Goss Forced Out as CIA Director; Gen. Hayden Is Likely Successor
Goss Forced Out as CIA Director; Gen. Hayden Is Likely
By Dafna Linzer and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 6, 2006; A01
Porter J. Goss was forced to step down yesterday as
CIA director, ending a turbulent 18-month tenure
marked by an exodus of some of the agency's top talent
and growing White House dissatisfaction with his
leadership during a time of war.
The likely successor to Goss is Gen. Michael V.
Hayden, the former director of the National Security
Agency and now deputy to Director of National
Intelligence John D. Negroponte, senior administration
officials said. He could be named as soon as Monday.
Seated next to President Bush in the Oval Office,
Goss, a Republican congressman from Florida before he
took over the CIA, said he was "stepping aside" but
gave no reason for the departure. Bush, who did not
name a successor, said he had accepted the resignation
and thanked Goss for his service.
"Porter's tenure at the CIA was one of transition,
where he's helped this agency become integrated into .
. . the intelligence community," Bush said. "That was
a tough job, and he's led ably." Bush said he had
developed a "very close personal relationship" with
Goss, who succeeded George J. Tenet in September 2004.
But senior administration officials said Bush had lost
confidence in Goss, 67, almost from the beginning and
decided months ago to replace him. In what was
described as a difficult meeting in April with
Negroponte, Goss was told to prepare to leave by May,
according to several officials with knowledge of the
"There has been an open conversation for a few weeks,
through Negroponte, with the acknowledgment of the
president" about replacing Goss, said a senior White
House official who discussed the internal
deliberations on the condition of anonymity. Another
senior White House official said Goss had always been
viewed as a "transitional figure" who would leave by
year's end. His departure was accelerated when Bush
shook up his White House staff in hopes of beginning a
Members of Congress privately predicted that Hayden,
who once enjoyed tremendous support on the Hill, would
face a contentious confirmation process over the Bush
administration's domestic spying program. Other
sensitive issues, such as the existence of secret
prisons abroad for terrorism suspects, also are likely
"The calculus is that would be true about anybody at
this point. Given all the other stuff, like secret
prisons, the confirmation is going to be tough for
anybody," a senior administration official said.
Another candidate mentioned along with Hayden is Mary
Margaret Graham, who was transferred from CIA
headquarters after clashing with Goss's staff. She now
coordinates intelligence collection for Negroponte.
Homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend, a
rumored potential candidate, is not in the running,
Negroponte became intelligence czar last year in a job
created by Congress when it overhauled the nation's
intelligence agencies in response to their failure to
prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Negroponte's role as the government's senior
coordinator overseeing a web of intelligence agencies
diminished Goss's job.
Goss was stripped of the title of director of central
intelligence, which had been held by his predecessors
in addition to the title of CIA director, and many of
the duties were taken over by Negroponte. But
Negroponte, a career ambassador whose last two posts
were at the United Nations and in Iraq, has been under
pressure from Congress in recent weeks to demonstrate
that he is in charge of the intelligence community and
able to make tough decisions.
Goss and Negroponte had been friends for years and
were fraternity brothers at Yale, where they graduated
in 1960. But turf battles erupted as Negroponte's
operation grew and Goss was embattled within his own
agency, where some officers viewed him as staunchly
partisan and politically weak.
Negroponte replaced Goss in presiding over the
president's daily intelligence briefing, and he worked
to bring CIA personnel and some of its analytical
functions into his growing operations. Those steps
quickly put him at odds with his friend. Privately,
Goss's associates said the two men clashed with
increasing frequency in recent months, and they blamed
Negroponte for hurting Goss's reputation with the
But administration officials said Goss never forged a
strong relationship with Bush. "It just didn't click,"
one official said, speaking on the condition of
anonymity. Goss's reserved personality and inability
to master details of intelligence activities dampened
the atmosphere of the president's morning intelligence
briefing, which had been a central feature of the
close relationship between Bush and Tenet. In one of
his early interviews, Goss complained that he was
spending hours preparing for the Oval Office sessions.
"Once Negroponte came in and Porter was no longer
doing the president's daily briefings, he lost the
opportunity to build the kind of relationship with the
president that other directors had," said Mark
Lowenthal, who was a senior adviser to Tenet and
briefly to Goss before leaving the agency in March
Internally, Goss struggled to articulate a vision for
an agency reeling from the intelligence failures of
9/11 and Iraq before the March 2003 invasion, current
and former colleagues said. And Goss could not
overcome a reputation as a partisan politician who
worked congressional hours and appeared disinterested
in his overseas intelligence counterparts. Goss also
caused waves at the agency in dealing with complaints
about his chief of staff, Patrick Murray. During a
tense staff meeting, Goss told agency employees he did
not handle personnel matters, according to people who
In Goss's first days in office, his appointment of
Michael Kostiw as executive director ended after it
became public that Kostiw had been forced to leave the
CIA under a cloud 20 years earlier. The subsequent
search at the agency to find who leaked the
information about Kostiw's past led the top two
officers in the agency's clandestine service to resign
Kostiw's replacement, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, is the
subject of a review by the CIA's inspector general.
The agency is examining whether Foggo arranged for any
contracts to be granted to companies associated with
Brent R. Wilkes, a contractor and longtime friend of
Foggo's who had connections to Rep. Randy "Duke"
Cunningham left Congress and was sentenced to more
than eight years in prison for corruption. Foggo has
said he has done nothing improper, and the agency has
said the review is standard practice in such
situations, not an indication of any wrongdoing. After
Goss's announcement yesterday, Foggo told colleagues
that he will resign next week. Last week, the agency
confirmed that Foggo attended private poker games with
Wilkes at a Washington hotel.
Over Goss's 18 months, more than a dozen senior
officials -- several of whom were promoted under Goss
-- resigned, retired early or requested reassignment.
Robert Richer, who was head of the Near East division,
served less than a year as the No. 2 official in the
clandestine service before quitting in frustration
over Goss's leadership last November. Richer then
spent several days privately sharing his concerns with
senior congressional leaders and Negroponte.
In the clandestine service alone, Goss lost one
director, two deputy directors and at least a dozen
department heads, station chiefs and division
directors, many with the key language skills and
experience he has said the agency needs. The agency is
on its third counterterrorism chief since Goss
Goss was a young CIA case officer in the 1960s before
entering Republican politics in the wealthy Florida
community of Sanibel. He was elected to Congress and
eventually became the chairman of the House
intelligence panel. He had been preparing to retire
from public service and spend more time on a family
farm in Virginia when he was asked by Vice President
Cheney to stay as chairman after the 2001 attacks.
When Tenet resigned in mid-2004, Goss was nominated to
Republicans joined Bush yesterday in thanking Goss but
did not praise his tenure. Democrats said his
leadership had been a failure.
"Regrettably, Porter Goss's tenure as director of the
CIA was a tumultuous one," said Sen. John D.
Rockefeller IV (W.Va.), senior Democrat on the
intelligence panel. "We must have a leader with strong
credentials, a demonstrated track record of
independence and objectivity, and the ability to bring
much needed harmony within the ranks."
Staff writers Dana Priest, Peter Baker and Jim
VandeHei and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.