Friday, May 1, 2009

Who Are The Gosslings?

By Zachary Roth
May 1, 2009

In recent days, speculation about who leaked to CQ the news about Jane Harman's wiretapped conversation with a suspected Israel agent has seemed to focus on former CIA director Porter Goss -- or, more precisely, the group of Goss aides known as the Gosslings.

So we thought it was worth taking a closer look at this crew. And it looks like they have quite a reputation...

In 2004, Goss moved over from chairing the House intelligence committee to running the CIA, and he took four of his top committee aides with him -- even though, as we noted yesterday, they had already been labelled "partisan" and "inexperienced" by Harman. At CIA, Goss reportedly invented new positions for several of them, to mediate between him and the intelligence and operations directorates, allowing them to operate to a great degree as free agents.

Indeed, Goss is said to have deferred key decisions the Gosslings, who were reportedly also known as the Hitler Youth. "He was softened up over the years by these guys like a Kobe beef cow," one person who worked at the CIA under Goss told Harpers in 2006. "He couldn't make a move without their help."

So, who were the Gosslings?

Patrick Murray

Murray was the top lawyer on the intelligence committee under Goss, and became his chief of staff at CIA.

While on the committee, Murray acted as a crucial go-between for Goss and the Bush White House. In 2005, a former committee staffer told Robert Dreyfuss of the American Prospect: "There was a sense that [Murray], even more than Porter, was close to the folks at the White House. And that [Murray] was making everything happen, with lots of meetings at the White House, with Cheney's office, and House leadership."

Dreyfuss added that Goss "was seen as a prisoner of his staff -- above all, of Murray."

For instance:

During one confrontation over a controversial piece of legislation, when other members challenged Goss, he deferred to Murray. "Goss looked sad and apologetic, and he looked at us and said, 'Pat runs the show,'" according to a source. "We all wondered, 'What does Pat Murray have on Porter Goss?'"
Once at CIA, Murray quickly alienated the agency's old guard. In November 2004, the Washington Post reported that John McLaughlin, a CIA veteran who had served as acting director, resigned after warning Goss that Murray, "was treating senior officials disrespectfully and risked widespread resignations." Soon afterwards, Steve Kappes, the deputy director for operations also resigned, after Murray had ordered Kappes to fire a deputy with whom Murray had clashed.

Jay Jakub

Jakub was a subcommittee staff director under Goss, who at CIA became a senior advisor for operations and analysis."

During the 1980s and 1990s, Jakub was a CIA analyst and case officer, before serving as the chief investigator on GOP congressman Dan Burton's famously partisan inquiry into Clinton-Gore campaign finance practices stemming from the 1996 election.

While on the committee, Jakub took the lead in writing a June 2004 intelligence committee report, which called the CIA "dysfunctional" and accused it of "misallocation and redirection of resources, poor prioritization of objectives, micromanagement of field operations and a continued political aversion to operational risk." The report triggered charges that Goss was angling to replace George Tenet as CIA director -- which occurred three month later.

"He's widely viewed as having very strong partisan views," a former CIA colleague of Jakub's told Salon that year. "Jay leaps too early. He acts on his views, and often doesn't seem like a measured decision maker."

In 2006, Harper's reported that Jakub "undertook a major (and unnecessary) review of the CIA's liaison relationship with British intelligence, in part, sources said, because it allowed him to make multiple trips to London, a favored destination."

Michael Kostiw

It says something about this crew that perhaps the best-regarded of them had his career derailed for shoplifting pork products.

Kostiw was picked by Goss to be executive director -- the number 3 job that later went to Dusty Foggo. But the Washington Post soon reported that, 20 years earlier, Kostiw had been arrested for stealing a package of bacon, and instead became a senior adviser to Goss.

In that capacity Kostiw, an agency veteran, reportedly acted as a force for moderation, despite his credentials as a conservative Republican. He suggested traveling to Venezuela to meet with Hugo Chavez, with whom he had a friendly relationship, and offered realistically downbeat assessments of the situation in Iraq.

Merrell Moorhead

Moorhead was the committee's deputy staff director, and became another top aide to Goss at CIA.

CQ's Jeff Stein -- who broke the recent Harman wiretapping story, and who, we can't help noticing, seems to have kept in contact with the Gosslings -- reported in 2007 that Moorhead had moved to Nova Scotia and begun a new career as a vintner.

It's worth remembering: we don't know that any of these people, or even that anyone around Goss, leaked the Harman information. But looking at this record, let's just say, we wouldn't put it past a few of them.

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