Kristol apparently no longer believes "scandal" could explain Goss resignation

››› ››› JOE BROWN

Weekly Standard editor William Kristol offered different explanations for why Porter Goss resigned as CIA director. He first said that Goss's resignation could be related to "some internal problem at the agency" and an unfolding "scandal, conceivably involving an associate of Goss's." Two days later, Kristol failed to mention the "scandal" as a possible reason for Goss's resignation, instead claiming that National Intelligence director John Negroponte "wanted him gone."

Following the abrupt resignation of Porter Goss as CIA director on May 5, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol offered several very different explanations of why Goss may have resigned. During Fox News' initial coverage of Goss's resignation, Kristol suggested that, while Goss's resignation could be related to "some internal problem at the agency," he also may have resigned due to an unfolding "scandal, conceivably involving an associate of Goss's" -- a possible reference to the federal investigation into allegations that defense contractors provided prostitutes to lawmakers and intelligence officials in an attempt to secure preferential treatment. But during a Fox News appearance two days later, Kristol failed to mention that second possibility, declaring that Goss resigned at the behest of National Intelligence director John Negroponte, who "wanted him gone" because Negroponte "didn't approve of Porter Goss's aggressive attempt to get the CIA much more engaged in covert operations and spying." In that same broadcast, Kristol also linked Goss's resignation to his "bitter fights" with "anti-Bush types" at the CIA.

As the Think Progress weblog first noted, on May 5, Kristol told Fox News' Shepard Smith that Goss's resignation might have been prompted by "some scandal conceivably involving an associate of Goss's ... [s]omething that popped this week and that caused this sudden event ... this Friday." As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on April 28, Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo -- the executive director of the CIA and an appointee of Goss -- allegedly participated in and sometimes hosted poker games at which defense contractors allegedly provided prostitutes to lawmakers and CIA officials in an effort to secure contracts. Foggo is currently under investigation by the CIA's inspector general, and the poker games are the subject of a probe by federal prosecutors.

From the May 5 edition of Fox News' Studio B with Shepard Smith:

KRISTOL: I do think this was sudden. It was unexpected. There'll be more of a story to come out. I don't know what it implies for the future of the agency and for Goss's efforts to shake up that institution, an institution that's very difficult to shake up. But I don't believe this was part of a long-planned White House shakeup.

SMITH: How the heck could it have been? In a Bush White House world, things are -- are lined up and they're put out in a certain sort of meticulous, controlled way. Like, I can -- I can envision, had this been planned in advance -- had it been planned in advance, there would have been an almost -- an immediate announcement, there would have been -- of a replacement, the hugs, the thank-yous, the -- probably a medal or something, or something like that. And instead what we now have is a vacuum, and you have to wonder what could have gone "boom" like that to have caused him, a) to tender the resignation and, b) for the president to accept it under these circumstances.

KRISTOL: Well you and I think alike, Shep. Either -- either it's brilliant minds thinking alike or suspicious minds thinking alike, I don't know, but I --

SMITH: It's just out of character.

KRISTOL: It looked that way to me. And if you look at -- what was striking about the statement originally in the Oval Office with the president is, he didn't say, "I will serve until my successor is confirmed," which is the usual practice. In the written statement, he says he intends to be there for a few weeks to help ensure a smooth transition, but implying that he could well leave before his successor is confirmed by the United States Senate. So, again, I think there were either serious disputes or some internal problem at the agency or some scandal conceivably involving an associate of Goss's. Who knows? Something that popped this week and that caused this sudden event on -- this Friday.

From the May 7 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

KRISTOL: I think Porter Goss was doing what he had to do. I think he was trying to carry out the president's agenda. He took a lot of heat from the permanent bureaucracy at the agency. He fired someone two weeks ago for leaking, which the president wanted, and his reward was to be fired.

And I think it's an outrage, and I think it's a terrible signal to conservatives anywhere in the State Department, Defense Department, CIA, anywhere in the federal government who are trying to carry out the president's agenda against the bureaucracy, that they're not going -- that, unfortunately, the White House is not going to stand behind them.

And now, we have --

WALLACE: Well, why do you think he was fired?

KRISTOL: Well, because I think Negroponte wanted him gone, and John Negroponte is a nice man, a former ambassador, foreign service officer, didn't approve of Porter Goss's aggressive attempt to get the CIA much more engaged in covert operations and spying.

I think the CIA will now become a mini State Department. Everyone will be happy. They will replicate the career bureaucrats who are in charge, and anyone who believes in aggressively carrying out President Bush's foreign policy is going to be worried now that he'll stick his head out.

The New York Times won't like it. Other people within the bureaucracy won't like it. And you won't get backed up by the White House.


KRISTOL: [Gen.] Mike Hayden [nominated to replace Goss] was -- is a career military guy, a fine man, made by President Clinton head of the National Security Agency, now John Negroponte's deputy. I think [House Intelligence Committee] Chairman [Pete] Hoekstra [R-MI] was using the military thing as a bit of a polite way of saying that he doesn't really want Hayden there because Hayden has been a loyal deputy to Negroponte and a career type who is not going to really take on the agency.

He'll let defense do more and more of the technical stuff. Hayden has no experience in covert operations and human intelligence. Maybe he'll try to reinvigorate that, as Porter Goss did.

The only thing I know -- if you look from the outside -- the one thing we know is that Porter Goss was in bitter fights with a bunch of anti-Bush types at the agency and elsewhere, and Porter Goss is now gone, and very unceremoniously gone.

Fox News Channel, FOX Broadcasting Company
William Kristol
FOX News Sunday, Studio B
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