WASHINGTON -- Former Air Force vice chief of staff retired Gen. Michael P.C. Carns has been nominated by President Clinton to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
If Carns' nomination is approved by the Senate, he will replace R. James Woolsey, who submitted his resignation in December.
"General Carns' broad experience and exceptional qualities make him the right leader for our intelligence community in this time of challenge and change," Clinton said Feb. 8 during a White House ceremony announcing the nomination.
"He's a proven innovator, open to new ways of doing business and skeptical of conventional wisdom," Clinton said. "He understands the critical importance of intelligence because he's had to rely on it when the lives of Americans and the security of our country were on the line."
Carns retired from active duty in September. During his military career, the 1959 Air Force Academy graduate flew F-4E's in more than 200 combat missions in Vietnam, earning both the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
His other posts included director of operations for the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (later redesignated U.S. Central Command), deputy commander in chief of U.S. Pacific Command and director of the Joint Staff during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
"And somewhere along the line, he even found time to get (a master's degree in business administration) from Harvard -- something for which I have already forgiven him," quipped Clinton, a Yale law school graduate.
During the White House ceremony, Carns spoke of the challenges facing the intelligence community.
"The Cold War may have passed into history, but regional instability, terrorism, drug trafficking, crime and the proliferation of nuclear weapons all loom large as threats to our interests and to our people," Carns said.
He also said the intelligence community is doing an extraordinary job, "but often it can't take public credit for its successes, even though it must always hold itself accountable for a setback."
Carns, whose father is a retired Army major general, said he intends to meet the challenges at the CIA living by three basic rules.
"First, we must demonstrate to the fine people in the intelligence community through our actions that excellence and performance equal opportunity; merit promotion and personal accountability are the standards we endorse," he said.
"Second, we must be open to change and to innovation. Reinvention and downsizing will be major factors, even as we continue to produce high-quality intelligence.
"Finally, we want to work closely and productively with the Congress, with the Aspin Commission (appointed by Clinton to review the missions and structure of the intelligence community) and others to foster bipartisan support for the intelligence community."