The head of the CIA's analysis unit is being forced from her job as part of the shake-up being carried out by the agency's new director.
Jami Miscik, the deputy director for intelligence, told her staff on Tuesday that she will be resigning in the new year. She will be the latest of half-a-dozen senior officials to resign or else be fired since Porter Goss became director in September.
Some on Capitol Hill have accused Mr Goss of forcing out career professionals in order to replace them will political appointees. Mr Goss's supporters counter that he is merely trying to bring changes to an agency whose reputation was severely damaged by its failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks and its faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Ms Miscik joined the CIA in 1983 and was named deputy director in May 2002, making her responsible for the agency's analysis and the preparation of the president's daily briefing. It was reported that she told her staff her resignation was part of a "natural evolution" and that every intelligence chief "has a desire to have his own team in place to implement his vision and to offer him counsel".
But Ms Miscik's term as head of analysis was a period of failure at the CIA as it came under pressure from the Bush administration to provide evidence that Saddam possessed illegal weapons. Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, said Ms Miscik was the "Condi Rice of the CIA". He added: "She just went along with whatever she was told and kept her mouth shut. She is a person who is tarred by the inescapable conclusion that she was either extremely incompetent or else a tool of the administration."
Her resignation comes amid wider changes within the US intelligence community. President Bush recently announced a new national intelligence centre would be created and a new position of national intelligence director would oversee 15 separate intelligence agencies.
Meanwhile, a report published yesterday said that disagreements between various US government agencies were hampering efforts to upgrade and improve the nation's fingerprint database.
The database - the development of which has been questioned by civil rights groups - is designed to make it more difficult for foreign criminals to enter the country.
A study carried out by the Justice Department in August found that the FBI's database could only detect 73 per cent of foreigners with a criminal record entering the country.
This system is not currently available to the Homeland Security Department, which relies on its own system known as the Automated Biometric Identification System, or Ident. The review by the Justice Department's inspector general, Glenn Fine, said some progress had been made in developing an integrated system but many problems remained. It also found that watch lists at borders contained only a portion of the 47 million records in FBI fingerprint files - and that the lists are prone to error.
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