One former senior DO official agreed yesterday that some changes were needed, saying: "Clean the place out if it's needed, but you've got to be clever about it."
The disruption comes as the CIA is trying to stay abreast of a worldwide terrorist threat from al Qaeda, a growing insurgency in Iraq, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan and congressional proposals to reorganize the intelligence agencies. The agency also has been criticized for not preventing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and not accurately assessing Saddam Hussein's ability to produce weapons of mass destruction.
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 four former deputy directors of operations who have tried to offer Goss advice are Thomas Twetten, Jack Downing, Richard F. Stoltz and the recently retired James L. Pavitt.
They "wanted to save him from going through" what two other directors, Stansfield Turner and John M. Deutch, had experienced when they tried to make personnel changes quickly, one former senior official aware of their efforts said.
Turner and Deutch served under Democratic presidents. Turner wanted to clean house after the Watergate scandal and CIA "dirty tricks" exposed during the Church Commission hearings. Deutch sought to change the inbred culture of the operations staff after the Iran-contra scandal.
The Directorate of Operations numbers about 5,000 people, including about 1,000 covert operators overseas, and runs foreign spying, including counterterrorism operations. Because its operators engage in undercover activities, often on their own, they are a difficult group to manage and control.
To win their support, Goss's immediate predecessor, George J. Tenet, met with the former directors regularly. He sought advice from them individually and started to rebuild the clandestine service, which was cut by Deutch after its main adversary, the Soviet Union, dissolved, and before terrorism became a central focus.
Although Kappes has not left his job, several people have been approached or screened as his replacement. One is the director of the counterterrorism center; the other is the station chief in London. Both are undercover and may not be identified by name.
Another candidate, according to current and former CIA officials, is Richard P. Lawless Jr., a former CIA operations officer who is deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs, according to a CIA official who asked not to be identified. Lawless served in the agency from 1972 to 1987, when he left after running afoul of senior DO officers while carrying out secret missions for then-CIA Director William J. Casey.
Lawless then opened a private consulting firm that did business in Asia, particularly with Taiwan and South Korea. In a 2002 profile in the Taipei Times, Lawless was described as having "long-term ties to President Bush's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush." The two met shortly after Lawless set up his consulting firm and Jeb Bush was Florida's secretary of commerce seeking business in Asia.