New York Times
December 29, 2004
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 - The head of the Central Intelligence Agency's analytical branch is being forced to step down, former intelligence officials say, opening a major new chapter in a shakeup under Porter J. Goss, the agency's chief.
The official, Jami Miscik, the agency's deputy director for intelligence, told her subordinates on Tuesday afternoon of her plan to step down on Feb. 4. A former intelligence official said that Ms. Miscik was told before Christmas that Mr. Goss wanted to make a change and that "the decision to depart was not hers."
Ms. Miscik has headed analysis at the agency since 2002, a period in which prewar assessments of Iraq and its illicit weapons, which drew heavily on C.I.A. analysis, proved to be mistaken. Even before taking charge of the C.I.A., Mr. Goss, who was a congressman, and his closest associates had been openly critical of the directorate of intelligence, saying it suffered from poor leadership and was devoting too much effort to monitoring day-to-day developments rather than broad trends.
Ms. Miscik's departure is the latest in a series of high-level ousters that have prompted unease within the C.I.A. since Mr. Goss took over as director of central intelligence in September. Of the officials who worked as top deputies to Mr. Goss's predecessor, George J. Tenet, at least a half-dozen have been fired or have retired abruptly, including the agency's No. 2 and No. 3 officials. Much of the top tier of the agency's clandestine service is also gone.
The departure of Ms. Miscik will be the first major change within the directorate of intelligence, which is responsible for making important judgments about events around the world and whose products include the President's Daily Brief, the highly classified document prepared for the president each morning.
The C.I.A. declined to comment on the move, and Ms. Miscik did not reply to written questions provided to her on Monday evening.
But in her message to subordinates, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Miscik described her departure as part of a "natural evolution," saying every intelligence chief "has a desire to have his own team in place to implement his vision and to offer him counsel."
Current and former intelligence officials said the move seemed to signal that Mr. Goss's overhaul, which has focused on human spying operations, would be widened to include the analytical unit.
The former intelligence officials who agreed to discuss Ms. Miscik's plans did so on condition of anonymity. They defended her performance, saying that in 2003 she was quick to acknowledge the shortcomings of the agency's work on Iraq and adopted new safeguards intended to prevent future breakdowns.
The changes at the C.I.A. come as the agency is bracing for a wider reorganization endorsed by Congress and the White House that will strip it of its leading status among the country's intelligence agencies. Under legislation signed into law this month, the chief of the C.I.A. will no longer oversee all 15 of the country's intelligence organizations, which include operations in the Pentagon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency.
Instead, that power will be transferred to the new post of director of national intelligence, for which the White House has yet to choose a nominee. Administration officials say aides to President Bush are trying to narrow their search, with a decision expected in early January. It is not clear whether Mr. Goss, whose early personnel moves have been sharply criticized inside and outside the C.I.A., will be a candidate for the new job.
Under the new law, the post of director of central intelligence will no longer exist. Among the questions not yet resolved, according to Congressional officials, is whether Senate confirmation would be required for the C.I.A. director.
Ms. Miscik, an economist who rose through the ranks of the intelligence directorate over a 21-year career at the agency, suggested to associates as early as November that she did not expect to stay at the agency under Mr. Goss. But a former intelligence official who worked closely with her said she would have been happy to stay, despite the intensity of the criticism voiced by Mr. Goss and his top aides.
Mr. Goss has not spoken publicly since he took over at the C.I.A., and the agency has announced only a few of his personnel moves. In November, he told the agency's employees to expect more changes in the days and weeks ahead. Several top jobs remain vacant, including the agency's No. 2 post, deputy director of central intelligence, from which John E. McLaughlin resigned early this month.
There was no indication on Tuesday of whom Mr. Goss might name to succeed Ms. Miscik. One of her top deputies, Scott White, left the C.I.A. in November for another government job, leaving Ben Bonk, an associate deputy director of intelligence, as Ms. Miscik's most senior subordinate.
Among those who have criticized the C.I.A.'s analytical unit for its mistakes on Iraq and that country's supposed unconventional weapons, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a scathing report last summer, and a C.I.A. panel, the Iraq W.M.D. Review Group, completed a 10-month internal review last May.
That review, never made public but described in an internal document issued in August, concluded that the assertion that Iraq possessed illicit weapons had been reasonable based on the information available at the time. But the August document also showed that the review found a pattern of "imprecise language," "insufficient follow-up" and "sourcing problems," including "numerous cases" in which analysts "misrepresented the meaning" of intelligence reports about Iraq's weapons.
The August report described the analytical branch as having "never been more junior or more inexperienced" and said that some of the "systemic problems" uncovered might reflect more widespread "tradecraft weaknesses." But in an interview in September Ms. Miscik said she had acknowledged many of the problems in a speech in February 2004 and had put in place new measures requiring that intelligence judgments be subjected to more rigorous review.
The sharpest criticisms of the analytical unit that Mr. Goss and his associates are known to have endorsed were spelled out last spring in a report by the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Goss, then a Republican congressman from Florida, was the chairman of the panel; the report's principal authors were Republican staff members who are now working as senior advisers to Mr. Goss at the C.I.A.
The report did not mention Ms. Miscik by name, but it criticized the intelligence directorate's leadership and senior managers, among other things, for devoting too much time and attention to providing updates for policy makers, thus "squandering scarce analytic resources that could be put to better use."