Only the timing of Mr Woolsey's departure was a surprise. It came in a brief statement from President Clinton, saying he accepted "with regret" the resignation of his CIA director. In a weekend letter to the President, Mr Woolsey is understood to have said he wished to step down for family reasons. But his days at the agency were already clearly numbered.
Congressional criticism of his handling of the Aldrich Ames case had made his position increasingly untenable. Senate and House Intelligence Committees criticised his refusal to take more serious sanctions against agency officers who had supervised Ames,unmasked last February as a Soviet and Russian spy for almost a decade.
There was no word on a successor to Mr Woolsey, who has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations. However, John Deutch, Deputy Defense Secretary, is seen as a leading candidate.
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