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Inside Politics

Goss continues effort to reshape CIA

Agency chief says he'll announce changes soon

From David Ensor
CNN Washington Bureau

Porter Goss, a former CIA officer, was picked by President Bush in August to lead the agency.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
George W. Bush
Management Changes

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a message to CIA staff Monday, Porter Goss, the director of central intelligence, said he will soon announce changes in "procedures, organization, senior personnel and areas of focus for our organization," according to officials who have read it.

The e-mail message was sent out hours after the resignations of two top CIA officials over personality and policy disputes with staff members that Goss, the former House Intelligence Committee chairman, brought with him from Congress.

The message appeared intended to reassure CIA staff that Goss wants to be a non-partisan director at a time when officials are waiting to hear how many of them will be asked to leave as he seeks to put his mark on the agency.

Goss told CIA personnel he wants the intelligence they deliver to "let the facts alone speak to policymakers," amid concerns expressed by some Democrats that the new director's immediate staff is too partisan.

"Intelligence-related issues have become the fodder of partisan food fights and turf power skirmishes. All the while, the demand for our services and products against a ruthless and unconventional enemy has expanded geometrically, and we are expected to deliver instantly," Goss said.

U.S. intelligence has "reason to be proud of our achievements," he said, along with a "need to do better."

Goss said he is actively looking for a new deputy director to replace John McLaughlin, who announced Friday he will leave soon. McLaughlin, who ran the agency after Director George Tenet resigned earlier this year, said he was leaving for personal reasons.

Steven Kappes and Michael J. Sulick, the top leaders of the CIA's directorate of operations, resigned Monday. The directorate of operations is the agency's clandestine service.

Deputy Director John Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's search for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, quit Thursday.

In August, President Bush tapped Goss, a former CIA officer and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to lead the agency. During his confirmation hearings, Goss pledged to apply "tough love" to the CIA.

Sources say Kappes and Sulick clashed with deputies Goss brought in from Capitol Hill, where he served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee before being chosen by President Bush as director of central intelligence.

Top Republican lawmakers voiced support for Goss after the resignations of McLaughlin and Scheuer raised questions about a possible upheaval in the agency.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said such turnover was to be expected as new leadership takes over.

"The aggressiveness with which we will continue to fight the war on terror for freedom and liberty and democracy throughout the world will not be affected in any way by any sort of personnel changes here or any sort of reorganization of the intelligence functions of entities here," said Frist, a Republican from Tennessee.

But critics suggest Goss may be doing more harm than good with his efforts to reshape the nation's flagship spy agency. California Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, accused Goss of bringing a "highly partisan, inexperienced staff" with him when he took office in September.

"The agency seems in free-fall in Washington, and that is a very, very bad omen in the middle of a war," Harman said.

Harman said Goss has the right to make changes at the spy agency, but he needs "a management team in place that can help achieve objectives."

"To make those changes effectively, he has to do them with an experienced staff, and he doesn't have one," Harman said. "Many of us worked with that staff in the House. Frankly, on both sides of the aisle in our committee, we were happy to see them go."

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, called the CIA "a dysfunctional agency, and in some ways a rogue agency" that needed to be reformed. He accused some CIA insiders of leaking information to damage President Bush politically in the months before the election.

"Porter Goss is on the right track," McCain said on ABC's "This Week." "He is being savaged by these people that want the status quo, and the status quo is not satisfactory."

The CIA "is not providing the intelligence information necessary for the president to conduct the war on terror," he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said the CIA "failed this country" with incorrect assessments of Iraq's weapons programs before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

Elaine Quijano contributed to this report.

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