- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 12, 2004


President Bush’s nomination of Rep. Porter J. Goss as the next CIA director could lead to tense confirmation hearings, with plenty of questions about the president’s national security record and goals, just weeks before the Nov. 2 election.

Appearing yesterday on NBC’s “Today” show, Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the hearings would begin the first week of September.

“We’re going to try to expedite this. I think he will be confirmed,” he said. “The Democrats have questions. We’ll keep it civil.”

Even as some Democrats praised the nomination of Mr. Goss, a Florida Republican who gave up his role Tuesday as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, others criticized him as inappropriately partisan for a job that requires relaying objective advice to policy-makers.

“You must keep the politics out of intelligence,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California. “I’m not sure that has been done here.”

“The selection of a politician — any politician from either party — is a mistake,” said Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Having independent, objective intelligence going to the president and the Congress is fundamental to America’s national security.”

Mr. Roberts said he was mystified by complaints that Mr. Goss was partisan.

“You can disagree with somebody as to the issues from time to time; I don’t think that makes them partisan,” Mr. Roberts said. “I don’t consider him to be partisan. I’ve known him for 16 years; that’s not a word I would use to describe Porter.”

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Mr. Goss “has shown not only the ability, but the willingness to point out the failures that existed in our intelligence agencies prior to 9/11.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Goss said yesterday that while his nomination is pending, he is stepping down as chairman of the House intelligence panel to avoid conflicts.

“I do believe it is appropriate to remain a member of the committee,” Mr. Goss told colleagues yesterday morning at the outset of a hearing on the report of the September 11 commission.

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, New York Republican, presided at the hearing, at which September 11 commission Chairman Thomas H. Kean and Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton were testifying.

“Let us hope that partisanship won’t rear its ugly head during the Senate proceedings,” Mr. Boehlert said of the pending hearings.

In making the announcement Tuesday, Mr. Bush ignored advisers who had favored allowing acting director John E. McLaughlin to remain on the job until after the November elections.

Mr. Bush praised Mr. Goss, a former CIA officer, as someone who “knows the CIA inside and out” and said he was “the right man to lead this important agency at this critical moment in our nation’s history.”

Mr. Goss, 65, worked as a CIA officer overseeing spies in Central America and Western Europe during the 1960s. After retiring from the agency, he rose in local and then national politics.

He has never disclosed details of his CIA employment except to reveal that he worked in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Mexico — all tumultuous countries during that decade of the Cold War.

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