"On a personal note," the statement continued, "I want to thank John for the kindness he has shown me as Director of Central Intelligence."
In addition to bringing in his former aides from the Hill, Goss plans to dilute the authority of the Directorate of Operations by removing the director as the central figure in appointing country station chiefs overseas and regional division chiefs at headquarters.
"I definitely think all this is disrupting people's work," one agency official said. "Everyone is waiting for the centipede to drop all his shoes."
Associates said McLaughlin was disappointed by Goss's management style and was particularly disheartened by a series of recent confrontations between Murray and senior leaders.
In one of those confrontations, on Nov. 5, 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.
Goss, a former CIA case officer and Republican legislator from Florida, promised during his confirmation hearing to set aside partisan politics and work to strengthen the CIA clandestine service. But current and former officials have said that his plans have been unclear to the senior clandestine service officials who would be responsible for carrying them out. In addition, they have been concerned by the backgrounds of the senior staff Goss has hired.
Michael V. Kostiw, who was Goss's first choice for executive director -- the agency's third-ranking official -- withdrew his name after The Washington Post reported that he had left the agency 20 years ago after having been arrested for stealing a package of bacon.
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. It was repeatedly noted by present and past clandestine officers that Jakub had a limited career at the agency, first as an analyst and later as a case officer.
"He never distinguished himself before he left," a former boss said.