Reports: Obama Has Selected CIA Director

Two likely candidates rise to the forefront of potential nominees.

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If media reports are true, President Barack Obama planned to announce nominations for his entire national security team Friday, including the new CIA director.

The president opted only to tap John Kerry for secretary of State, omitting his picks for other positions due to controversy surrounding Chuck Hagel as a potential secretary of Defense, reports NBC.

The White House remains mum on Obama's pick to replace ousted director David Petraeus, but experts familiar with the process believe it's down to two names.

Michael Morell, the acting CIA director and #2 under Petraeus, and Michael G. Vickers, the undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, could become the nation's next spy chief, according to multiple experts who spoke with U.S. News.

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Some thought Vickers would follow Susan Rice's departure from the nomination stage, following an inspector general investigation into whether he leaked classified information to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty, a movie that dramatizes the hunt for bin Laden.

The former Army special operations soldier and CIA paramilitary officer emerged from the investigation fairly unscathed.

"I don't think the recent IG news on Vickers was enough to slow him down," says James Carafano, vice president of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. "In fact, one wonders if they threw it out to see if it raised eyebrows. And it didn't."

Carafano sees a pattern among many of the prospective Cabinet nominees recently of "putting a finger in the water here before nominations" by releasing bad news to see if it meets any resistance.

Morell served previously as acting director between Leon Panetta's resignation and Petraeus' confirmation.

[RELATED: Obama Picks Kerry for Secretary of State]

A source familiar with the intelligence community hopes the subsequent director learns from the mistakes of 2012, such as the fallout from the Benghazi attack.

"They don't stand up and say, 'Hey, we guessed wrong,' " the source says of intelligence leaders, including Vickers. "These guys sit on the fence."

"I'll be disappointed if they go out and start filling all these roles with lifetime politicians, like Kerry," he adds.

Investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks have spurred dozens of hearings on Capitol Hill to determine what went wrong.

A report conducted by a State Department independent Advisory Review Board pins much of the blame for the terrorist assault that killed four Americans with major gaps in the intelligence.

"Intelligence provided no immediate, specific tactical warning of the September 11 attacks," the report states. "Known gaps existed in the intelligence community's understanding of extremist militias in Libya and the potential threat they posed to U.S. interests, although some threats were known to exist."

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Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at pshinkman@usnews.com.