- The Washington Times - Monday, September 13, 2004

Years before the United States entered World War II, it was Gen. George C. Marshall’s habit to jot down names of exceptional officers with whom he came in contact. One of the names he had collected was Dwight Eisenhower, who Gen. Marshall had promoted far ahead of his contemporaries and sent to Europe to lead the Allied forces to defeat Nazi Germany.

Gen. Marshall knew that individuals matter and that selecting the right person to carry out a plan is at least as important as the plan itself. Whenever there is a monumental task to be done, we know that critical tasks require exceptional people.

If we are serious about reforming our intelligence community we will need more than structural changes; we absolutely must have quality people who have the leadership, vision, and drive to implement and manage change. In short, we need real reformers in the top positions of our intelligence community to help protect our country from another devastating terrorist attack.

Porter Goss has been nominated by President Bush to be the Director of Central Intelligence at the most critical time in the history of the intelligence community. Intelligence is our first line of defense in our war on terrorism and it is critical for our national security that the next director of central intelligence be successful in his job.

The president and many members of both houses of Congress have accepted the September 11 commission’s recommendation to create a national intelligence director who will be separate from the director of the CIA to oversee our entire intelligence community. While some think it would be better to wait on Mr. Goss’ confirmation until the new position of National Intelligence Director is enacted into law, the reality is that the intelligence community needs to have quality, experienced leadership in place right now to lead and implement the changes we all know are coming.

The selection of Mr. Goss is a brilliant choice, and he should be confirmed without delay. As a colleague, mentor, and friend of mine for ten years, I know his character, professionalism, leadership abilities, and dedication to duty as few others.

Mr. Goss was an officer in the Army’s Military Intelligence Corps, a clandestine case officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, and more recently the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. As the Chairman for almost eight years, he had the opportunity to meet with the heads of intelligence of our major allies. Mr. Goss’ personal credibility with these foreign intelligence agencies and their leaders is an important factor as we work with our allies to confront our shared threats. His unique and important background as a soldier, CIA clandestine officer, and legislator are unmatched.

The country needs Mr. Goss’ leadership. He is committed to reforming our intelligence community. I know this first hand from working with him in the intelligence authorization process. He has been the intelligence community’s most thoughtful and constructive critic, but also its most vocal advocate for greater investment in the parts of the intelligence discipline that were allowed to atrophy and that everyone else now realizes need our greatest attention. These areas, long flagged by Mr. Goss, include human intelligence (HUMINT), competitive analysis, unilateral clandestine collection, investment in language training, collapsing intelligence bureaucracies and sharing of intelligence.

As a former clandestine case officer who served overseas, Mr. Goss knows about the hardships, dangers, family separations, and long-hours involved in HUMINT operations. He has the highest regard for our intelligence professionals and Mr. Goss will work assiduously to improve the morale of the CIA at the same time he works to fix those problems we have identified in the intelligence community.

Just as Gen. Marshall knew that Dwight Eisenhower was the right person to bring our allies together to defeat Nazi Germany, I know that Mr. Goss is the right person to implement reforms and fix the problems in the intelligence community. That’s why as the United States Senate should confirm President Bush’s nomination of Mr. Goss to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Under his leadership, our great intelligence professionals will continue to help to strengthen the security of the United States and its allies.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican from Georgia, is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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