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Goss Vows to Rebuild, Expand CIA

Director Tells Agency of Plans to Upgrade Spying Operations Overseas

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 22, 2004; Page A02

CIA Director Porter J. Goss, in a private address to CIA employees last month, pledged to overhaul and enlarge the section of the agency that spies and conducts operations overseas, according to a transcript of his speech.

"I think we need to rebuild a true global capability," with "more eyes and ears everywhere," Goss told employees at the CIA's Langley headquarters Sept. 24, the day he took over. He said the Directorate of Operations should take more risks, leave people in positions around the world longer, improve its language capabilities and "have the ability to understand what is actually going on."

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Goss's address, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, offers the most extensive insight into his plans for the agency since he took over and all but shut down CIA communications with the public.

Goss has dealt with top managers at the agency the same way, several former and current CIA employees said. They said he often sits quietly at staff meetings and conducts much of his business with a second group of managers -- the handful of longtime former aides, many of them viewed at the CIA as partisan Republicans, who he brought from the House intelligence committee, which he chaired.

Goss's management style has left some officials suspicious that he plans to carry out a wholesale purge of top executives after the elections. This belief is creating angst at the CIA at a time of intensive counterterrorism operations.

The agency also has been under heavy criticism for missing clues leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and misjudging Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability before the war.

"Now, before making any more judgments about me, sit back, relax, and I will tell you briefly who I am, what I believe and where I plan to take the intelligence community," Goss told the gathered employees, referring to reaction to his new staff. ". . . I am not necessarily the person you have been reading about or hearing about . . . unless of course you're reading and hearing good things. I may be that person."

Goss promised to bring the CIA back to "our core business" of gaining "close-in access" to "mischief-makers" and political leaders and influencing their actions.

"When you go back to core access, you go back to words I remember, like 'spot, assess, recruit, train,' " Goss said, using the tradecraft terms he learned as a CIA operative in the 1960s. "Very hard stuff to do in what is now the DO [Directorate of Operations]. The message is clear: We have to do it."

The CIA has been criticized by the Sept. 11 commission and two lengthy Senate intelligence committee investigations for not having enough "humint," or CIA officers or foreign agents working in Iraq and in other places where al Qaeda terrorists have been operating for years.

Goss, like other new directors before him, is in the awkward position of having to win support among a highly insular -- and by profession, sneaky -- group of people, while trying to change its culture and practices. His predecessor, George J. Tenet, worked hard to stay in good graces with the DO and its retired cadre.

In his remarks, Goss promised to allow intelligence officers to work longer on one "target" and said he would stop "shuffling people around on an artificial schedule," which intelligence experts said mainly referred to the six-month rotation of hundreds of employees into and out of Iraq and onto counterterrorism operations and analysis.

"Being the jack of all trades and the master of none is not the right formula," he said. ". . . Time on target is part of this, and that matters."

Goss said he would give operatives and analysts more autonomy, encourage them to take greater risks and, "when it goes wrong," offer his full support for their efforts. "I believe this very wholeheartedly," he said. "We need to take risks."

He also said, "We must collapse bureaucratic layers. I say this with fervor" -- a directive many intelligence experts believe could become problematic if Congress passes bills that would create another supervisory layer in a national intelligence director and a new counterterrorism center in addition to the one operating at the CIA.

"Our nation is at war. It's a cold fact," he said. "I wake up every morning thinking that. . . . I go to bed every night thinking, 'What did I do today to help us advance the war?' I hope it's the same kind of thought you have. I think you are performing exceptionally."


© 2004 The Washington Post Company