The White House on Saturday strongly denied that CIA director Porter Goss had resigned his job because he had lost the confidence of US President George W. Bush.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino told reporters it was "categorically untrue" that the president had lost confidence in the departing CIA chief.
She said that Bush felt Goss had kept the focus on winning the war on terror and had also played a pivotal role in transforming the CIA and integrating it into the broader intelligence community.
Goss abruptly resigned as CIA director on Friday, plunging the embattled US spy agency into new uncertainty as it seeks to rebuild from a series of intelligence failures in the war on terrorism and Iraq.
No reason was given for the resignation which was announced by Bush at the White House.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the removal of Goss was only the first step in a planned overhaul of the legendary spy agency to permanently change its mission and functions.
Citing unnamed intelligence officials, the newspaper said that the choice of General Michael Hayden as the new director of the CIA is meant to further that reform.
Goss was seen as an obstacle to efforts by John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, to focus the agency on its core mission of fighting terrorism and stealing secrets abroad, the report said.
Hayden, who will be nominated to the post tomorrow, is currently Negroponte's deputy and he is regarded as an enthusiastic champion of the agency's adoption of that narrower role, the Times said.
A senior intelligence official said that Hayden, in a recent presentation to the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, had sharply criticized Goss for resisting the transformation, the paper said.
Goss was seen as trying to protect the CIA's longtime role as the government's premier center for intelligence analysis, but under Hayden, much of that function would probably move elsewhere, according to the Times.