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Fla. Rep. To Replace Tenet?

As attention turns to who will run the CIA, a range of investigators are preparing to issue highly critical reports expected to castigate the spy agency and its top leadership for intelligence failures on Sept. 11 and Iraq.

One such report has been in the CIA's hands for three weeks.

CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports U.S. Rep Porter Goss, R-Fla. is at the top of the list.

As chairman of the House Intelligence committee and a Republican not running for reelection, Goss has all the right credentials. And he even wants the job.

"Anytime anybody is approached to take on serious work for the United States government, they're honored and would give it consideration. That would include me," Goss told reporters.

A confirmation hearing before the November elections would give Democrats one more chance to rehash the intelligence failures of the last three and a half years.

But administration officials say that as a respected member of Congress, Goss would have an easier time being confirmed than any other candidate, Martin reports. Still, Democrats will have no shortage of ammunition.

Later this month, the Senate Intelligence committee is expected to release a devastating critique of the CIA's mistaken pre-war estimate that "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons" -- an estimate based in part on information provided by foreign intelligence services which the CIA.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and congressional aides have said the report is expected to be highly critical of the agency for overestimating the threat posed by Iraq. While the report is not expected to name names, the document, expected to span about 400 pages, goes almost as far, identifying titles and positions of a number of people.

One congressional aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said the CIA was given all but the conclusions three weeks ago for declassification and fact-checking. However, the document makes clear the deep extent of the problem behind the Iraq weapons estimates, the aide said.

The Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmad Chalabi — whose alleged leak of classified U.S. intelligence secrets to Iran was overshadowed this week only by Tenet's resignation — is expected to be an element of the report. But the aide said the findings will look at a broad range of problems facing the intelligence community.

The aide declined to provide specifics on the report's factual findings.

Still unclear was whether President Bush would nominate Tenet's replacement soon, or wait until after the election to avoid sparking debate over intelligence failures in what could be a nasty confirmation fight. Bush has asked Tenet's deputy, John McLaughlin, to temporarily head the agency when Tenet leaves in mid-July.

Current and former intelligence officials thought Bush may seek to keep McLaughlin in place through the end of this term.

On Capitol Hill this week, officials privately questioned how much credibility McLaughlin will have, given that he oversaw intelligence analysis during the Iraq weapons miscalculations. One aide said some key lawmakers have indicated they are going to have a hard time overlooking that when dealing with future threats.

Going forward, eyes will also be on McLaughin's relationship with Bush, including whether he continues the somewhat unusual trend established in the Bush administration, in which the CIA director himself attends the president's regular morning briefings. McLaughlin filled in for Tenet when he was unavailable.

John Brennan, chief of the government's leading intelligence hub, said that McLaughlin will provide continuity because he's been "attached to George's hip in the past several years." Tenet and McLaughlin, for instance, work in adjoining offices.

"George won't be there, but his alter-ego will remain in place," Brennan said.

Bush and Tenet were thought to have a collegial, if not chummy, relationship. But others say Tenet's relationship with senior members of the Bush administration, while professional, has been tense over intelligence estimates, such as the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons programs indicating Saddam may have had chemical and biological weapons and was reconstituting its nuclear program.

At the agency, Tenet was known as an advocate for the rank-and-file. It was not unusual for Tenet to plunk down at a table in the cafeteria to talk with agency employees over a slice of pizza. Tenet and his wife had lunch there, after his announcement Thursday.

Trying to rebuff suggestions that Tenet is being scapegoated or that he fears the upcoming reports, those close to Tenet noted that he has been the second-longest serving director, working seven years in that position, and two prior to that as the CIA's deputy director.

"That is a 24-7 job," said Brennan, who has worked with Tenet for a decade. "There is never a time when you take your pack off. He is someone that has given every ounce of effort."