August 10, 2004

A CONDUCTOR WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

Bush Names Goss CIA Chief (Mike Allen, Fred Barbash and Walter Pincus, August 10, 2004, Washington Post)

Administration officials said the announcement was intended to send a signal of stability at a time when the intelligence services are roiled by competing reorganization plans.

Officials said they were especially concerned about the morale of the CIA's employees.

Goss has been in Congress since 1989. He is a former Army Intelligence and CIA officer and Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Goss, who served as a CIA case officer for nine years beginning in 1962, has announced he will retire from Congress at the end of the year.


The most predictable and safest choice possible, but he has two big drawbacks--legislators aren't administrators and he comes from the existing CIA culture. The place needs to be razed and rebuilt with a radically different mission and methodology--he's not likely to do that. Of course, anyone who would actually have made such changes would have been blocked by the Senate, so he may be the best the Administration could do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2004 8:41 AM
Comments

They would have confirmed Giuliani. It's just unknown whether he had the expertise and vision to do what needed to be done. Plus the GOP probably has bigger plans for him.

Posted by: kevin whited at August 10, 2004 9:13 AM

He couldn't have spoken at the Convention for one.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2004 9:20 AM

Naming Rudy at this point would have pretty much taken him out of the mix at the Republican convention, and given Giuliani's role in 9/11 and the location of the convention, it figures to be a key one in the overall presentation of Bush's war on terror.

Posted by: John at August 10, 2004 9:22 AM

Three minutes earlier on the post, and I would have been a trend-setter...

Posted by: John at August 10, 2004 9:24 AM

I agree the CIA should be started from scratch. That said, given we are in the midst of a nasty election, Bush playing it safe with the CIA pick makes sense. Goss seems to have the background that the average voter would say this guy should be good for CIA head. Also if the Dems go after Goss it could turn into a replay of the Homeland Security bill where they get painted as not serious about security. Finally, Goss is a long-serving and fairly popular FL congressman so this might help Bush a bit in FL.

Posted by: AWW at August 10, 2004 9:38 AM

AWW:

Bob Graham has all those benefits but experience as a chief executive and no ties to the bankrupt culture.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2004 9:48 AM

Goss has been questioning the CIA for years in Congress - he may know a little more than you think about how to 'raze' it. Certainly he will have pretty much an unfettered ability to do what he wants. He may surprise everyone. If not, then the citizenry can storm Langley after the next attack on US soil.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 10, 2004 9:53 AM

OJ - before Graham's presidential campaign I would have agreed with you (and noted the benefit of Bush appearing bipartisan by appointing a Dem). But Graham's peculiar performance and statements on the presidential campaign trail made him open to criticism/ridicule. And if Graham didn't run for president and didn't retire he may not have wanted to vacate his seat in the Senate since a GOP would have been put in his place.

Posted by: AWW at August 10, 2004 10:41 AM

This is not the time to raze the CIA. Whatever needs to be done may be taken incrementally without crippling ongoing efforts that reach back into the recent past. I think the choice was a good one.

Graham, basically a small, Carteresque type, would have been a disaster to both CIA morale and organization, at least in the short run. A first step would be to ensure de-clintonization of the internal culture and demoting a number of the midlevel management/bureaucrats.

Posted by: genecis at August 10, 2004 10:45 AM

genecis:

The ongoing efforts havew been worthless. Cripple them.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2004 11:02 AM

jim:

Can you name a congressman who was an effective cabinet head or the last one to be re-elected president?

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2004 11:57 AM

John Ashcroft. Of course, there haven't been many.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 10, 2004 12:28 PM

Ashcroft was a governor.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2004 12:45 PM

And a Senator.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 10, 2004 3:09 PM

Don't forget Dick Cheney.

Posted by: ratbert at August 10, 2004 4:02 PM

Goss is a former FIELD AGENT... the problems with the CIA (aside from Red Tape) is having too few field agents and too many bureaucratic desk weenies... I trust a guy who was being choked by red tape to take the appropriate scissors to it. Sure I'd rather have Rudy but I think he has other plans. Besides the ensuing fight over Goss' confirmation will have benefits too... The Democrats prattling on about how appointing a man with CIA experience to run the CIA is a partisan appointment will reinforce the idea that liberals can't be trusted with national security and will keep the debate on national security rather than the economy (where they also can't be trusted but have somehow tricked the public to believe otherwise) it's '02 all over again. Bush beat the dems by giving them what they wanted in a way that kills them, then it was a debate over Iraq, now it's a debate over how to fix national security.

Posted by: MarkD at August 10, 2004 7:58 PM

Field agents are useless too.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2004 8:47 PM

How could we have ignored G.H.W. Bush?

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 12, 2004 12:33 AM

Funny.

Aside from the fact that he's 80 years old, the screams of anguish would be fun for us outside the Beltway, but it would ultimately come back to bite Bush the Younger.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 12, 2004 3:38 AM
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