Wed, Nov 17, 2004 - Page 7 News List

CIA turmoil led to spy departures

PUNISHMENT?Former agents and others say the new director and his team may be following orders in punishing the agency for its failures and leaks

AP , Washington

The top two officials in the CIA's clandestine service have resigned after confrontations with the agency's new leadership in an unusually public shake-up at the nation's spy service.

The CIA's Deputy Director for Operations Stephen Kappes and his immediate deputy, Michael Sulick, told colleagues at a morning meeting that they are leaving the agency. It's unclear if they elected to depart or were asked to step down.

Both men were part of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, or clandestine service, which is responsible for covert operations around the globe.

Former agency officials said there are concerns that some officers in the CIA's counterterrorist center, which is under the operations directorate, and elsewhere may be asked to resign, or may be told that they no longer have a future at the agency.

"It is very fair to say there is tremendous turmoil in the middle ranks of the clandestine service today," said Vince Cannistraro, former CIA counterterrorism chief. "There may be eight people pushed out."

Signals from elsewhere pointed to internal conflict. Speaking on condition of anonymity, former officials described intense friction within the agency as Goss gets settled. Goss brought with him four staff members from the House Intelligence Committee, which he led for nearly eight years ending in August. Since then, Kappes and Sulick have been involved in heated debates -- some have described them as feuds -- with those senior aides to Goss.

Cannistraro said there is concern within the agency that Vice President Dick Cheney is ordering changes to avenge leaks to the media indicating there was no connection between former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network.

A former head of the Directorate of Operations, Thomas Twetten, described the situation at the CIA as "a disaster."

"What is happening is that somebody in high places -- or several persons in high places -- have decided that CIA should be punished," said Twetten, who did his CIA training with Goss and has been trying to reach him in recent weeks.

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