In the most sweeping shake-up in CIA history, the spy agency’s newly appointed director, John Deutch, reached outside the clubby network of intelligence professionals Monday to pick nine new top administrators, including several former Capitol Hill staffers who have been stern critics of the organization.
Announcing the changes at a news conference at CIA headquarters in nearby Langley, Va., Deutch said he hoped the new management team will be able to repair the CIA’s reputation with Congress, which has been sharply critical of the agency for its handling of the Aldrich Ames spy scandal and for its seeming inability to adjust to the post-Cold War world.
“This agency, it has been noted by me, has not had a stunning success in relating to Congress,” Deutch said. “Not because they don’t try, but because there hasn’t been enough … knowledge about the best way to hook into the system. Having some people who have had detailed experience … will be very important in keeping Congress currently and fully informed.”
Deutch said officials displaced by the changes will be offered posts within the agency but he did not specify them.
For his top deputy, Deutch picked George Tenet, 42, who has been head of intelligence programs at the National Security Council since 1993. Previously he was staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Other onetime Capitol Hill staffers on the new team include Keith Hall, a former deputy staff director for the Senate Intelligence Committee, to be director of the community management staff; Jeffrey H. Smith, a Washington lawyer who was once general counsel of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to be the agency’s general counsel; and Michael J. O’Neil, former chief counsel of the House Intelligence Committee, to be Deutch’s chief of staff.
Deutch, confirmed by the Senate less than a week ago, made clear that he hopes to avoid the mistakes of his predecessor, R. James Woolsey, who resigned last January after a stormy relationship with Congress.
Although CIA directors are often picked from outside the agency, the management level just below the director is usually filled from among the CIA’s career professionals. But Deutch made it clear that he is dismantling that system, which emphasized continuity over innovation.
But his changes were criticized by some.
“There won’t be much of a team there,” said retired Maj. Gen. Edward B. Atkeson, a former CIA and military intelligence official. “A lot of these people don’t know each other. Others have been in an adversarial relationship with the CIA. You have a terrible morale problem in the CIA. Bringing in a lot of outsiders won’t help that.”