Goss Was Told to Resign, Sources Say


May 5, 2006 — -- In the midst of the war on terror and after just 19 months on the job, CIA Director Porter Goss has announced his resignation.

Goss was hand selected by President Bush in August 2004 to overhaul the nation's top spy agency after it missed the intelligence clues in the weeks leading up to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, Bush described the former CIA operative as "the right man to lead at this critical moment."

But now, sources told ABC News, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte told Goss it was time to go.

"As my friend for almost 50 years," Negroponte said in a statement after Goss's announcement, "I will miss Porter's day-to-day counsel. I salute his service to our country, and I want to thank him for his outstanding work on behalf of the men and women of our nation's intelligence community."

But sources tell ABC News that Negroponte told Goss just last week that it was time for him to resign. A senior CIA source said that the two men had at least three management disputes -- including Negroponte's desire to move personnel out of the CIA Counterterrorism Center into the new National Counterterrorism Center, and Negroponte's perceived micromanaging in which he wanted a say over CIA station chiefs.

The same source said that some of Negroponte's senior staff were ex-CIA workers and had a grudge against Goss.

When Goss took over the top spot at the CIA, he sat atop the nation's 16 intelligence agencies. When Negroponte took the newly created position of national intelligence director in April 2005, he in effect became Goss's boss, and the two reportedly bumped heads on a number of issues.

And it's not a secret that Goss rubbed a number of people in the intelligence community the wrong way with his own management style. He came under fire almost immediately, in part because he brought with him several top aides from Congress who were considered highly political for the CIA.

Just two weeks ago, Goss announced the firing of a top intelligence analyst in connection with a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about a network of CIA prisons in eastern Europe, a dismissal considered highly unusual.

"What the agency needs is a morale boost," said ABC consultant and former FBI agent Jack Cloonan, who believes the intelligence community views Goss' departure as a victory.

Cloonan said recent leaks from CIA sources signaled discontent toward the leadership.

"When people leak to the press, they really have to be pressed pretty hard," he said. "We cannot afford for the most powerful intelligence service in the world to be turning on itself."

At Goss's announcement in the Oval Office, Bush had kind words for the departing director.

"He's spent a lot of time here in the Oval Office," the president said. "He's given me his candid advice. I appreciate the honor that he brought to the job."

But sources said the White House backed Negroponte when he recently approached Goss to suggest it was time to step aside.

A senior administration official said the announcement of a successor to Goss could come as early as Monday. Administration officials said the leading candidate is Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, Negroponte's top deputy.

Cloonan said the nation's security is not compromised in any way with Goss on the way out, but the president needed to act quickly and wisely.

"What the CIA needs is a morale boost," Cloonan said. "The president has to make a quick decision and appoint someone who gets along with Negroponte. But the successor also has to have the stature to not capitulate. If the person selected is perceived to be a White House hack, that will not be good."

ABC News' Martha Raddatz contributed to this report.

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