Friday, November 19, 2004

CIA Director Porter J. Goss is moving ahead with a shake-up at the agency, aimed at changing an outdated and risk-averse spying bureaucracy, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

“In the days and weeks ahead of us,” Mr. Goss said in an internal message to CIA employees, “I will announce a series of changes — some involving procedures, organization, senior personnel, and areas of focus for our action.”

The memo on Monday stated that Mr. Goss was asked by President Bush to address the problems with U.S. intelligence that were revealed by the September 11 attacks and the failures related to estimates of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

One intelligence official close to Mr. Goss said the changes being considered by the new CIA leadership are wide-ranging and include an examination of the structure of the agency.

The goal will be to “emphasize a culture of taking risks,” the official said.

Mr. Goss, in his memo, outlined “rules of the road” for the CIA to follow and warned that agency employees “do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies.”

The comment was meant as an indirect criticism of Mr. Goss’ predecessor, George J. Tenet, who permitted CIA analyst Michael Scheuer to publish a book critical of the Bush administration during an election year under the name “Anonymous.”

Mr. Goss stated that recent intelligence failures have causedthe 14 agencies of the U.S. intelligence community to be “relentlessly scrutinized and criticized.”

“Intelligence-related issues have become the fodder of partisan food fights and turf-power skirmishes,” he said, adding that demands among policy-makers for intelligence have grown sharply.

However, he noted that the agency needs to be “smarter about how we do our work in this climate.”

The new director’s changes at the CIA’s Langley headquarters have sparked opposition and press disclosures aimed at undermining Mr. Goss, a former CIA officer who, until recently, was a Florida Republican congressman and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The first steps in CIA reform were marked by recent resignations of Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John E. McLaughlin and the two senior officials from the CIA’s espionage branch, the directorate of operations (DO).

“There is more to come,” said one agency official.

Mr. Goss said in his message that the leaders of the intelligence, operations and technical services branches of CIA “are the principal leaders of their disciplines and are fully charged by me to lead their organizations, consistent with my vision and direction.”

Mr. Goss also said the offices of public affairs, legislative affairs and office of general counsel “lead our agency with contacts outside of the agency” and will help keep the CIA “a secret organization.”

The current focus of Mr. Goss’ reorganization is the CIA’s espionage branch, the officials said.

The two espionage branch officials who resigned this week, Stephen R. Kappes, the deputy director of operations, and his deputy, Michael Sulick, did not agree with the new CIA leadership under Mr. Goss, which includes several staff members who worked for the House intelligence committee.

The departures prompted criticism from some CIA officials, who say the changes are undermining the agency.

Mr. Goss declined to be interviewed but said through a spokesman that he plans to discuss the changes at CIA in the future.

Officials said Mr. Goss’ plans for CIA can be understood from a House intelligence committee report made public in June that singled out the directorate of operations for harsh criticism, primarily saying it was unwilling to undertake risky missions.

The report said the CIA has resisted pressure from congressional overseers to improve “the way it conducts its HUMINT mission.”

HUMINT is shorthand for human intelligence.

The agency “continues down the road leading over a proverbial cliff,” the report said.

“The damage to the HUMINT mission through its misallocation and redirection of resources, poor prioritization of objectives, micromanagement of field operations, and a continued political aversion to operational risk is, in the Committee’s judgment, significant and could likely be long-lasting,” the report said.

Resistance to change within the espionage branch, the report said, is leading it to become “nothing more than a stilted bureaucracy incapable of even the slightest bit of success.”

“The nimble, flexible, core-mission oriented enterprise the DO once was, is becoming just a fleeting memory,” the report said. “With each passing day, it becomes harder to resurrect.”

The report noted that mismanagement of the CIA for a year or two in the mid-1990s “decimated” CIA capabilities.

The report blamed CIA spies for failing to gather intelligence on Iraq’s weapons programs as a primary cause of faulty intelligence analysis used by policy-makers in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Opposition to the internal reorganization appears to be led by James L. Pavitt, the top clandestine service officer who recently left the agency.

Mr. Pavitt told The Washington Post last month that he hoped the new leadership did not carry out “a wholesale change that would do damage to a strategic effort that has produced excellent work on terrorism and a variety of other important issues.”

A middle-level CIA official who favors changing the overly bureaucratic leadership said, “I can give them a whole list of people to fire.”

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