CIA boss quits as rift worsens

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The Independent US

The deputy head of the CIA has resigned after a series of confrontations between senior officials and the chief of staff of the agency's newly appointed head.

The deputy head of the CIA has resigned after a series of confrontations between senior officials and the chief of staff of the agency's newly appointed head.

John McLaughlin, who took temporary control of the agency last summer following the resignation of its former director, George Tenet, called his decision to step down after 32 years "purely personal".

But reports suggest the real cause was a series of heated confrontations between senior agency staff and the chief of staff of Porter Goss, the Congressman appointed to head the CIA in September. The chief of staff, Patrick Murray, is said to have treated staff disrespectfully, triggering a wave of resignations. The agent who heads foreign operations, Stephen Kaepes, offered his resignation on Friday but was talked out of it - temporarily, at least - by the White House.

The events have left the agency in turmoil, with many staff unsure what is going to happen. Various reports say the new chief appears disengaged and refuses to get involved in "personnel matters".

Mr Goss, a Florida Republican who once served in the CIA, formerly chaired the House intelligence committee which had an often tense relationship with the CIA. When he was appointed to head the agency he took four staff members from his committee with him to the CIA's 7th floor executive offices. The staff members were widely known for their abrasive management styles and criticism of the agency's clandestine service. One official told The Washington Post: "I definitely think all this is disrupting people's work. Everybody is waiting for the centipede to drop all his shoes."

After joining the agency in 1972, Mr McLaughlin, an analyst of European and Russian issues, advanced to become a part of its senior leadership. By 2000, he had become Mr Tenet's right-hand man as deputy director of central intelligence. Called "Merlin" by colleagues, he was known for pulling off impromptu magic tricks, like turning a dollar bill into other denominations.

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