A veteran CIA operations official who clashed with former agency Director Porter J. Goss was formally named the deputy CIA director yesterday, raising concerns among critics who say he will hamper reform at the agency.
Stephen R. Kappes, who is well-liked among CIA rank and file but who is viewed as someone supporting the status quo at the embattled agency, began work yesterday in his new role, a CIA statement said.
CIA Director Michael Hayden said Mr. Kappes “has a profound understanding of how this agency works, both here at headquarters and in the field,” the statement said.
Mr. Kappes, who has held positions within the CIA clandestine service, told agency employees in a message that he values “your expertise, your skills, your patriotism and your generosity to your colleagues.”
He had resigned in protest from the CIA in November 2004 along with one of his subordinates, Michael Sulik, after an incident in which, intelligence officials say, Mr. Sulik threw a stack of papers at senior Goss aide Patrick Murray during an argument in a meeting.
After the incident, Mr. Goss ordered Mr. Kappes to reassign Mr. Sulik outside CIA headquarters because of his behavior at the meeting. Instead, Mr. Kappes and Mr. Sulik both resigned.
The CIA has been under fire ever since the failures related to the September 11 attacks and subsequent botched assessments of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Under recent intelligence community reforms, the agency has been reduced from its central role as the lead agency among 15 intelligence groups to one more oriented toward gathering human intelligence.
One former senior intelligence official said Mr. Kappes’ appointment signals the end of reform at the CIA. “The bureaucrats have won” the battle to change the CIA, the former official said.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, recently wrote to President Bush that the appointment of Gen. Hayden as director and plans to name Mr. Kappes as his deputy “signal a retreat from needed reforms of the agency.”
“Regrettably, the appointment of Mr. Kappes sends a clear signal that the days of collaborative reform between the White House and this committee may be over,” Mr. Hoekstra said in the May 18 letter.
Mr. Hoekstra said he thinks Mr. Kappes will bring problems back to the CIA including “politicization” of the intelligence service.
Mr. Kappes appears to be part of a group of CIA officials who have undertaken a concerted effort to undermine Bush administration policies, Mr. Hoekstra stated, noting that Democrats in Congress who opposed Mr. Goss publicly supported Mr. Kappes’ return to the CIA. Mr. Goss resigned earlier this year.
Mr. Hoekstra said Mr. Kappes and Mr. Sulik tried to “bypass” congressional oversight committees as part of a “personal agenda.”
“Every day we suffer from the consequences of individuals promoting their personal agendas,” Mr. Hoekstra stated. “This is clearly a place at which we do not want or need to be.”