Director of Central Intelligence-designate George Tenet received a warm reception at his first Senate confirmation hearing yesterday as Senators of both parties praised his bipartisanship and integrity.
Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee that as director he would focus on keeping talented people at the CIA.
"People come first. As vital as technology is to our work, intelligence is primarily a human endeavor," Tenet said. Directing his statement toward CIA employees, he said, "We will be partners."
Tenet is President Clinton's second pick for CIA director. Former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake withdrew his bid for the position, saying the confirmation process was tortuous and intrusive.
Senators yesterday seemed anxious to confirm Tenet.
"We have quite a few members of the Let George Do It Club," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said. "I hope we can make some expeditious decisions here."
Tenet served as chief of staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee from 1988 to 1993, prior to becoming the CIA's second-in-command. He is now serving as acting director of the agency.
Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, and several other members praised Tenet for his fairness and honesty as a committee staffer and endorsed him as a strong candidate for DCI.
Though Tenet did not unveil any sweeping management reform proposals, he did say the CIA needed to adjust to a changing world.
"Ultimately, leadership at this moment means closing the door on the Cold War and embracing the challenges and opportunities of a new era," Tenet said.
Several Senators expressed concern about the future of the CIA, saying that reform is needed to improve morale and more attention should be given to the sucesses of the intelligence community.
"I'm not confident that the Directorate of Operations is really reformed enough to minimize to a reasonable level the reoccurrence of subsequent breaches, as in the case of Aldrich Ames," Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said the new director should try to educate the public about the importance of the CIA's work.
"There's a lack of appreciation by the American people of the work that's done day to day in the streets, people spending a lot of hours working behind desks and providing critical information for the policy makers in this government, sometimes risking their lives," he said. "We never hear about the successes; we almost always hear about the failures."