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Goss Forced Out as CIA Director; Gen. Hayden Is Likely Successor
Washington Post
By Dafna Linzer and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 6, 2006; A01

Porter J. Goss was forced to step down yesterday as CIA director, ending a turbulent 18-month tenure marked by an exodus of some of the agency's top talent and growing White House dissatisfaction with his leadership during a time of war.

The likely successor to Goss is Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency and now deputy to Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte, senior administration officials said. He could be named as soon as Monday.

Seated next to President Bush in the Oval Office, Goss, a Republican congressman from Florida before he took over the CIA, said he was "stepping aside" but gave no reason for the departure. Bush, who did not name a successor, said he had accepted the resignation and thanked Goss for his service.

"Porter's tenure at the CIA was one of transition, where he's helped this agency become integrated into . . . the intelligence community," Bush said. "That was a tough job, and he's led ably." Bush said he had developed a "very close personal relationship" with Goss, who succeeded George J. Tenet in September 2004.

But senior administration officials said Bush had lost confidence in Goss, 67, almost from the beginning and decided months ago to replace him. In what was described as a difficult meeting in April with Negroponte, Goss was told to prepare to leave by May, according to several officials with knowledge of the conversation.

"There has been an open conversation for a few weeks, through Negroponte, with the acknowledgment of the president" about replacing Goss, said a senior White House official who discussed the internal deliberations on the condition of anonymity. Another senior White House official said Goss had always been viewed as a "transitional figure" who would leave by year's end. His departure was accelerated when Bush shook up his White House staff in hopes of beginning a political turnaround.

Members of Congress privately predicted that Hayden, who once enjoyed tremendous support on the Hill, would face a contentious confirmation process over the Bush administration's domestic spying program. Other sensitive issues, such as the existence of secret prisons abroad for terrorism suspects, also are likely to arise.

"The calculus is that would be true about anybody at this point. Given all the other stuff, like secret prisons, the confirmation is going to be tough for anybody," a senior administration official said.

Another candidate mentioned along with Hayden is Mary Margaret Graham, who was transferred from CIA headquarters after clashing with Goss's staff. She now coordinates intelligence collection for Negroponte. Homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend, a rumored potential candidate, is not in the running, officials said.

Negroponte became intelligence czar last year in a job created by Congress when it overhauled the nation's intelligence agencies in response to their failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Negroponte's role as the government's senior coordinator overseeing a web of intelligence agencies diminished Goss's job.

Goss was stripped of the title of director of central intelligence, which had been held by his predecessors in addition to the title of CIA director, and many of the duties were taken over by Negroponte. But Negroponte, a career ambassador whose last two posts were at the United Nations and in Iraq, has been under pressure from Congress in recent weeks to demonstrate that he is in charge of the intelligence community and able to make tough decisions.

Goss and Negroponte had been friends for years and were fraternity brothers at Yale, where they graduated in 1960. But turf battles erupted as Negroponte's operation grew and Goss was embattled within his own agency, where some officers viewed him as staunchly partisan and politically weak.

Negroponte replaced Goss in presiding over the president's daily intelligence briefing, and he worked to bring CIA personnel and some of its analytical functions into his growing operations. Those steps quickly put him at odds with his friend. Privately, Goss's associates said the two men clashed with increasing frequency in recent months, and they blamed Negroponte for hurting Goss's reputation with the president.

But administration officials said Goss never forged a strong relationship with Bush. "It just didn't click," one official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Goss's reserved personality and inability to master details of intelligence activities dampened the atmosphere of the president's morning intelligence briefing, which had been a central feature of the close relationship between Bush and Tenet. In one of his early interviews, Goss complained that he was spending hours preparing for the Oval Office sessions.

"Once Negroponte came in and Porter was no longer doing the president's daily briefings, he lost the opportunity to build the kind of relationship with the president that other directors had," said Mark Lowenthal, who was a senior adviser to Tenet and briefly to Goss before leaving the agency in March 2005.

Internally, Goss struggled to articulate a vision for an agency reeling from the intelligence failures of 9/11 and Iraq before the March 2003 invasion, current and former colleagues said. And Goss could not overcome a reputation as a partisan politician who worked congressional hours and appeared disinterested in his overseas intelligence counterparts. Goss also caused waves at the agency in dealing with complaints about his chief of staff, Patrick Murray. During a tense staff meeting, Goss told agency employees he did not handle personnel matters, according to people who attended.

In Goss's first days in office, his appointment of Michael Kostiw as executive director ended after it became public that Kostiw had been forced to leave the CIA under a cloud 20 years earlier. The subsequent search at the agency to find who leaked the information about Kostiw's past led the top two officers in the agency's clandestine service to resign in protest.

Kostiw's replacement, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, is the subject of a review by the CIA's inspector general. The agency is examining whether Foggo arranged for any contracts to be granted to companies associated with Brent R. Wilkes, a contractor and longtime friend of Foggo's who had connections to Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.).

Cunningham left Congress and was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for corruption. Foggo has said he has done nothing improper, and the agency has said the review is standard practice in such situations, not an indication of any wrongdoing. After Goss's announcement yesterday, Foggo told colleagues that he will resign next week. Last week, the agency confirmed that Foggo attended private poker games with Wilkes at a Washington hotel.

Over Goss's 18 months, more than a dozen senior officials -- several of whom were promoted under Goss -- resigned, retired early or requested reassignment. Robert Richer, who was head of the Near East division, served less than a year as the No. 2 official in the clandestine service before quitting in frustration over Goss's leadership last November. Richer then spent several days privately sharing his concerns with senior congressional leaders and Negroponte.

In the clandestine service alone, Goss lost one director, two deputy directors and at least a dozen department heads, station chiefs and division directors, many with the key language skills and experience he has said the agency needs. The agency is on its third counterterrorism chief since Goss arrived.

Goss was a young CIA case officer in the 1960s before entering Republican politics in the wealthy Florida community of Sanibel. He was elected to Congress and eventually became the chairman of the House intelligence panel. He had been preparing to retire from public service and spend more time on a family farm in Virginia when he was asked by Vice President Cheney to stay as chairman after the 2001 attacks. When Tenet resigned in mid-2004, Goss was nominated to succeed him.

Republicans joined Bush yesterday in thanking Goss but did not praise his tenure. Democrats said his leadership had been a failure.

"Regrettably, Porter Goss's tenure as director of the CIA was a tumultuous one," said Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.), senior Democrat on the intelligence panel. "We must have a leader with strong credentials, a demonstrated track record of independence and objectivity, and the ability to bring much needed harmony within the ranks."

Staff writers Dana Priest, Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Original Text

"...dissatisfaction with his leadership during a time of war" - sound like anyone else? Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rice don't have what it takes either, so why don't they resign?