The Magazine

The CIA 1--Bush 0

The age of reform ends after 18 months.

May 22, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 34 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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CIA officials refuse to speculate on whether McCarthy was one of those who leaked so the American public would not "reelect this man." That she contributed large sums of money to the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee shortly before the election is, however, suggestive.

Not surprisingly, reporters on the intelligence beat (some of whom presumably had received leaks from McCarthy) wrote long tributes to her professionalism. Her former colleagues spoke highly of her, and Democratic politicians, including John Kerry himself, lined up to declare her efforts patriotic.

On the other side? Silence. The White House said little about the termination and nothing at all in support of the CIA director. Goss associates say he was surprised and disappointed that senior Bush administration officials chose not to offer any public support of his efforts.

It was an only-in-Washington moment: A senior CIA official fired after she acknowledged leaking classified information--information that reportedly damaged national security--is lionized, while the CIA director who terminated her is accused of a witch hunt. And the White House says nothing in support of the man it charged with cleaning up the Agency and clamping down on leaks.

In retrospect, it was a sign of things to come.

AT ABOUT 10:30 a.m. on Friday, May 5, the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees--Representative Pete Hoekstra and Senator Pat Roberts--received urgent phone calls from the White House. Hoekstra was attending the funeral of a Michigan soldier killed in Iraq and could not immediately be reached.

The news would come as a surprise: Porter Goss was resigning as CIA director. The announcement was scheduled for approximately three hours later. No reason was given for his departure.

After the announcement, on Friday night, Hoekstra received a call from Candy Wolff, head of congressional relations for the White House. Wolff was calling to let the House Intelligence chairman know that Air Force General Michael Hayden would be nominated Monday to replace Goss. Hoekstra said that he had concerns about the fact that Hayden was still on active duty, and Wolff told him that someone else from the White House would be calling.

In the meantime, "senior administration officials" offered anonymous criticism of Goss in interviews with reporters, something that did not go over well with Goss's former colleagues in the House. And while Goss decided that he would not speak publicly about his resignation, he told former colleagues and associates eager to defend him that they were free to do so.

On Saturday, both Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley called Hoekstra to discuss the changes at the CIA. Hadley attempted to assuage Hoekstra's concerns about Hayden by touting the man chosen to be Hayden's top deputy, a CIA veteran who would be well liked at Langley but whom he did not name. Hoekstra made clear his concerns about Hayden and told Hadley he was not supportive of the changes.

On Sunday, Hoekstra went public with his concerns, telling Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that Hayden would be "the wrong person" for the job. The same day, the Washington Post reported that former senior intelligence officials were contacted about the appointment of Hayden's top deputy. The Post did not name the prospective nominee but quoted a former senior official who said, "The Agency, and particularly the DO, will be happy with this choice."

The next day, the White House made its announcement: Hayden was Bush's choice to run the CIA. In a press briefing afterwards, without being asked, Negroponte told reporters that Stephen Kappes was "the leading candidate" to be Hayden's deputy.

Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, released a statement expressing concern that Hayden was too close to the White House. At the same time, however, Harman endorsed Kappes. As her statement said:

Some of these concerns can be alleviated if Steve Kappes is named as Hayden's deputy. Kappes would go a long way to reassuring the workforce. As a civilian with a distinguished career in human intelligence, Kappes would send the right signal to the women and men who serve at CIA. Kappes also stood up to the Agency's previous management team--evidence that he is willing to speak 'truth to power.'

It remains unclear why the White House would think that the selection of Kappes, who left the CIA after his public dispute with Goss, might reassure members of Congress, especially Republicans, eager to reform the Agency. Former colleagues say that Kappes is a smart and savvy veteran of the Agency's operations side. He is not, however, a reformer. They describe Kappes as an ardent, sometimes reflexive, defender of the CIA bureaucracy.

Harman was not the only one happy about Kappes's return to the CIA. "It's a phenomenal choice," said A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, a former executive director of the CIA, replaced by Goss, in an interview with the Washington Post: "It's an admission that it was a big mistake for Goss to bring in the people he did and let them loose with no adult supervision."

ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross, guest-hosting the Charlie Rose show Monday night, interviewed former deputy CIA director John McLaughlin. Ross said that people he had spoken with "said that the selection of Kappes indicated the purge that Porter Goss had attempted was over, that it was back to business as usual as it had been 20 months ago." Ross asked McLaughlin: "Is that accurate?"

McLaughlin praised Kappes and replied, "Yeah, I think--I think that's basically an accurate assessment."

So it's business as usual at the CIA. The White House took on the Agency. And the Agency won.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.