By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 15, 2007
CIA Director Michael V. Hayden yesterday named Michael J. Sulick to head the National Clandestine Service, bringing back to government service a veteran covert operator who left almost three years ago after a confrontation with aides to Hayden's predecessor, former congressman Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.).
In announcing the appointment, Hayden described Sulick as "a familiar figure to many of you" and "a seasoned operations officer" who "earned a reputation for superior tradecraft and sound judgment."
In November 2004, Stephen R. Kappes, then CIA deputy director of operations, the top spy position, and Sulick, then his deputy, became involved in a controversy involving leaks to the media, which pitted them against members of Goss's senior staff who had come with the congressman to the agency from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Sulick reportedly argued against transferring a senior officer who was accused of the leak. As events escalated, Kappes and Sulick resigned.
Their departure was followed by a rash of resignations from other senior clandestine operatives. "Their leaving," a former senior CIA officer said yesterday, "led to the loss of a number of talented people which the agency is still recovering from."
With Kappes returning as Hayden's No. 2 in July 2006 and Sulick coming back this month, Hayden has brought back to the CIA two men who in 2004 developed a plan for the agency to get back to tradecraft basics in the wake of intelligence failures related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction.
"They just did not have time to get started on that when they were forced out of the agency," the senior official said. Sulick had been head of counterintelligence and previously served overseas for 10 years in positions where he was operating against the KGB. "He never should have been allowed to leave," one senior official said yesterday.
As head of the National Clandestine Service, Sulick will help direct and coordinate all foreign intelligence activities, whether conducted by the CIA or the Pentagon.
In announcing the appointment to the CIA staff, Hayden noted that Sulick "speaks his mind," in an apparent reference to the controversy with Goss's staff three years ago.