s chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Porter Goss straddles the often blurred but increasingly vital line between overseas intelligence information and domestic security. With his low-profile style plus his work during the 1960s in the CIA's Clandestine Services in Latin America and Europe, the Florida Republican has attained an iconic status on Capitol Hill for his knowledge of intelligence operations and policy.
"No one has a greater expertise on intelligence issues," said House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., who has worked closely with Goss. In co-chairing a House-Senate inquiry into pre-9/11 intelligence failures, Goss was instrumental in building its bipartisan conclusion that the intelligence community "missed opportunities to disrupt" the terrorists' plot. The panel, which pointedly criticized the FBI's failure to pursue domestic terrorism, recommended creation of an "all-source terrorism information fusion center" in the Homeland Security Department to integrate information on foreign individuals who pose terrorist threats-a recommendation accepted by Secretary Tom Ridge.
Although Goss has been careful to keep the intelligence community from intruding into domestic policy, he moved quickly to create a homeland-security subcommittee after the 2001 attacks. More recently, he has used his seat on the Homeland Security Committee to press both Congress and the executive branch to improve their structure and management of internal security responsibilities. Likewise, Goss earlier promoted a beefing-up of CIA intelligence activities, including the recruiting of more spies. In disdaining the public spotlight and encouraging consensus on the Intelligence Committee, which he has chaired since 1997, Goss has been a favorite of House Republican leaders.
A native of Waterbury, Conn., Goss, 65, graduated from Yale and held local offices along Florida's Gulf Coast before he was elected to Congress in 1988. Planning to retire this year, he reportedly has turned down opportunities for a top national-security post in the Bush administration.