Thursday :: Sep 22, 2005

Porter Goss Brings About Plunging Morale Inside The Agency

by Steve

Interesting. Walter Pincus, who normally has the best contacts inside the CIA of any reporter inside the Beltway, ends up writing a story cribbed from Porter Goss’s prepared remarks to his own staff today, without any reaction from the Agency staff to what Goss said. Douglas Jehl of the New York Times goes a step farther than Pincus, and writes that Agency insiders and outsiders are complaining that Goss is having a hard time running the agency in the wake of the recent departure of Robert Richer, a senior official in the Directorate of Operations, who told the White House that he left because he has lost confidence in Goss. Yet the best reporting on the Goss speech and staff reaction came, not surprisingly, from Knight-Ridder’s Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay:

CIA Director Porter Goss faced tough questions Thursday after a speech to agency employees marking his one-year anniversary as head of the troubled spy agency, current and former intelligence officials said.
The unusually caustic session in the CIA auditorium underscored what current and former officials said are serious morale problems caused by the leadership style of Goss and his top aides and the departures of experienced senior intelligence officers from an agency on the front line of the fight against terrorism.
One intelligence official termed the session "bizarre" and suggested it was symptomatic of deeper turmoil at the agency.
Robert Richer, the No. 2 official in the agency's covert Directorate of Operations, the spy service, announced his resignation earlier this month, the latest in a string of top CIA managers who've left since Goss took over.
Another senior officer in the operations directorate who works on weapons of mass destruction issues and whose identity is kept secret informed his staff Thursday that he's also leaving, according to a former top CIA official.
In a question-and-answer session, several CIA officers expressed unhappiness, according to an official who witnessed the exchange.
"With all due respect ... I love the agency and respect you. It was a vanilla speech," one officer was quoted as telling Goss, pleading for "meat to chew on."
A second officer raised concerns about Richer's departure and the state of the operations directorate. In November, the top two leaders of the directorate, Steven Kappes and Michael Sulick, quit in a dispute with aides that Goss, a former Florida congressman, brought with him from Capitol Hill.
The current and former officials who described the session spoke on condition of anonymity because of their jobs, but said they were speaking out because of concern over the state of the CIA.
James Pavitt, Kappes' predecessor as chief of the agency's covert wing, said that while he hadn't yet heard of Thursday's exchanges, he wasn't surprised "that there is great, great unhappiness on the part of the men and women of the CIA," citing what he called a "lack of leadership."
Why did Pincus even bother to file a story that could have been written by a flack in the agency’s communications office?
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