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Bush narrowing choices for CIA director

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush is focusing on House Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss and at least one other person as possible successors to CIA Director George Tenet, administration officials say.

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,'' White House communications director Dan Bartlett said Thursday.

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. Two administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Bush was focusing on Goss, R-Fla., and at least one other candidate.

Goss, 65, has served in Congress for 16 years and plans to retire from the House at the end of the year. With his 11 years as a CIA case officer and nearly eight years as House Intelligence Committee chairman, some have suggested he is a prime candidate for the job.

Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., a former intelligence chairman, and other lawmakers were quick to endorse Goss when Tenet announced his resignation.

Goss has remained silent on whether he is interested in the position. He said he hadn'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,'' Goss said.

Other names who've been mentioned include Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage and former CIA Director Robert Gates.

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.
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