Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Porter Goss, 67, resigned today after serving less than two years.
When the former Republican Congressman was confirmed to his post on September 24, 2004, Republicans lauded the nomination, citing Goss' personal experience as a CIA operative (1962-71) and on the Congressional oversight committees. But others complained that such an overtly partisan nomination was--in the words of ex-President Carter's former CIA chief Stansfield Turner, "a terrible appointnemnt... the worst in the history of the job." Others still questioned his credentials, saying he had done little in his oversight role. But we were told we needed a strong leader to reform the CIA and Goss had the guts to do that. Upon his confirmation by the Senate, President Bush said of Goss,
"He is the right man to take on the essential mission of leading the CIA at this critical moment in our Nation's history as we face the challenges and the dangerous threats of this century. I look forward to his counsel as we implement intelligence reform, including the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission."
Well, now he's gone. Does anybody think the job at the CIA is done? Does anyone think their morale has been restored? Does anybody thing the intelligence reforms and recommendations of the 9/11 commission have been implemented? Certainly not the 9/11 Commission. In their damning report of 12/5/05, they decided they couldn't even grade Porter Goss' performance (they gave him an "Incomplete"--only one of two "I"s in the three dozen categories) because the reforms were proceeding too slowly.
INCOMPLETE. Reforms are underway at the CIA, especially of human intelligence operations. But their outcome is yet to be seen. If the CIA is to remain an effective arm of national power, Congress and CIA leadership need to be committed to accelerating the pace of reforms, and must address morale and personnel issues.
And when it came to information sharing between government agencies, and the incentives for doing so, the commission gave the intelligence community a "D".
The nomination of Porter Goss was a failure and his departure during this "critical moment" in history leaves the CIA rudderless and worse off than before, since Goss instituted a purge of top CIA officers, compounding the "morale and personnel issues" the 9/11 commission complained about. We need a strong CIA director who can act as a rudder. And the thing about being a rudder is you have to be willing to spend most of your time face-down in the muck to do your job.