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CIA plans to purge its agency
Sources say White House has ordered new chief to eliminate officers who were disloyal to Bush
WASHINGTON -- The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.
"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."
One of the first casualties appears to be Stephen R. Kappes, deputy director of clandestine services, the CIA's most powerful division. The Washington Post reported yesterday that Kappes had tendered his resignation after a confrontation with Goss' chief of staff, Patrick Murray, but at the behest of the White House had agreed to delay his decision till tomorrow.
But the former senior CIA official said that the White House "doesn't want Steve Kappes to reconsider his resignation. That might be the spin they put on it, but they want him out." He said the job had already been offered to the former chief of the European Division who retired after a spat with then-CIA Director George Tenet.
Another recently retired top CIA official said he was unsure Kappes had "officially resigned, but I do know he was unhappy."
another former CIA official who retains good contacts within the agency said that Goss and his top aides, who served on his staff when Goss was chairman of the House intelligence committee, believe the agency had relied too much over the years on liaison work with foreign intelligence agencies and had not done enough to develop its own intelligence collection system.
"Goss is not a believer in liaison work," said this retired official. But, he said, the CIA's "best intelligence really comes from liaison work. The CIA is simply not going to develop the assets [agents and case officers] that would meet the intelligence requirements."
Tensions between the White House and the CIA have been the talk of the town for at least a year, especially as leaks about the mishandling of the Iraq war have dominated front pages.
Some of the most damaging leaks came from Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Bin Laden unit, who wrote a book anonymously called "Imperial Hubris" that criticized what he said was the administration's lack of resolve in tracking down the al-Qaida chieftain and the reallocation of intelligence and military manpower from the war on terrorism to the war in Iraq. Scheuer announced Thursday that he was resigning from the agency
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