WASHINGTON – Administration officials say President Bush has narrowed his field of candidates for CIA director to at least two people, just two weeks after outgoing director George Tenet (search) announced his departure.
Two administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Bush is focusing on House Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss (search), R-Fla., and at least one other candidate. The officials spoke on the condition they not be identified because the president prefers to make his own personnel announcements.
"The president has not made a decision, and there's more than one candidate," said White House communications director Dan Bartlett.
Tenet announced his resignation as head of the CIA and 14 other agencies that make up the intelligence community earlier this month, citing family reasons. His deputy, John McLaughlin, will take over the agency as acting director when Tenet officially departs next month.
Almost immediately, speculation began about who would permanently replace Tenet.
Goss, 65, has served in Congress for 16 years and plans on retiring from Congress at the end of the year. With his 11 years as a CIA case officer and nearly 8 years as House Intelligence Committee chairman, some have suggested he is a prime candidate for the job.
Goss has remained mum on whether he is interested in the job. Goss said he hasn't heard from the White House and didn't want to comment on their process.
"I know absolutely nothing. All I've heard is from reporters," he said Thursday evening.
It remains unclear when Bush may make a decision.
Some have suggested he may wait until after the November elections — if he wins — rather than endure what could be a difficult Senate confirmation process potentially spotlighting recent intelligence failures.
Others believe the president may want to have a director in place, given the warnings about heightened terror threats leading up to the election.