Monday, November 15, 2004

Tenet, Goss, Bush, and the CIA

This is lovely. After keeping George "Slam-dunk" Tenet on for longer than any reasonable executive would have, President Bush replaced him with Porter Goss. At the time, it seemed that the change would, by the necessity of averages, be an upgrade. Not so fast.

On Friday, John McLaughlin, the number two man at CIA resigned. He was a 32-year veteran of the Agency. The deputy director of Operations, Stephen Kappes, also resigned on Friday, although he has agreed to postpone his final decision until today.

If Goss really needs to "clean house" at the CIA, as one anonymous source told the New York Times, that's one thing. And he should have a free hand to make command decisions. But what is worrisome is that these two fellows were pushed to the brink not by Goss, but by Goss's chief minion, Patrick Murray. And the complaint is not about systemic reorganization, but that Murray was "treating senior officials disrespectfully."

Murray came over to the Agency with Goss from Capitol Hill, where he was Goss's chief of staff. Anyone who has spent more than six months in Washington knows four or five (or more) people like Murray: The officious, sycophantic seat-sniffers who follow semi-important people around for a career, hoping to hit the big time one day should their principal get a high-level job. Washington is, sadly, full of these people. I don't begrudge these little men and women their fun. After all, without them, Chris Buckley would have nothing to write about.

But while it's fine for them to muck up the Commerce Committee or the RNC or even the EEOB, should they be allowed to use bloody CIA as a battleground for their bureaucratic power-piss matches? Doesn't someone at the White House have their hands on the wheel?

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