Sun, May 07, 2006 - Page 9 News List

Goss' downfall is just the latest of many troubles for the CIA


The CIA is meant to keep its cloak and dagger activities behind closed doors, but everyone seems to know about its internal turmoil, which has worsened with the departure on Friday of its director Porter Goss.

The world's biggest spy agency was hauled across the coals by Congress for its failure to detect the plot behind the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

It was also blamed for the faulty weapons of mass destruction intelligence used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Following recommendations made by the official Sept. 11 inquiry, Goss took over in September 2004 with the mission of recruiting more and better spies abroad, and making sure their information gets the treatment it deserves at home.

Goss replaced George Tenet, who had resigned earlier that year under the shadow of the agency's intelligence failures.

In February last year US President George W. Bush dealt a new blow to CIA prestige when he named veteran diplomat John Negroponte as director of national intelligence, in charge of all spy agencies including the CIA.

Goss, a former CIA agent who became a Republican powerbroker in Congress, upset the US spy establishment when he named some of his Congressional associates to top jobs at the agency and used strongarm tactics to advance reforms.

Deputy CIA director John McLaughlin, who had been interim director while waiting for Goss to arrive, quit in November 2004.

The deputy director in charge of foreign operations, Stephen Kappes, and several other senior clandestine service officers also left in the months after Goss arrived.

"He came in at a difficult moment, and I think got off to a rocky start," McLaughlin told CNN television on Friday.

"Porter Goss came in at a time when the challenges were particularly difficult, hard to overcome, and when the agency was struggling to regain its balance and the traditional elan than it has had over the years," he said.

This year Goss tried to crack down on leaks from within the organization.

Investigations were started following press reports about secret CIA prisons in various parts of the world and that Bush had authorized the monitoring of US residents without the warrant that is normally required. Both set off political storms for the White House.

Media reports said that lie detectors were used on CIA officials to find out who was the source of the leaks. Goss publicly expressed his anger, saying that the leaks threatened US security.

In a rare move, the agency last month fired a senior female analyst, Mary McCarthy, who was accused of divulging classified information to journalists. McCarthy, who earlier worked for the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, was a few months short of retiring.

She denied giving away information about the secret prisons or wiretaps, but admitted she had spoken to journalists without getting permission from a superior.

More recently, the CIA has been under an ethics cloud after its number three official, executive director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, became the subject of a CIA Inspector General investigation over contracts that he supervised.

Goss's resignation on Friday came as a surprise and no reason was given for it.

But opposition Democrats seized upon the resignation to step up their campaign against the Republican White House.

"I am very worried about Americas intelligence community, particularly the CIA," said Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Senate intelligence committee.

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