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The Fix-It Man Leaves, but The Agency's Cracks Remain
Kappes "was the guy who a generation of us wanted to see as the DDO [operations chief]. Kappes's leaving was a painful thing," Berntsen said. "It made it difficult for [Goss] within the clandestine service. Unfortunately, this is something that dogged him during his tenure."
The confrontation between Murray and the agency's senior leadership continued throughout Goss's tenure, exacerbated by the fact that Goss effectively allowed Murray and other close aides to run the agency, in the view of some current and former intelligence officials. Many agency officials felt the aides showed disdain for officers who had spent their careers in public service.
Four former deputy directors of operations once tried to offer Goss advice about changing the clandestine service without setting off a rebellion, but Goss declined to speak to any of them, said former CIA officials who are aware of the communications. The perception that Goss was conducting a partisan witch hunt grew, too, as staffers asked about the party affiliation of officers who sent in cables or analyses on Iraq that contradicted the Defense Department's more optimistic scenarios.
"Unfortunately, Goss is going to be seen as the guy who oversaw the agency victimized by politics," said Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of the European division. "His tenure saw the greatest loss of operational experience" in the operations division since congressional hearings on CIA domestic spying plunged the agency into crisis, he said.
Though the agency has grown considerably in size and budget in the past four years -- the operations branch has reportedly grown in size by nearly 30 percent -- dozens of officers with more than a decade of field experience each, those who would have been tapped as new staff chiefs or division heads, chose to leave.
Pre-retirement classes, which serve as a transition out of the agency for active-duty officers, are bulging with agency employees.
While the stature and role of the CIA were greatly diminished under Goss during the congressionally ordered reorganization of the intelligence agencies, his counterpart at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, continued his aggressive efforts to develop a clandestine intelligence operation within his department. The Pentagon's human intelligence unit and its other clandestine military units are expanding in number and authority. Rumsfeld recently won the ability to sidestep U.S. ambassadors in certain circumstances when the Pentagon wants to send in clandestine teams to collect intelligence or undertake operations.
"Rumsfeld keeps pressing for autonomy for defense human intelligence and for SOF [Special Forces] operations," said retired Army Col. W. Patrick Lang, former head of Middle East affairs at the Defense Intelligence Agency. "CIA has lost the ability to control the [human intelligence] process in the community."
Now, "the real battle lies between" Negroponte and Rumsfeld, said retired Army Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick, a former deputy national security adviser and once a senior official at the Defense Intelligence Agency. "Rumsfeld rules the roost now."
Staff writer Thomas E. Ricks and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.