Gen. Carns withdraws his name from consideration for CIA job

March 11, 1995|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton's choice to head the Central Intelligence Agency, retired Air Force Gen. Michael P. C. Carns, has withdrawn his nomination because of a "personal matter" reviewed during his FBI background check, White House officials said yesterday.

General Carns, a 57-year-old former fighter pilot, decided to take himself out of consideration to spare the administration and his family the embarrassment of another controversial, and potentially doomed, Senate confirmation hearing, a White House aide said.

President Clinton is expected to nominate Deputy Defense Secretary John Deutch, the Pentagon's second-ranking official, to fill the CIA directorship left vacant by the resignation of R.

James Woolsey in December.

A White House official who requested anonymity confirmed General Carns' withdrawal, but would not elaborate on the nature of the problem that caused it. He said the White House knew "generally" of the matter when Mr. Clinton announced the nomination on Feb. 8.

But the FBI background investigation revealed the problem was more serious than initially believed, convincing some White House officials that General Carns was unlikely to survive the confirmation hearings scheduled to begin within the next few weeks.

The White House is expected to issue a formal explanation of the matter today.

"The president is heartbroken that someone of Carns' background and experience could not serve in this position," said White House spokesman Michael McCurry. "But the general felt that he should withdraw his name to save his family and his jTC president from a protracted discussion of his nomination."

General Carns, a 35-year Air Force veteran and Harvard Business School graduate, was relatively unknown when Mr. Clinton picked him to head the CIA, which has been rocked by the worst internal spy scandal in its 50-year history and by allegations of sexual harassment and cronyism within the ranks.

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