On one hand, The Post favorably portrayed the efforts of NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin to replace eight of the agency's 14 top career employees, quoting an outside observer as saying that the move may lead to "a strong turnaround for an agency that's been adrift for years if not decades" ["New Staff, New Direction for NASA; Shake-Up Is Part of Chief's Plan to Reach for the Moon (Again)," news story, Oct. 21].

On the other hand, David Ignatius chose in his op-ed column of the same day, "Danger Point in Spy Reform," to portray a more limited departure of senior officers from the also-troubled CIA as "a real mess" resulting from "political meddling."

CIA Director Porter J. Goss and his staff are asked why they "thought they had better judgment than career professionals" in making management appointments.

There should be no contradiction: Both organizations need change.

Some of the CIA "career professionals" whose judgment Mr. Ignatius believes worthy of blind trust were in the same group of managers who limited sources of intelligence to only "good" spies, who made avoidance of unfavorable publicity a higher priority than taking risks to gather information and who gutted essential human intelligence capabilities in favor of technical programs. The result was a series of intelligence failures, from not predicting the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to the question of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The CIA needs a sense of urgency to move rapidly toward reinvigorating itself and our nation's intelligence capabilities. The question shouldn't be whether it is appropriate for the president and his appointees to hold career employees accountable for lack of performance -- it should be why it took so long for them to do so.


U.S. Representative (R-Mich.)


The writer is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.