We have many stories about turmoil at the CIA. David Brooks provides a helpful starting point - he casts this as an attempt by the Bush Administration to take control of an overly independent CIA.
It is critical to bear in mind two Institutional Imperatives. Any bureaucracy, certainly including the CIA, will resist change and resent supervision. The re-election of George Bush was, by these lights, contrary to the institutional interests of the CIA. This is true regardless of how one thinks "The CIA" (all ten thousand of them) felt about the war, Dick Cheney, or anything else.
The CIA, like any other bureaucracy, wants to secure its independence. The ultimate goal is to be like J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. And the CIA can best pursue this goal when government in Washington is divided - Republicans in the White House with Democrats in Congress, or the opposite - it doesn't matter. As long as power, the CIA can play both sides against the muddle.
Let's take a brief historical diversion. The Church Commission prompted a series of reforms of the CIA with its report in 1976. Since then, however, government in Washington has almost always been divided. We had four years, under Jimmy Carter, when the Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. Let's note that this was the first post-Church attempt to reform the CIA under Stansfield Turner, and is often cited as the low-water mark for the Agency's morale (but records were made to be broken...).
The Democrats controlled the House through 1994 (and the Senate from 1987 through 1994), which covers Reagan and Bush I. Bill Clinton had two good years before the Republicans took control of Congress [Excellent background at QandO]. And finally, Republicans had a brief flicker of full control before Sen. Jeffords defected in the summer of 2001, and have had full contol since the Nov. 2002 mid-term elections.
So, simply in order to restore a balance of power in Washington, the savvy bureaucrats in the CIA should have been pulling for John Kerry, and perhaps they were. However, we now have the unusual situation of a President comitted to reforming the CIA while backed by majorities in both houses of Congress.
It is important to keep that in mind when reading the various stories coming out. What, one must wonder, is the real agenda of the people providing the helpful leaks to the eager reporter - are they simply trying to light candles of truth and illuminate a Better America, or are they trying toss their rider?
That said, these seem to be the key stories:
...Yesterday, the agency official who oversees foreign operations, Deputy Director of Operations Stephen R. Kappes, tendered his resignation after a confrontation with Murray. Goss and the White House pleaded with Kappes to reconsider and he agreed to delay his decision until Monday, the officials said.
Several other senior clandestine service officers are threatening to leave, current and former agency officials said.
Here is a great excerpt for the Human Resources people out there:
In one of those confrontations, on Nov. 5, [New Guy brought in by New Guy Porter Goss] Murray raised the issue of leaks with the associate deputy director of counterintelligence. Referring to previous media leaks regarding personnel, he said that if anything in the newly appointed executive director's personnel file made it into the media, the counterintelligence official "would be held responsible," according to one agency official and two former colleagues with knowledge of the conversation.
All three sources gave the following account:
The associate deputy director of counterintelligence, a highly respected case officer whose name is being withheld because she is undercover, told Michael Sulick, the associate deputy director of operations, about the threat. Sulick told his superior, Kappes, and both sought a meeting with Goss to complain. Goss, Murray, Kappes and Sulick met to discuss the matter. After Goss left, Sulick "got in Murray's space," according to one of his associates whose account was corroborated by another. Murray then demanded that Kappes fire Sulick. Kappes refused, and told Goss that he would resign. Goss and other White House officials appealed to Kappes to delay his decision until Monday.
I'm a bit hazy on the principle being defended here. Is it, "If my people can't leak, I quit"? Or maybe, "If my people can't 'get in your space', I quit"? But I wasn't there.
Here is a Sunday follow-up by the same reporters:
Within the past month, four former deputy directors of operations have tried to offer CIA Director Porter J. Goss advice about changing the clandestine service without setting off a rebellion, but Goss has declined to speak to any of them, said former CIA officials aware of the communications.
The four senior officials represent nearly two decades of experience leading the Directorate of Operations under both Republican and Democratic presidents. The officials were dismayed by the reaction and were concerned that Goss has isolated himself from the agency's senior staff, said former clandestine service officers aware of the offers.
Shorter - the new guy just isn't getting it done, and we only want to help. Sure, that may be true. And getting it into the WaPo (but only page 6) may help, too.
Finally, we have the full, scary "purge" story from Newsday. The reporter, Knut Royce, had good contacts on the Plame affair, for whatever that is worth. My guess - there was certainly a theory that some folks at the CIA were hyping the Plame affair to get back at the White House; if those are Royce's sources, here we go again.
[Memeorandum] CIA Plans To Purge Its Agency
The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.
"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."
Anonymous sources telling scary stories. And Halloween's over.
What does it mean? Are these new guys brought in by Porter Goss qualified, or just hacks? The key to this story is contained in the conclusion to the WaPo's "Deputy Chief Resigns" story:
More generally, Goss's aides arrived at the CIA with harsh views of the clandestine service. Their views were laid out in a House intelligence committee report in June. "There is a dysfunctional denial of any need for corrective action," the report said. The clandestine service suffers from "misallocation and redirection of resources, poor prioritization of objectives, micromanagement of field operations and a continued political aversion to operational risk."
The report was drafted primarily by Jay Jakub, whom Goss appointed to the newly created position of special assistant for operations and analysis. The House report's critique brought on a tough response from then-CIA Director George J. Tenet and led to a near-breakdown in relations between the agency and the panel staff.
Here is Tenet's response. I am still casting about for cogent commentary on the House report. And, in full caveat mode, I should note that even if their analysis of the current problems at the CIA was brilliant, it does not follow that these are the guys to implement reforms.
UPDATE: I put in a link to info about the newly appointed executive director, since that was the cause of the dust-up. Apparently, asking CIA agents to keep secrets is an unreasonable request.
An undercover officer known as "Dusty" has been appointed executive director of the CIA, making him the agency's third highest-ranking official, a U.S. intelligence official said Friday.
Dusty's full name will be made public after the agency has established that revealing his identity won't compromise any classified or ongoing activities, the official said.
UPDATE 2: John McCain opines on ABC's "This Week", as reported in the WaPo:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) yesterday supported CIA Director Porter J. Goss's shake-up of the intelligence agency, which he described as "dysfunctional" and not providing President Bush with the information needed to conduct the war on terrorism.
Reacting to stories about potential resignations of CIA officials in response to actions taken by Goss and his staff, McCain, appearing on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," said, "A shake-up is absolutely necessary."
EVEN MORE: From the Monday WaPo, Kappes and Sulick will both resign.