA post but have lost out to Mr. Rumsfeld are Rep. Porter J. Goss, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and current CIA Director George Tenet.
Mr. Goss, a former CIA officer, was opposed by some Republican conservatives who charged he was too accommodating to the CIA and did not provide tougher oversight in the past several years.
Mr. Tenet has been CIA director since 1997, when he took the job after President Clinton's earlier choice, Anthony Lake, withdrew his nomination under pressure from Senate Republicans who opposed his liberal views.

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