WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- J Porter Goss's resignation as CIA director may open the way for increased cooperation between the agency and other elements of the U.S. intelligence community, intelligence insiders have told UPI.
The sources said that one of the frontrunners to succeed Goss, who resigned Friday, Mary Margaret Graham, the widely respected deputy to Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte. Graham is a 28-year veteran of the CIA who currently serves as deputy director of national intelligence for collection. She has the extensive leadership and management experience within the agency that Goss lacked and is widely respected within the agency.
If Graham gets the job, she is likely to give far greater priority to cooperating with Negroponte in his efforts to break down institutional barriers to operational cooperation and intelligence-sharing within the enormous, but sprawling and historically poorly coordinated U.S. intelligence community, the sources said.
Another front-running candidate to succeed Goss, the sources said, was Fran Townsend, currently President George W. Bush's advisor on homeland security. Ms. Townsend was previously deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.
Both Graham and Townsend are given high marks for their management skills and ability to work well with their colleagues -- two key areas where Goss was widely criticized for dropping the ball. Either of them would be the first female head of the CIA in its almost 60 year history. Whoever gets the high pressure and controversial post, they will inherit an agency with many secret successes to its credit over the past four and a half years in the war on terrorism.
The agency also now enjoys a boost in its budgets and resources unprecedented since the hey-day of the Cold War.
But the next CIA director will also inherit an agency is still struggling to effectively penetrate the Sunni insurgency in Iraq and that, some critics say, is paying too little attention increasingly militant network of Shiite militias across southern Iraq.
CIA morale has been reeling despite increased budgets over the past year for two reasons. The first was Goss' abrasive, hands-on management style that alienated many veteran senior staffers and drove many of them out of the service.
The second was the reorganization of the U.S. national security services that took the key position of "vicar" or senior coordinator of all the U.S. intelligence agencies away from the CIA director for the first time in its history. That position went to former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte.
Negroponte has been struggling to streamline cooperation between the different agencies in the U.S. intelligence community. Intelligence insiders give him high marks for his efforts but say they have been slowed down by the determination of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, backed by Vice President Dick Cheney to keep resources and information from the Pentagon's various intelligence organizations primarily under their control.
The failure of al-Qaida and other extreme Islamist groups so far to being able to repeat their success in the terror atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001 is the most striking evidence that the CIA has in fact been doing far better in aging its secret war to defend the American people than its many detractors on both right and left give it credit for.
Cooperation between the CIA and the FBI in particular is said to be far better than it was before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and before the USA Patriot Act removed many of the institutional barriers that made crucial intelligence sharing between America's chief domestic and international security and intelligence agencies almost impossible.
But the agency is said still to have along way to go in recruiting the Arabic and Farsi-speaking field officers and analysts, and the additional number of web-savvy open-source analysts it still badly needs to keep on top of global threats and challenges to the United States and the American people.