WASHINGTON — The changes at the CIA (search) are causing much speculation among members of Congress and the media.
It seems several people are trying to second-guess new agency director Porter Goss.
The New York Times on Wednesday reported that the new intelligence chief has told CIA employees in an internal memo that their job is to “support the administration and its policies in their work.”
But a CIA official told FOX News that there’s a “juxtaposition of quotes “¦ that the article is cherry-picking Goss’s quotes.” The official added that Goss in no way suggested that the agency would become a partisan supporter of the administration.
“If the CIA is asked to provide intelligence on a topic, we do it without shaping or shading it in any way,” the official said. “We provide it as we see it and let the facts alone speak to the policy maker. We do not make policy, but we do inform those who make it.”
The official said the CIA is a capabilities organization, not a policy agent, and that Goss’ memorandum provided a very clear layout of that view. Since Friday, four top bureaucrats have resigned from their CIA posts, including the former interim director and the agency’s top Usama bin Laden agent. That has prompted some critics to call the resignations a revolt against Goss, a former Republican congressman.
But an agency spokesman described the personnel changes as a normal part of the transition process. Goss indicated in his memo to employees that he’s working to identify a candidate as the new deputy and to take that to the president for his consideration.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters Wednesday that Goss’s purpose in writing the memo was to let employees know changes were coming and that they would be kept informed of those changes. McClellan also pointed out that the memo says much more than what has been widely reported.
Goss “also went on to say in that e-mail, that we [CIA] do not make policy, though we do inform those who make it,” McClellan said. “We avoid political involvement, especially political partisanship, so you have to look at the entire e-mail to see exactly what he said.”
Tensions within the spy agency have been front-page news this week. On Monday, the deputy director of operations, Stephen Kappes, resigned, as did his chief deputy, Michael Sulick.
Former acting director John McLaughlin, who took over when George Tenet resigned as head of central intelligence this summer, resigned last week. While McLaughlin’s departure was expected, sources told FOX News that McLaughlin volunteered to help Goss through the transition, but was told somewhat icily that his services weren’t needed.
“There are huge changes going on at the CIA … we helped place a leader there we have great confidence in,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he would chalk up most of what’s going on there to necessary changes that need to be made.