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Porter Goss abruptly resigns as CIA chief

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, May 5 (Reuters) CIA chief Porter Goss, assigned to rebuild the US spy agency after huge intelligence lapses over the September 11 attacks and Iraq, abruptly quit today after less than two years on the job.

President George W Bush gave no explanation for Goss' resignation, praising the former member of Congress from Florida for his candid advice.

The announcement was made at a hastily arranged event in the Oval Office attended by Goss and John Negroponte, director of national intelligence.

''Porter's tenure at the CIA was one of transition. He's helped this agency become integrated into the intelligence community. That was a tough job. He's led ably,'' Bush said.

The CIA fell under a newly created director of national intelligence as part of reforms enacted after intelligence failures related to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Some bureaucratic wrangling has resulted as the new intelligence arm sought to assert itself over the CIA and met some opposition from the veteran spy agency.

''I'm confident that his successor will continue reforms that he's put in place and as a result, this country will be more secure,'' Bush said.

IRAQ INTELLIGENCE FAILURES Goss, brought in after George Tenet resigned in the face of mounting criticism of intelligence failures over the Iraq war, said he would like to report that the CIA is ''on a very even keel, it's sailing well.'' ''I honestly believe that we have improved dramatically your goals for our nation's intelligence capabilities, which are in fact the things that I think that are keeping us very safe,'' he said.

There was talk among intelligence experts in Washington that Goss had been asked to resign by Negroponte, but no immediate confirmation.

''I've never been as concerned about our nation's security as I am this week,'' US Rep Jane Harman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was quoted by the Christian Science Monitor as saying last week.

''We still don't have a handle on al Qaeda,'' she said. ''Our intelligence reorganization is in a slow start-up, and the CIA is in free fall.'' Reuters SI VP0005

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