- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2004

President Bush is expected to name a national intelligence director in the coming weeks, but White House officials yesterday wouldn’t speculate on potential candidates.

Sources close to the White House said the president and his staff have been busy compiling a list of candidates for the position. Names from Congress, the Pentagon and the special commission appointed to investigate the September 11 attacks have floated around Washington for weeks.

Porter J. Goss, the newly appointed director of the CIA, has been rumored to be on the list, but sources said it was unlikely he would be asked to move out of a job he just accepted.

Candidates from Congress include Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence; Rep. Jane Harman of California, the committee’s ranking Democrat; and Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, one of the few members of his party in the Senate who has not joined in the harsh criticism of Bush administration policies in the war on terror.

Mr. Hoekstra, Mrs. Harman and Mr. Lieberman were among the few members of Congress who White House spokesman Scott McClellanlauded by name for the bill’s passage.

Other candidates include former Republican Gov. Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey, the chairman of the September 11 commission, which recommended the bulk of what is in the new bill, and John Lehman, a Republican member of that commission and former secretary of the Navy.

Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the National Security Agency, also is thought to be on the short list. Gen. Hayden has established a reformer’s reputation at NSA for his fight to reorganize the way intelligence is gathered and analyzed. He was once a prime candidate for the No. 2 slot at the CIA under Mr. Goss, another reform-minded leader. Gen. Hayden’s experience in military intelligence stretches back to the early 1970s.

The National Intelligence Reform Act, which was passed by the Senate yesterday, gives the new director of national intelligence the power to “monitor the implementation and execution” of the nation’s 15 military and civilian spy agencies, though the Pentagon is given more control over its operations than those agencies on the civilian side.

Mr. Bush agreed to give the new director full budget authority — a stipulation many in Congress desired — and he will have the same access to the president as a Cabinet secretary.

His main job will be to make sure intelligence agencies are focused on keeping an eye on terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda, and rogue nations like North Korea and Syria.

“We remain a nation at war on terrorism, and intelligence is our first line of defense. It is vital that we have the best possible intelligence,” Mr. McClellan said.

The president will wait to sign the legislation until many of the bill’s primary proponents can adjust their schedules to take part in a signing ceremony.

“I wouldn’t expect it to be this week,” Mr. McClellan said, when asked when Mr. Bush would sign the bill. “Certainly, we want to make sure that some members are there with the president so we can commend them for all their work in helping to make this happen.”

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