Sunday, May 07, 2006

Time - Why Goss is Gone - By MICHAEL DUFFY

Time - Sunday, May. 07, 2006
Why Goss is Gone - How John Negroponte won control of the CIA, and what he plans next to consolidate rival agencies and his power

Covert operations rarely come off exactly as planned. But last week's coup at the CIA, orchestrated by White House officials and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, went only slightly awry—and only at the last moment. Bush officials had hoped to take the weekend to quietly prepare for the surprise announcement that Air Force General Michael Hayden would replace embattled cia Director Porter Goss, with the two appearing together at the White House early this week. But Goss, a former spook who used to run covert operations in Latin America, wanted to control the choreography. "If we're gonna do this," Goss said, "let's go ahead and do it."

So a few hours after tendering his resignation to White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten Friday morning, Goss and George W. Bush conducted an unusual Oval Office fare-thee-well for reporters, a show of calm that was designed to convey continuity at an agency that has known nothing but turbulence for the past five years.

Because it had been rumored about for months, Goss's departure was one of those Washington episodes that are more sudden than surprising. Goss was alarmed to discover, within a few months after taking over, how hard the job was. He lost some fights with rival intelligence agencies, particularly at Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon. He wasn't a very good manager, and while he had been put in the job to assert control over cia careerists, the flow of experienced hands opting for the exit on his watch was steady and worrisome.

But most of all, he had been hired as CIA chief at the very moment the job began to lose its clout. Less than a year after Goss stepped into the Langley, Va., post, Bush named Negroponte director of national intelligence (DNI) and gave him the authority to oversee and direct 16 intelligence shops—among them the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the FBI. Armed with new powers created by Congress, Negroponte was supposed to make the hidebound agencies work together and share information, something they had largely failed to do before 9/11. Goss's departure was, above all, a signal that Negroponte was finally exercising his powers and trying to slip the stray agencies into harness.

The move was overdue. Negroponte struggled in his first year as spy czar as many of the well-entrenched agencies refused to bend to his will. The dni's office felt the cia was slow to lend a hand when the dni was setting up his office. The fbi complained, as it often does, about being underbudgeted. And Negroponte had yet to prove to skeptics in Congress that he could wrest control of the Pentagon's massive intelligence assets from Rumsfeld and put them in service not just for military commanders but also for the entire intelligence community.

Yet in recent weeks, Negroponte and his deputy, the hard-charging Hayden, have driven deep into the cia's backyard, chewing up its closely guarded turf and trying to bring the agency under their grip. In April Hayden let it be known that his office would be taking over the critical job of terrorism analysisconnecting the dots in all the raw data gathered on terrorists—a role the cia had jealously guarded for decades. In an unusual public speech, Hayden likened the cia's slow-to-change attitude about roles and missions to "crowding the ball." Negroponte also fought the agency's objections when he pushed to share more intelligence with spy chiefs of other countries—something the cia had opposed for years because agents feared that wider distribution could compromise sources. And in March, Negroponte asked the cia to provide him with a rundown of all its station chiefs worldwide. It was a natural inventory request, but agency officials took umbrage at it anyway. Negroponte, for his part, hinted last month in an interview with Time that he believed cia officials were being far too turf conscious. "Station chiefs are for Porter Goss to choose. I am not interested in directing operations ... Am I interested in what they are doing? You're darn right I am," he said.

All those setbacks, however inevitable, were wounding for Goss. The Yale graduate spent a decade after college as a clandestine CIA officer, mostly overseas. After serving nearly 16 years in Congress, much of it on the House Intelligence Committee, Goss eyed Negroponte's job. When the dni began to take control of the agency that Goss had been named to run, Goss had nowhere to turn. The agency's normally loyal allies on Capitol Hill could not help him fight back because nearly all the lawmakers on the intelligence-oversight committees believed, if anything, that Negroponte wasn't moving fast enough with reform.

And when Goss resisted, Negroponte and Hayden fought back—and played for keeps: DNI officials began to speak critically of Goss to his subordinates, saying he simply wasn't engaged. U.S. officials told Time that Hayden complained about Goss to members of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a group of private intelligence experts who report directly to the President. Hayden, said the officials, was highly critical of the agency's refusal to get with the DNI program. Then there was the X factor in Goss's departure: his judgment about people. After bringing with him a boarding party of staff members who seemed to specialize in mishandling personnel matters, Goss promoted Kyle (Dusty) Foggo to be the cia's executive director and top budget chief. Foggo is now at the center of a growing investigation into a federal bribery case that has already sent former California Congressman Randy (Duke) Cunningham to prison for more than eight years. A source close to the investigation tells Time that the Justice Department is investigating reports that one of Cunningham's benefactors, Pentagon and cia contractor Brent Wilkes, a buddy of Foggo's since high school, provided Foggo with improper gifts, such as lavish vacations. A cia spokesman says Foggo "denies any improper gifts," and Wilkes' lawyer has similarly denied any wrongdoing. Goss's allies insisted the ex-spook's decision to leave was a mutual one. One Goss friend says that Goss resisted the DNI reforms not as a matter of turf but because he believed the CIA would lose critical skills if key missions were shifted to the DNI. "Porter was not just defending the agency's turf but also the principle of 'Do no harm,'" the friend says. "There were tensions. And what I think you had was a decision mutually arrived at."

If, as expected, Hayden takes over the CIA, the agency will more than ever become an extension of Negroponte's growing empire. A friendly and intense four-star, Hayden would be the first active-duty military man at the CIA's helm since Admiral Stansfield Turner ran the place for President Jimmy Carter. In the half-raw, half-coded patois some military men often favor, Hayden told Time in a lengthy interview last month that only a strong central authority would make the intelligence agencies work together. "Let me tell you what we've learned," Hayden said. "There is no way to get a self-aware, self-synchronizing intelligence system without a kick-ass center because no one plays nice with each other voluntarily."

Until early last year, Hayden ran the supersecret National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md., which covertly eavesdrops on conversations worldwide. It was under Hayden that the Bush Administration launched a secret, warrantless wiretapping program that began capturing conversations of private citizens at home, causing an explosion of criticism last December for being outside the legal process. Senators will question Hayden closely about what other conversations the Federal Government may be secretly monitoring.

Goss's departure means Negroponte's next test will be facing down the Pentagon, which has steadily been gathering clout in intelligence since the war on terrorism began. Everyone knows that battle will make the tug of war with the CIA look like a warm-up, if only because Rumsfeld's skills as an infighter are unsurpassed. But Negroponte will at least have an ally in Michael Hayden at the CIA.

—Reported by Mike Allen, Timothy J. Burger, Massimo Calabresi and Douglas Waller/Washington


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