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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Picks Acting CIA Chief

WASHINGTON -- Playing it safe after his first choice succumbed to bruising attacks, U.S. President Bill Clinton has nominated acting CIA Director George Tenet to head the nation's spy agency.

Just two days after Republican-led opposition persuaded Anthony Lake to withdraw from consideration, Clinton selected a substitute whose long intelligence career started on the staff of a Republican lawmaker.

"He's well known to the Senate and well-respected by Republicans, as well as Democrats,'' the president said Wednesday.

Tenet, 44, emerged as the quick choice after Lake, Clinton's former national security adviser, bowed out with a bitter letter to Clinton that said: "Washington has gone haywire.''

An angry Clinton then called for an end to "the cycle of political destruction,'' but he had settled on Tenet by Tuesday night and ordered a background check. The president did not want partisan sniping over Lake's demise to cast a shadow over other issues, including budget talks.

Tenet said he had looked forward to serving under Lake, an old friend. "It is a bittersweet moment for me,'' Tenet said.

He seems a safe choice: The Senate confirmed him for the No. 2 spot in 1995, and White House soundings suggested a second set of hearings would go smoothly. Clinton hopes Tenet will move quickly into the top job and begin repairing morale at an agency that has been without a full-time director since December. If confirmed, Tenet will be Clinton's third CIA director.