Monday, August 23, 2004



President Bush's nominee to be the director of central intelligence, Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), sponsored legislation that would have cut intelligence personnel by 20 percent in the late 1990s.

Goss, who has been chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for the past eight years, was one of six original co-sponsors of legislation in 1995 that called for cuts of at least 4 percent per year between 1996 and 2000 in the total number of people employed throughout the intelligence community.

The legislation, part of a wide-ranging budget-cutting measure that included abolishing the Energy Department and privatizing the air traffic control system, never received a vote. But the nine-year-old legislation, exhumed by Democrats, presents a political hurdle for Goss.

The Bush reelection campaign has been blasting Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry as deeply irresponsible for proposing intelligence cuts at the same time. A Bush campaign ad released on Aug. 13 carried a headline: "John Kerry . . . proposed slashing Intelligence Budget 6 Billion Dollars."

But the cuts Goss supported are larger than those proposed by Kerry and specifically targeted the "human intelligence" that has recently been found lacking. The recent report by the commission probing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks called for more spending on human intelligence.