The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee warned fellow Democrats in the Senate yesterday against trying to block the nomination of Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) as CIA director, saying that would be picking the wrong fight in this election year.
Democrats should ask tough questions of Goss at Senate confirmation hearings next month, but "my view is, this is the wrong fight," Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"To get stuck in a fight about Porter Goss after tough questions are asked of Porter Goss is not where we ought to be this fall," said Harman, who has no vote on the matter because the Senate confirms presidential nominees.
Goss resigned as chairman of the House intelligence panel last week after President Bush nominated him to replace George J. Tenet at the CIA.
Harman said Congress should move swiftly to push through recommendations from the Sept. 11 commission, including creating a new national intelligence director.
Bush "missed an opportunity" for intelligence improvements by nominating Goss as permanent CIA director, she said.
Many Democrats have criticized the selection of Goss, saying he is too partisan for a job that requires relaying objective advice to policymakers in the executive and legislative branches.
But Democrats also are mindful of the 2002 congressional elections in which the White House and Republicans put them in a political box regarding creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Democrats opposed the Bush administration's demand that some federal workers lose long-held civil service protections. But the GOP convinced many voters that Democrats were blocking important legislation to protect the country -- even though the new department began as a Democratic plan.
Meanwhile, Time reported on a March "terrorist summit" of al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan's lawless tribal area of Waziristan near the Afghanistan border. Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, said a major explosives expert participated in the meeting. U.S. officials fear that it was an important planning session for an attack, and that some people involved may already be in the United States, the magazine said.