Alex Wong  /  AP
9/11 commission member John Lehman on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington on June 20. and NBC News
updated 7/6/2004 10:25:28 PM ET 2004-07-07T02:25:28

The Bush administration is seriously considering nominating John Lehman, businessman, former Navy secretary and current 9/11 commissioner, to replace George Tenet as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, NBC News has learned from multiple sources at the White House, the State Department and on Capitol Hill.

The nomination of Lehman, who is being viewed as the leading candidate, could come as soon as Thursday, in an attempt to deflect attention from a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the agency, a report expected to be highly critical. The official release of the report has been delayed because ranking Democratic member, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has other commitments.

Lehman, who was known as a reformer during his Navy days but who is not popular at the CIA, would be acceptable to most Republicans on the Hill — in sharp contrast to Rep. Porter Goss, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who was roundly rejected by leaders of the committee when his name was leaked last week.

Formerly an investment banker with Paine Webber Inc., Lehman is the chairman of J.F. Lehman & Co., an investment firm. He was president of Abington Corporation, an aerospace consulting company, between 1977 and 1981. He served 25 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was appointed secretary of the Navy by President Reagan in 1981 and served until 1987.

NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Tim Russert, Ken Strickland and Tamara Kupperman contributed to this report.


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