Goss seen as obstacle to CIA change

May 07, 2006|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- The choice of Gen. Michael V. Hayden of the Air Force as the new director of the CIA is only a first step in a planned overhaul to permanently change the mission and functions of the legendary spy agency, intelligence officials said yesterday.

Porter J. Goss, who was forced to resign Friday, was seen as an obstacle to an effort by John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, to focus the agency on its core mission of combating terrorism and stealing secrets abroad.

Hayden, who will be nominated to the post tomorrow, is Negroponte's deputy, and he is regarded as an enthusiastic champion of the agency's adoption of that narrower role.

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 that transformation. 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 is intended to move elsewhere.

"There will be a serious change to the structure of the agency," said one intelligence official, who, like other CIA officials and administration officials who were interviewed, was granted anonymity because the official is not allowed to speak publicly about intelligence matters.

Even as it turns its focus to intelligence collection, through the spying operations overseas that are run by the CIA's new national clandestine service, the CIA faces a challenge from the Defense Department, which is expanding its spying operations abroad.

Hayden has spent his career in the military, but his relationship with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has never been close, and a Bush administration official said yesterday that he was being selected, in part, because he had demonstrated an ability to set aside a parochial military mind-set and look at the broader picture.

Negroponte has had a difficult year trying to bring the Pentagon's vast intelligence operations under his control. Historically, the Pentagon has controlled more than 80 percent of the nation's intelligence budget.

The administration official said President Bush had chosen Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency, in part because of his success in running a large, complex organization. The official said Bush also believed that Hayden would improve morale - which has plummeted under Goss, who was regarded within the White House and the agency as an ineffectual leader.

As he leaves the agency, Goss is widely expected to be joined by other members of his inner circle, many of whom he brought with him to the CIA from Capitol Hill. Kyle Foggo, a longtime agency officer whom Goss elevated to the agency's No. 3 job, plans to resign from the agency in the coming days, a senior intelligence official said yesterday.

Foggo is a longtime friend of Brent R. Wilkes, one of the defense contractors whose role is described in the indictment this year of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a former Republican representative from California. Foggo's ties to Wilkes have been investigated by the CIA's inspector general.

Beyond those personnel moves, Hayden will inherit an agency in some disarray - if he is confirmed in the post, a process likely to involve a public review of his role in domestic electronic surveillance as director of the National Security Agency.

He will bring political clout that might be welcomed by the battered managers of the CIA, but some officers might resent him as a CIA outsider, a military man and a representative of Negroponte, according to former agency officials. Hayden would face the aftermath of a long list of problems that marked Goss' brief tenure.

Goss' team of brash former congressional staffers stirred bitter resentment, and the CIA director found himself cast as second fiddle to Negroponte. The Valerie Plame leak investigation strained relations with the White House.

The agency's role in the secret detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects led to charges of misconduct. Leaks prompted Goss to launch an internal campaign of polygraph examinations that resulted in the dismissal of a senior agency official.

A spokeswoman for Goss, Jennifer Dyck, defended the outgoing director's performance. "Director Goss is going to leave an agency that has bigger graduation classes of new officers than any other time in history," Dyck said. "There are more resumes coming to CIA, better recruiting, and better training of operatives."

When Goss took charge of the CIA in the fall of 2004, he talked about focusing the agency's work on its core mission of spying. Goss is a former clandestine officer, and intelligence officials say he has used his tenure to bulk up the agency's operations abroad, in part by opening new CIA stations and bases.

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