WASHINGTON, May 6 (Reuters) Porter Goss today said the reason for his abrupt resignation as CIA chief after less than two years on the job would remain a mystery, while the White House denied that President George W Bush had lost confidence in him.
As Goss left his home today on his way to give a commencement address in Ohio, he declined to comment on his resignation from the Central Intelligence Agency, telling CNN that ''it's one of those mysteries.'' Goss had come under fire inside and outside the agency during a difficult tenure, and several career intelligence officers had left after clashes.
The White House denied a report in the Washington Post that cited senior administration officials as saying that Bush had lost confidence in Goss and had decided to replace him months ago.
''Reports that the president had lost confidence in Porter Goss are categorically untrue,'' White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said aboard Air Force One as Bush traveled to Oklahoma State University to deliver a commencement address.
''Porter Goss played a key role in keeping the focus on winning the war on terror and helped transform the agency to meet the challenging times we're living in and the times ahead.'' Administration officials told CNN on Friday that Air Force Gen.
Michael Hayden, principal deputy director of national intelligence, would replace Goss. Sources also told The New York Times and Time magazine Web sites that Hayden was a leading candidate for the post.
Perino declined to comment on a replacement but said an announcement would be made soon.
The CIA lost clout when it fell under a newly created director of national intelligence as part of reforms in response to intelligence failures over the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
An administration official said on Friday that tensions between Goss and national intelligence director John Negroponte arose as the new intelligence arm sought to assert itself over the CIA and met opposition from the agency.
Mounting tensions came to a boil when Negroponte decided that many counterterrorism analysts from the CIA should be moved to the relatively new National Counterterrorism Center that was created as part of intelligence reforms.
Goss objected because he believed that would erode the CIA's capability, an intelligence official said. ''He was standing up for the agency.'' Perino said Goss had made ''significant steps'' to help integrate the CIA into the new structure under Negroponte.
''Then there was a collective agreement that now would be a time we could have a new CIA director come in to take the ball and move the agency forward from here,'' she said.
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