Friday, May 05, 2006

Goss Steps Down


This may be administration spin, or (perhaps) we're learning what actually prompted Porter Goss to step down as CIA Director. According to ABC News, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte was unhappy with Goss's performance, and initiated an effort to get rid of the CIA director back in mid-April. That led to a series of meetings between Goss, Negroponte and President Bush. ABC says the last meeting occurred on Wednesday, when it was decided that Goss would announce his resignation.

If this report is correct, it suggests that Negroponte is continuing to consoliate his power as DNI. When Negoponte first assumed the DNI post last April, there was concern that he would be unable to effectively control the nation's sprawling intelligence community. Goss's resignation suggests that Negroponte wants to assume more direct control over the CIA. That tends to reinforce the belief that the next agency director will be someone Negroponte knows and trusts. If that theory is correct, then Negroponte's DDNI (General Michael Hayden) may well be atop the short list of candidates to run the CIA.

1402 PDT

Carl Cameron of FNC is reporting that a replacement for Goss could be named as early as Monday. That "rapid" timeline suggests someone already in the intelligence or national security establishment--someone like a Mike Hayden; others have suggested National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley might be a candidate for the CIA job. According to his resume, Hadley has some intel experience, but as a consumer, not an analyst or producer. Given the task facing the next CIA director, I'm not sure Hadley is the right man for the post. There's also the question of whether Hadley or Hayden would want a "lateral" promotion to run the CIA. While I believe Hayden has the right resume, he has already run an intelligence agency.

Lost amid the news about Goss is another key vacancy at the top of the intelligence community. The director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), which provides imagery and geospatial intel products is scheduled to depart in mid-June, and a replacement has yet to be named. The current NGA director (retired Lt Gen James Clapper) was informed in March that his "contract" would not be renewed or extended. We've been told that the next NGA leader will be an active duty, three-star flag officer (a Lt Gen or Vice-Admiral), but so far, there has been little speculation as to who might replace Clapper.

1303 PDT

Mac Ranger weighs in on the CIA's change at the top. He sums up Goss's departure in two words: mission accomplished. I'm not quite ready to climb on that bandwagon (yet), but he makes a persuasive argument. According to Mac, any celebrations at Langley may be short-lived and premature.

1117 PDT

The talking heads suggest there's more to this story than is currently being reported. Bill Kristol on FNC is suggesting that some sort of scandal may be about to break. The few sources I've talked to seem genuinely surprised, with no ideal of what might have prompted this sudden change.

Chris Wallace of FNC is now saying that Goss's resignation is part of the overall White House/Administration shake-up. A White House source tells Wallace that Goss had done his job in "shaking up the agency." I've got my doubts. In his appearance in the Oval Office, Goss had the appearance of someone who had been handed his walking papers. We'll know more in the coming hours.

One more note: Goss's military aide (an Air Force Colonel) left his post at the agency last month. However, this appears to be a routine reassignment, and not a harbinger of what happened today. Indeed, the Air Force Colonel in question is moving on to a commander's billet--a definite promotion.


Porter Goss has announced that he is stepping down as Director of the CIA, after only one year on the job.

Liberal pundits are already spinning Goss's resignation as a sign of serious problems at Langley. In reality, the former Congressman is more a victim of bureaucratic wars. Goss was confirmed as CIA director at about the same time that Ambassador John Negroponte became the nation's first Director of National Intelligence (DNI). That represented a watershed in the history of the nation's intelligence community. For the first time, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was no longer America's top-ranking intelligence officer; instead, he became just another agency director, on the same level as the Directors of the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA).

The distinction is important. No longer is the CIA Director the president's primary intelligence advisor--that responsibility now belongs to John Negroponte. Additionally, the responsibility for preparing the presidential daily briefing (PDB) falls on the DNI, not the CIA. Given the scope of our intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination efforts, preparation of a single daily summary or briefing (even for the President) may sound like a routine task. But that is hardly the case; the PDB equals access, and that duty now belongs to John Negroponte, not the CIA director.

What disturbs me about the Goss resignation is the possibility that internal battles may have worn down the director, and eventually convinced him to throw in the towel. It's no secret that Goss has been fighting pitched battles against staffers who oppose Bush Administration policies, and the new management team at the CIA. Goss recently fired CIA officer Mary McCarthy for unauthorized contacts with the press, and there are hints that other agency staffers may be implicated as well. But earlier this week, the CIA launched an investigation of the agency's #3 official--a Goss appointee--in connection with the bribery scandal that sent former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham to federal prison. Given the timing--and announcement--of the inquiry, there was some belief that the probe was something of a "counter-attack" by agency's anti-administration cabal.

Today's announcement clearly caught the White House by surprise. Consequently, the director's position may remain vacant for a while, and that could derail the reform campaign at Langley. To avoid that, President Bush should consider the appointment of an experienced intelligence manager who could move into the job quickly and seamlessly. IMO, one of the few men who could do that is the current Deputy Director of National Intelligence, General Mike Hayden. General Hayden isn't a CIA veteran, but he was extremely effective as Director of NSA for more than five years. During his tenure at Ft Meade, he reformed and reshaped the NSA, clearing out bureaucratic deadwood, boosting agency morale, and improving its importance.

At a critical juncture in its history, General Hayden just might be the right man for the CIA job.


Dymphna said...


Do you think the Clintonistas, armed with everyone's skeletons, are behind this? From the very beginning, when Hillary had personnel records illegally pulled and sent to the White House, I thought we were in it for the long haul.

Is this payback, in your opinion?

Do you have any Machiavellan ideas here?

Unknown said...

Joe--General Hayden is not a political creature in the sense that Goss was. Anyone at that level has to have political skills/sensibilities, but Gen Hayden is widely respected as an intelligence professional. He inherited similar problems at NSA; an entrenched civilian bureaucracy, reluctance to change, embrace new technology, etc. The biggest difference is that Hayden never had to deal with the "leak" culture he would inherit at Langley.

IMO, the biggest drawback against Hayden becoming CIA director is his general lack of experience in HUMINT. Gen Hayden came up on the SIGINT side of the house, as evidenced by his stint at NSA Director. However, his appointment as DDNI is an indication of the respect he commands, and his skills to work across the Intel Community. If there's anyone who could win rapid confirmation, it's Mike Hayden. But again, with the CIA focusing more on human intel and covert ops, Hayden might be viewed as having an "incomplete" resume.

If I were sitting in the Oval Office, Hayden would be my first choice. Having said that, most recent directors have come from a Capitol Hill/White House background, and that pattern may continue. And quite frankly, General Hayden may be happy as DDNI. At this stage in his career, I'm not sure if he wants to finish slaying the dragons at Langley.

Dymphna--Anything is possible, but absent more specific proof, I don't think any "new" revelations" emerged from Goss's past. He underwent a major vetting to get confirmed as CIA Director, and I'm sure that everything was examined, including the "raw" data in his FBI file.

I will say this: Filegate was THE seminal Clinton scandal. 900 FBI files equals a ton of dirt, to be used carefully over the next 10-20 years.

Beth said...

What about the stupid meme from the lefty blogs that are saying he has some sex/Duke Cunningham scandal about to blow?

I don't buy it--I can't see a sudden departure because of that.

I smell bureaucratic politics too.

El Jefe Maximo said...

As I said on my own looks to me like Negroponte is the big winner here.

I can't believe that there is some scandal with Goss that wouldn't have been unearthed during his Senate protology exam. But something's sure up. I figured after the McCarthy business that a major purge was coming, but that Goss would be doing it.

Wonder if the CIA troublemakers are being given a message, sorta like Santa Anna putting up the red flag for the guys in the Alamo. Could Negroponte's group be getting ready to swallow CIA ?

Unknown said...

Beth/El Jefe--I've read the leftist blogs, and so far, there's no smoking gun that actually ties Goss to Cunningham bribery scandal. Just a lot of hopeful thinking for the Air America crowd, although Goss's handling of the Foggo situation may have been the final straw for Negroponte. As I pointed out a couple of days ago, the logical way to handle Foggo was to put him on unpaid administrative leave; instead, Goss left him on the payroll, as Mary McCarthy's old outfit--the CIA/IG--conducted the investigation.

Your point about the DNI "swallowing" the CIA isn't far off. As part of intel reform, the CIA is supposed to focus heavily on human intelligence and covert ops, with far less emphasis on analysis. In fact, one proposal has the Directorate of Analysis--essentially, more than half the agency--being placed under control of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which provides overall guidance for intel analysis.

And who better to complete this transition than the guy who helped create the blueprint, General Mike Hayden. One more thought: if the CIA cabal thought Goss was bad, wait until Negroponte takes charge. Another ex-spook described him as the "ultimate ball breaker." Let me say this: no one has risen farther--or faster--in the Bush Administration than John Negroponte. He's one of those guys you'd describe as a velvet hammer; smooth, polished, but more than capable of lopping your head off and handing it to you with a smile.

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