A bolt out of the blue? Or a bolt?
Porter Goss’s sudden announcement of his departure from the CIA is puzzling. The former Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee and ex-CIA case officer offered no reason for vacating the CIA directorship, and there was no successor ready to go. News of his resignation came during a brief joint appearance at the White House by George W. Bush and Goss on Friday afternoon (the traditional time slot for putting out bad news). And–whaddayaknow–no pesky questions from journalists. This has led to the obvious speculation: was it the hookers?
I’ll get to the (potential) hot stuff in a moment. But consider this: The CIA has been a mess for years–especially after 9/11. Former CIA officials routinely say that morale is lousy and that employees have been fleeing the agency, many of them alienated by the heavy-handed Goss regime, regarded as too close to the White House. One former CIA official recently told me that the retention rate for new analysts and case officers has plummeted. Many are leaving after a year. Private contractors routinely troll the CIA cafeteria, luring away the best talent they can find. (“We’ll pay you more, contract you back to the agency, and you won’t have to deal with those damn bureaucrats.”) And there is a war still going on. The Bush administration has yet to declare al Qaeda defeated. In fact, Osama bin Laden is continues to make his videos.
The CIA beset with problems, Americans dying overseas–why would Goss give up this crucial post at a critical time before a replacement was in the wings? What sort of patriot is this?
And–I’m getting closer to the sex angle–there’s already turmoil on the Seventh Floor of CIA HQ. Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, the CIA’s executive director (who was put in that post by Goss), has been under investigation by both the CIA’s inspector general and the FBI. Foggo, the No. 3 man at the CIA, was a regular at a poker game hosted by Brent Wilkes, a businessman tagged by federal prosecutors as a coconspirator in the bribery case that landed Republican Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham in jail. The CIA IG is examining whether Foggo helped one of Wilkes’ companies win a CIA contract for providing bottled water, first-aid supplies and other items to CIA officials in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to he San Diego Union-Tribune, critics have claimed the CIA overpaid for this contract.