Hayden In; Jury Still Out on Goss Departure
Yesterday, I suggested that the spontaneous combustion of Porter Goss was a fitting end for the partisan hack installed by President Bush to lead the war-time CIA. But the jury is still out on the impetus for his sudden departure, what Goss himself today deemed "just one of those mysteries."
So far, the Washington Post and New York Times have focused on political intrigue. The Post cited administration officials who claimed "there has been an open conversation for a few weeks, through Negroponte, with the acknowledgment of the president." In this tale, the President had been long disappointed with Goss' performance, while the CIA director himself was disgruntled over his reduced role following the creation of the new post of Director of National Intelligence now held by John Negroponte.
But speculation continues to grow that Goss' implosion is tied to the mushrooming HookerGate scandal. The New York Daily News pointed to a senior law enforcement official who reported that "It's all about the Duke Cunningham scandal." Former CIA agent Larry Johnson gives Goss the benefit of the doubt, but concluded that his relationship with the CIA's #3 Kyle "Dusty" Foggo was inescapable :
"Dusty was a big poker player, and it's my understanding that Porter Goss was also there [at Wilkes' parties] for poker. It's going to be guilt by association."
The San Diego Union Tribune, which won a Pulitzer prize for its coverage of the Duke Cunningham case, also raised the specter of HookerGate. The paper noted that Foggo and Cunningham bagman Brent Wilkes were friends dating back to junior high and that "some sources said Goss' position as head of the CIA was weakened by the latest bout of negative publicity."
While the Goss embarrassment is still unfolding for the CIA, early predictions regarding his successor suggest the situation may go from bad to worse. The Times and the Post are each reporting that President Bush may tap Air Force General Michael Hayden to replace Goss, putting the architect of the illegal NSA domestic spying program in charge of the CIA.
UPDATE: Both the Washington Post and the New York Times are now reporting President Bush will name General Hayden head of the CIA on Monday.