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Sources: Goss front-runner for CIA post

Congressman worked for agency

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Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Porter Goss
George J. Tenet

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush is considering appointing a replacement for outgoing CIA Director George Tenet soon, and the front-runner for the post is Rep. Porter Goss, sources told CNN.

Goss, R-Florida, is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a veteran of the agency.

When Tenet announced his resignation earlier this month, administration sources indicated it was unlikely that a replacement for him would be named before the November elections, to avoid a potentially contentious confirmation process during the middle of a presidential election campaign.

Instead, Tenet's top deputy, John McLaughlin, was to fill the role on an acting basis after Tenet leaves the CIA in mid-July.

But now, sources said Bush is considering filling the position soon, probably with a member of Congress. Goss is considered the leading candidate.

Goss, 65, served as an agent in the CIA's clandestine service from 1960 to 1971 and has chaired the House Intelligence Committee since 1997.

He is completing his eighth term in Congress, representing a district in southwest Florida, and he is not running for re-election in the fall.

Goss' committee attached a scathing report to an intelligence appropriations bill passed by the House Wednesday. The report called the CIA's human intelligence gathering apparatus "dysfunctional" and adverse to change, and charged that its intelligence analysts were timid and lacked proper focus.

In response, Tenet fired off a letter to Goss, characterizing the committee's criticisms as "ill-informed" and "absurd."

Goss also came under criticism Thursday from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, after Republicans used House rules to keep Democrats from attaching their amendments to the intelligence appropriations bill during Wednesday's debate.

"I didn't get the impression on the floor yesterday that Chairman Goss was somebody who was putting himself in line for the director of CIA," she told reporters at a news conference. "I think that what happened on the floor yesterday was a real disservice to intelligence. ... Intelligence matters are usually dealt with in a bipartisan way."

If nominated by Bush, Goss would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

CNN's David Ensor contributed to this report.

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