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IN THE NEWS - Porter Goss Nomination - 2004-08-14

Broadcast: August 14, 2004

This is Steve Ember with In the News in VOA Special English.

President Bush this week nominated Congressman Porter Goss to be the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The president said Mister Goss is well prepared to reform and strengthen the C.I.A. to meet the threat of terrorism.

Porter Goss is a former C.I.A. case officer. He is now in his eighth term as a Republican congressman from Florida. He stepped down this week as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He became chairman in nineteen ninety seven.

Mister Goss has defended the Central Intelligence Agency against critics. But he himself has criticized the C.I.A. for its performance in Iraq and before the attacks of September eleventh, two thousand one.

Mister Goss is a political ally of President Bush. Still, they have disagreed about how to restructure intelligence gathering. Mister Goss recently proposed legislation to give the C.I.A. director more control over all fifteen intelligence agencies in the government. But last week Mister Bush called for the establishment of a national intelligence director to supervise the C.I.A and the other agencies.

The new position was one of the main reforms urged by the commission that investigated the September eleventh attacks. However, Mister Bush rejected a call by the Nine-Eleven Commission to make the job part of his cabinet. The president had at first opposed the creation of the independent commission itself. He said committees already existing in Congress were in a better position to investigate the attacks on the United States.

Some observers believe Mister Goss will become national intelligence director once that job is established. The national intelligence director will advise the president on all intelligence issues. That is now the job of the director of the C.I.A.

The nomination of Porter Goss as C.I.A. director must be confirmed by the Senate. The leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, has said Mister Goss might be too political to head the agency. Senator Rockefeller said it was a mistake to nominate a politician from either political party.

Some Democrats have criticized President Bush for choosing a politician who has strongly supported the administration’s policies. They accuse Mister Goss of seeking to go too slowly on proposed intelligence changes. The congressman said last week that a rush to judgment is no more acceptable than a needless delay.

A number of Democrats in the Senate have said they will not try to block the confirmation of Mister Goss. But they also said they would use the hearings as a chance to express concerns about intelligence failures under the Bush administration.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mister Goss will replace George Tenet, who resigned as C.I.A. director last month. John McLaughlin, a C.I.A. official, is acting director of the agency for now.

In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Steve Ember.