WASHINGTON — Administration officials said President Bush had narrowed the field of candidates for CIA director to at least two people, three weeks after outgoing Director George J. Tenet announced his departure.
Two administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bush was focusing on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and at least one other candidate.
"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 this month, citing family reasons. His deputy, John McLaughlin, will become acting CIA 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 to retire from the House at the end of the year. With Goss' 11 years as a CIA case officer and nearly eight years leading the House Intelligence Committee, some have suggested that 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 mum on whether he is interested in the position. He said Thursday night that he hadn't heard from the White House and declined to comment on the administration's process.
"I know absolutely nothing. All I've heard is from reporters," Goss said.