Goss Appoints Aides to Key CIA Posts

New C.I.A. Chief Chooses 4 Top Aides From House (Douglas Jehl, NYT)

Porter J. Goss, the new director of central intelligence, has chosen four House Republican aides for senior positions at the Central Intelligence Agency, including the No. 3 job in the agency, former agency officials said Thursday. The decision to appoint the four officials is creating waves in the agency, which prides itself on objectivity and independence, the former officials said. All four worked under Mr. Goss as political appointees on the Republican staff of the House Intelligence Committee, when he was the panel chairman.

The move could also reignite Democratic criticism of Mr. Goss, 65, a former Republican congressman from Florida who promised in his confirmation hearings that in his new position he would put behind him a partisan political past. All four aides are seen as highly loyal to Mr. Goss, and their appointment was viewed in the C.I.A. as an effort by the new director to assert control of an agency that has come under sharp criticism from conservatives over recent disclosures that have been portrayed as disloyal to President Bush. “If you want to come in and show people up front that you’re in charge, this is a pretty aggressive way of doing it,” said a former intelligence official who worked under George J. Tenet, the former director.

It is not unusual in the agency’s history for a new chief to appoint a new team. But it is rare for so many newly appointed officials to come from outside the agency and from jobs where they were partisan appointees. When Mr. Goss addressed employees at the agency on his first day at work, it was widely noted by attendees that the House aides sat in the front row, near seats usually reserved for senior agency officials. According to the officials, Michael V. Kostiw, 57, who has been staff director of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, will replace A. B. Krongard, 67, as executive director, the No. 3 post. Mr. Krongard, a former chairman and chief executive of Alex. Brown, the investment banking concern, took the post in 2001 under Mr. Tenet after joining the agency in 1998 as his counselor. The other appointees are Patrick Murray, who has been the Republican staff director of the House Intelligence Committee, as Mr. Goss’s chief of staff; Joseph Jakub, the Republican staff director for the House Subcommittee on Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence, as senior adviser for operations and analysis; and Merrell Moorhead, the Intelligence Committee’s deputy Republican staff director, as senior adviser for strategic programs.

This strikes me as a perfectly sound move. The idea that senior members of the professional staff of the House Intelligence Committee are somehow partisan hacks is absurd. Goss’ main challenge is to change the organizational culture of the Agency. The only way to do that is to bring in people from outside who haven’t been promoted by excelling in adapting to that culture. And, aside from appointing from within, it would be hard to conceive of a talent pool more natural to draw from.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Attila Girl says:

    HIs mandate is to shake things up. He’s shaking things up.

  2. Kathy K says:

    What Atilla Girl said. Part of the problem he has to deal with is that there seems to be a significant level of partisan politics already going on at the upper levels of the CIA and those partisan politics are anti-Bush. Goss has enough sense to pick competent people, and if they are somewhat partisan, at least it may balance out. Though I do hope his appointees do their best to keep their politics out of it.