Central Intelligence Agency is reported to be in turmoil. The
top two managers of the agency's clandestine service have quit,
as have several other high-ranking career officials. The reasons
for some of the resignations are murky.
As a secret spy agency, the CIA always prefers the shadows to the
spotlight. But it finds itself in the glare of publicity yet again
as newly installed CIA director Porter Goss takes up his post.
The agency's top clandestine services officer, Stephen Kappes,
and his deputy, Michael Sulick, turned in their resignations Monday.
The second-in-command at the CIA, John McLaughlin, resigned last
week, citing personal reasons.
Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA unit tracking Osama bin Laden
and who had anonymously written two books, also quit the agency
last week in order to speak publicly. In a VOA interview, he says
news of the high-level resignations swept quickly through the corridors
of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia outside Washington.
"The rumors were flying in the agency," he said. "Did
it have something to do with personal confrontations?
Was it a housecleaning based on a perception that somehow the CIA
the Democratic Party and not the Republican
Party? I certainly hope that the latter is not the case because I
think it's an inaccurate opinion."
A Congressional committee, headed by former Congressman Goss,
and the commission investigating the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2001 were both highly critical of the performance of the CIA
and other agencies prior to the attacks.
Some accounts say an abrasive manner by Director Goss and his
aides towards the clandestine service sparked the resignations.
Others allege that Mr. Goss has embarked on a partisan purge for
perceived agency bias against President Bush and his policies.
Republican Senator John McCain says Mr. Goss has every right to
put his own imprint on the CIA, and that the new director is being
unfairly demonized by entrenched career employees at the spy agency.
"He is being savaged by these people that want the status quo," said
Mr. McCain. "And the status quo is not satisfactory. This is a
dysfunctional agency and in some ways a rogue agency."
Congresswoman Jane Harman, a Democrat on the House Intelligence
Committee, says changes are needed at the CIA, but adds that Director
Goss is going about it in a needlessly abrasive manner.
"He should be doing them in a way that sends positive signals
through the ranks and doesn't have all kinds of people quitting
and talking to newspapers," advised Ms. Harman.
However, former CIA official Michael Scheuer says career spies
are angry that the clandestine service has, in his words, been
made a scapegoat for intelligence lapses on Iraq and the September
"I think the main thing is an accumulation of frustration within
the clandestine service over the way it's been condemned, first,
by the Goss-Shelby Commission in the Congress, and then the 9-11
Commission," he said.
Mr. Scheuer's two books, published under the pen name Anonymous,
were sharp critiques of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts and were perceived
in some quarters as CIA-sanctioned criticism of President Bush.
They were cleared by agency authorities before publication, and
Mr. Scheuer had extraordinary latitude to give media interviews
without prior permission.
But Mr. Scheuer says that not long before resigning, he found
his free access to the media cut off after he successfully dispelled
the impression his books were anti-Bush.
"As long as the book was being misinterpreted as an attack on
the president, I was allowed free access to the media. But I worked
very hard in interviews to turn that around, to try to explain
what the book was about. And, for whatever reason, once I was successful
on that issue and the book was being reviewed and talked about
in the proper interpretation, or at least the interpretation that
I intended, they pulled the rug out," said Mr. Scheuer.
In an message to CIA employees cited in the Washington Post, Director
Goss said the agency should brace for more changes ahead.