As everyone knows by now, United States Central Intelligence Agency chief Porter Goss resigned today, quite unexpectedly. He did so in a joint appearance with President Bush, on a Friday afternoon. Bush said something equivalent to "heck of a job Gossie" or some crap like that.
All these signs point even an unseasoned observer like myself to the following conclusion. He was probably fired.
The fact that nobody expected this, and nobody in the administration has tried to explain away the unexpectedness is also a clue. The fact that Goss's statement used the words "step aside" not "resign" may or may not be significant.
Time Magazine has a piece on the resignation, which everybody and their brother is linking to, perhaps because it's one of the first MSM contributions that at least tries to piece together some background. Read it here.
Captains Quarters speculates, persuasively in my opinion, that Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend will replace Goss. An announcement is scheduled for Monday, so we will see.
I doubt that the speculation regarding hookers and former San Diego Congressman "Duke" Cunningham, even if true, would be the reason for so sudden a resignation. I could be wrong, but isn't it a bad idea to fire an important intelligence chief over sex during a time of war? If it's a bribery scandal, that's a different story. But sex? I mean, who cares if he's still able to do his job, right?
I have no clue why he might have been fired, if indeed he was. But maybe he had serious philosophical problems with the bureaucratic restructuring that was mandated by the 9/11 Commission report. I think the whole CIA is in disarray over this, and that it has been floundering from internal division and external pressures for quite some time. Goss's resignation is a symptom of the agency's dysfunction.
I never quite understood why it was a good idea to consolidate the intelligence services under an all-powerful czar. If the problem is faulty intelligence, consolidation would tend to exacerbate that problem. What we really need is redundancy. A system of competing, parallel and independent intelligence agencies should be more likely to generate good information, even if such a system were less efficient.
Again, I'm no expert, but I think the changes should have been limited to enforcement of interagency information sharing, breaking down "the wall," renewing the Patriot Act, and expelling the dead wood and anti-American moles. But creating a whole new level of bureaucracy? When has that ever been a solution to any problem?
I'd much rather have multiple guys reporting to the president on intelligence matters than one Director of National Intelligence. I don't know anything about the new DNI, John Negroponte, he may be a stand up guy but what if he's not? He's the only gatekeeper now. If he screws up, if he downplays some key information that later turns out to be important for instance, who's there to challenge him?
Perhaps we'll find out more this weekend about why Goss left. But sudden changes in key positions, no matter how management tries to downplay them, are never good for morale. Anyone who's ever worked in a large company knows this. Goss came into the position with a lot of fanfare, he was a former agent and was supposed to be the perfect guy to get the CIA back on track. Now he's out. I don't like what I'm seeing here, and now my morale is starting to be affected.