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11/30/2004

Hitler Youth

When arguing that Goss' purge has targeted the wrong people, Stephen Kappes is exhibit one. As US News and World Report's Kevin Whitelaw and David Kaplan note:

To those who worked with him, Stephen Kappes seemed the perfect choice to lead the covert side of the CIA in the midst of the war on terrorism. Appointed in June, Kappes, a former marine, is a veteran CIA case officer who served in dangerous and difficult postings in Moscow and Pakistan. More recently, he reported directly to President Bush as the CIA's point man in secret high-stakes negotiations with Libya that ended the rogue state's weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. [USNWR, Kicking Over the Hornet's Nest, 11/29/04 p.22]
Whitelaw and Kaplan report that Goss' four transplanted House Intelligence Committee aides quickly became "notorious at the CIA, where many viewed them as arrogant, partisan, and caught up in micromanaging marginal programs. At CIA headquarters, the Goss aides soon acquired a nickname: 'the Hitler youth.'"
A certain amount of friction was probably inevitable, given the conflicting cultures that were thrown together in the CIA's seventh-floor executive suites. Many at the CIA resented having to take orders from a group of former Hill staffers whom they regard as inexperienced. Three of Goss's aides spent time working at the CIA, but all left early in their careers. (One of them, Jay Jakub, earned four commendations for his work there.) The fourth, Murray, Goss's chief of staff, spent most of his career at the Justice Department and on Capitol Hill.

Making matters worse was a political environment in which Republicans have blamed CIA officials for a series of pre-election leaks. Goss's key staffers also came in with something close to scorn for many of the CIA's current leaders. Rumors that they had assembled a "hit list" of officials slated for ouster swept through the CIA. One aide, Jakub, had penned a section of a bill earlier this year blasting the CIA for failing to reform: "After years of trying to convince, suggest, urge, entice, cajole, and pressure CIA to make wide-reaching changes to the way it conducts its [human intelligence] mission, however, CIA, in the committee's view, continues down a road leading over a proverbial cliff."

CIA veterans are particularly puzzled by reports from their former colleagues that Goss, a savvy politician, has seemed so aloof from much of the CIA staff, leaving key decisions to aides. They also worry that Goss's awkward opening weeks could endanger his reform agenda. "This is the worst moment in history to have this kind of fight," says a former senior CIA manager, "and this is the worst fight I've seen inside the agency."

And it could get worse. A dozen of the CIA's most experienced spies may be plotting their exit, insiders say. One CIA veteran described "a terrible atmosphere, with everybody running around nervous and averting eye contact." Adds a visitor to the CIA's seventh floor last week, "I have never seen so much emotion in that place."

 

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