The other day we took a look at the modus operandi of the team of aides around Porter Goss. The Gosslings, as they were known to their many detractors, developed a reputation, both on the House intelligence committee and at the CIA, for partisan knife-fighting and a willingness to do the bidding of the Bush White House.
In recent days, there’s been speculation — though only speculation — that the Gosslings may have been involved in the leak to CQ about Rep. Jane Harman’s wiretapped conversation with a suspected Israeli agent.
But there was one interesting story we missed in that roundup. In November 2004, Newsweek reported on the clash between top Gossling Patrick Murray, and Steve Kappes, a high-ranking CIA official, which led to Kappes’s resignation. We’ve noted that incident before, of course, but the Newsweek story had a particularly interesting passage about the way that Murray — who was Goss’s chief of staff at CIA — operated while he was a top Goss staffer on the committee.
Reported the magazine:
“He was just impossible,” says one staffer who dealt with him. “He was sarcastic, snide and had this uncanny ability to push people’s buttons.” One former CIA official told NEWSWEEK that Murray leaned on him more than once to declassify information so he could use it to “embarrass the Democrats.” Murray was irritated when the agency declined. He regarded much of the CIA as a nest of obstructionist bureaucrats, time-servers who had schemed to undermine the administration’s policies—especially in Iraq.
Again, it’s worth repeating that there’s no solid evidence that Murray, or any of the other Gosslings, were behind the leak. But at the very least, the Newsweek story offers additional evidence of just what kind of political hardball the Gosslings were capable of playing.