Within the past month, four former deputy directors of operations have tried to offer CIA Director Porter J. Goss advice about changing the clandestine service without setting off a rebellion, but Goss has declined to speak to any of them, said former CIA officials aware of the communications.
The four senior officials represent nearly two decades of experience leading the Directorate of Operations under both Republican and Democratic presidents. The officials were dismayed by the reaction and were concerned that Goss has isolated himself from the agency's senior staff, said former clandestine service officers aware of the offers.
Former CIA officials say Director Porter J. Goss refused to speak with four ex-deputy directors of operations concerned about his management style.
(Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
The senior operations officials "wanted to talk as old colleagues and tell him to stop what he was doing the way he was doing it," said a former senior official familiar with the effort.
Last week, Deputy Director John E. McLaughlin retired after a series of confrontations between senior operations officials and Goss's top aide, Patrick Murray. Days before, the chief of the clandestine service, Stephen R. Kappes, said he would resign rather than carry out Murray's demand to fire Kappes's deputy, Michael Sulick, for challenging Murray's authority.
Goss and the White House asked Kappes to delay his decision until tomorrow, but they are actively considering his replacement, several current and former CIA officials said.
Kappes, whose accomplishments include persuading Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to renounce weapons of mass destruction this year, began removing personal photos from his office walls yesterday, associates said.
A handful of other senior undercover operations officers have talked seriously about resigning, as soon as tomorrow.
"Each side doesn't understand the other's culture very well," one former senior operations officer said. "There is a way to do this elegantly. You don't have to humiliate people. You bring in people with really weak credentials, and everyone is going to rally around the flag."
Agency officials have criticized as inexperienced the four former Hill staff members Goss brought with him. Goss's first choice for executive director -- the agency's third-ranking official -- withdrew his name after The Washington Post reported that he left the agency 20 years ago after having been arrested for shoplifting.
Through his CIA spokesman, Goss, a former CIA case officer and chairman of the House intelligence committee, declined to comment about these matters.
At his Senate confirmation hearing Sept. 14, Goss said, "There is too much management at headquarters," which he said was "too bureaucratic" and had "stifled some of the innovation, some of the creativity and, frankly some of the risk-taking in the field."
He described one "stroke-of-a-pen fix" that he was considering: "Reassurance that people will be supported in the field, building the morale, those are more leadership issues."
He also offered a glimpse of his management style. "I believe it takes, sometimes, very blunt, strong language" to get changes made. "I don't like doing it -- I call it tough love -- but I think occasionally you have to do that."
Goss has adopted a management style that relies heavily on former committee staff aides, several of whom are former mid-level CIA employees not well regarded within the CIA's Directorate of Operations. Murray, the new chief of staff, has been perceived by operations officers as particularly disrespectful and mistrustful of career employees.