Michael V. Kostiw, chosen by CIA Director Porter J. Goss to be the agency's new executive director, resigned under pressure from the CIA more than 20 years ago, according to past and current agency officials.
While Kostiw, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, longtime lobbyist for ChevronTexaco Corp. and more recently staff director of the terrorism subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has been through the CIA security vetting procedure, final clearance to take the job has not been completed pending review of the allegations. The job is the third-ranking post at the CIA.
In late 1981, after he had been a case officer for 10 years, Kostiw was caught shoplifting in Langley, sources said. During a subsequent CIA polygraph test, Kostiw's responses to questions about the incident led agency officials to place him on administrative leave for several weeks, according to four sources who were familiar with the past events but who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.
While on leave, Kostiw told friends he decided to resign. Agency officials at the time arranged for misdemeanor theft charges to be dropped and the police record expunged in return for his resignation and his agreement to get counseling, one former official said.
CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said yesterday that Kostiw had declined a request for an on-the-record interview. Goss also has refused to discuss the matter with The Washington Post.
A CIA official who asked not to be identified said Kostiw, who had a top-secret clearance while working for the House committee, "had undergone the security vetting process required of all CIA employees." He has taken a polygraph and psychological examination, according to a friend of Kostiw.
The CIA official, citing privacy considerations, refused to confirm or deny the events alleged by the former and current agency officials as the basis under which Kostiw previously left the agency.
It was learned yesterday, however, that final adjudication of Kostiw's situation had not yet been completed, although his swearing-in had been scheduled for Monday, according to a friend of Kostiw.
As executive director, Kostiw would have a major role in budgetary allocations within the agency and personnel matters, including promotions, assignments and discipline. He would "manage the CIA on a day-to-day basis," according to the CIA Web site. He would work with a board that includes the agency's chief financial officer, head of human resources, chief information officer, and chiefs of security and global support.
After leaving the agency in 1982, Kostiw was hired by Texaco Inc. for its Latin America/West Africa division. He came to Washington in 1987 and rose to be ChevronTexaco's vice president for international government affairs, managing offices in the United States and abroad.
He also served as vice chairman of the International Republican Institute, a group made up of GOP foreign policy experts that works with the National Endowment for Democracy on political and economic development projects. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is IRI chairman and a supporter of Kostiw for the CIA job, a senior congressional aide said.
Questions about Kostiw were raised as Goss is beginning his term as director of an agency that is under fire for intelligence community failures to predict the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and its overstating of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Goss also is trying to establish his authority without knowing how long he will be in the job, given the outcome not only of the presidential election on Nov. 2 but also Congress's moves to reform the intelligence community and create a national intelligence director.
Meanwhile, administration officials have privately complained to reporters that CIA officials are leaking intelligence, such as a recent downbeat National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that appeared to undermine President Bush's position that things are going well in that country.
CIA personnel also have become concerned about Kostiw and the other three top House Republican staff members that Goss has brought to the agency from the committee he once chaired. The panel's report last summer on the fiscal 2005 intelligence authorization bill, written primarily by the staff, criticized the CIA's human intelligence activities run by the Directorate for Operations, where Kostiw once worked.