Category Archive 'Michael Sulick'

17 Apr 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Kappes

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Stephen R. Kappes
Stephen R. Kappes has announced his retirement as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency next month.

WaPoNew York Times

Kappes dramatically returned in triumph to the CIA as DDCIA in May of 2006, having come close to being appointed Director but being edged out by Leon Panetta. Kappes was the preferred candidate for the directorship of Senators Jay Rockefeller and Diane Feinstein, and his Deputy Directorship was a concession to Feinstein.

Kappes had earlier resigned as Deputy Director of Operations in November of 2004 after a brief interval of conflict with Porter Goss, who had been appointed CIA Director with a charter to reform the Agency in late September. Stephen Hayes describes what happened.

On November 5, Goss’s new chief of staff Patrick Murray confronted Mary Margaret Graham, then serving as associate deputy director for counterterrorism in the directorate of operations. The two discussed several items, including the prospective replacement for Kostiw, a CIA veteran named Kyle “Dusty” Foggo. Murray had a simple message: No more leaks.

Graham took offense at the accusatory warning and notified her boss, Michael Sulick, who in turn notified his boss, Stephen Kappes. A meeting of Goss, Murray, Sulick, and Kappes followed. Goss attended most of the meeting, in which the two new CIA leaders reiterated their concern about leaks. After Goss left, Murray once again warned the two career CIA officials that leaks would not be tolerated. According to a source with knowledge of the incident, Sulick took offense, called Murray “a Hill puke,” and threw a stack of papers in his direction.

Goss summoned Kappes the following day. Although others in the new CIA leadership believed Sulick’s behavior was an act of insubordination worthy of firing, Goss didn’t go quite that far. He ordered Kappes to reassign Sulick to a position outside of the building. Goss suggested Sulick be named New York City station chief. Kappes refused and threatened to resign if Sulick were reassigned. Goss accepted his resignation and Sulick soon followed him out the door.

William Safire referred at the time to the exodus of “a flock of pouting spooks at Langley who bet on a Kerry victory.”

Stephen Kappes had a distinguished career in CIA Operations, but he was one of the central figures in Agency efforts to oppose the policies of a Republican elected administration.

Scott Johnson, at Power-line, quotes the pseudononymous former CIA case officer and author “Ishmael Jones” on the reasons for Kappes’ resignation.

His departure suggests that the Obama administration understands that the status quo at the CIA is unacceptable.

The bomb attack at the CIA base in Khost helped push Kappes out. Kappes had personally briefed President Obama on the quality of the operation beforehand. Following the bombing, we learned that the operation had been a classic bureaucratic boondoggle: 14 people, many with little experience, had met the agent when there should have been only one. Espionage is a one on one business. With so many layers of management involved both in the field and at Headquarters, the chain of command was vague and no-one was really in charge. The CIA’s chief at Khost was set up for failure.

Kappes then attempted to recover from the Khost debacle by leaking news of the defection of an Iranian nuclear scientist. But closer examination showed this to be a hollow achievement. CIA officers are taught to keep agents operating in place because once they defect, their access to intelligence is lost. Defection is an option only when the agent’s life is at risk. And then, once an agent has defected, the news is not to be leaked to the press. The scientist in question turned out to be a low-level participant in the Iranian program who had left the program almost a year ago.

Kappes had outlived his usefulness and become a liability. And so, like Jeremiah Wright, under the bus he goes.

10 Jul 2006

The Object of Hoekstra’s Anger

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New York Times Leakmeister Eric Lichtblau, writing with Scott Shane, on Saturday, exposed a secret and undisclosed May 18th letter from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra to President Bush. The Times treats the story as the revelation of another Administration secret Counterterrorism program.

In a sharply worded letter to President Bush in May, an important Congressional ally charged that the administration might have violated the law by failing to inform Congress of some secret intelligence programs and risked losing Republican support on national security matters.

The letter from Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not specify the intelligence activities that he believed had been hidden from Congress.

I’m not sure that the Times’ interpretation of the story is correct.

Tom Maguire, the right Blogosphere’s specialist in these matters, reviews the guesses as to the object of Chairman Hoekstra’s wrath from various MSM and blogosphere sources, which suggest:

1) the SWIFT program.

2) the missing Iraqi WMDs.

3) some “more explosive secret” previously alluded to by NSA-leaker, and renowned stalker, Russell Tice.


I have a wildly speculative alternative theory. It just might be that the Times has completely missed the point.

Mr. Hoekstra was also interviewed on Fox News (Allahpundit has the video). In that interview, Chairman Hoekstra referred to his committee having a passion about three things:

1. Getting the right people in the right leadership positions in the Intelligence Community.

2. Implementing the establishment of the office of Director of National Intelligence.

3. Complete and aggressive oversight of all the programs pursued by the Intelligence Community.


Number one is clearly referring to the appointment of Stephen R. Kappes (Previously mentioned here)

In the Times-revealed May 18th letter to President Bush, Hoekstra objects vehemently, and at length, to Kappes’s appointment, writing:

the choice for Deputy Director, Steve Kappes, is more troubling on both a substantive and personal level…

Regrettably, the appointment of Mr. Kappes sends a clear signal that the days of collaborative reform between the White House and this committee may be over… Individuals both within and outside the Administration have let me and others know of their strong opposition to this choice for Deputy Director. Yet, in my conversations with General Haydon it is clear that the decision on Mr. Kappes is final…

I understand that Mr. Kappes is a capable, well-qualified and well-liked former Directorate of Operations (DO) case officer. I am heartened by the professional qualities he would bring to the job, but am concerned by what could be the political problems that he could bring back to the Agency. I am convinced that politicization was underway well before Porter Goss became the Director. In fact, I have been long concerned that a strong and well-positioned group within the Agency intentionally undermined the Administration and its policies. This argument is supported by the Ambassador Wilson/Valerie Plame events, as well as by the string of unauthorised disclosures from an organization that prides itself with being able to keep secrets. I have come to the belief that, despite his service to the DO, Mr. Kappes may have been part of this group. I must take note when my Democratic colleagues – those who vehemently denounced and publicly attacked the strong choice of Porter Goss as Director – now publicly support Mr. Kappes’s return.

Further, the details surrounding Mr. Kappes’s departure from the CIA give me great pause. Mr. Kappes was not fired, but, as I understand it, summarily resigned his position shortly after Director Goss responded to his demonstrated contempt for Congress and the Intelligence Committees’ oversight responsibilities. The fact is, Mr. Kappes and his deputy, Mr. Sulick, were developing a communications offensive to bypass the Intelligence Committees and the CIA’s own Office of Congressional Affairs. One can only speculate on the motives but it clearly indicates a willingness to promote a personal agenda.

The subject of the House Intelligence Committee’s wrath seems not to be the Administration, but rather the Administration’s adversaries.

I’m going to climb way out on a limb with a speculation of my own. I think, perhaps, the “secret program” Chairman Hoekstra is indignant about, which he says is in violation of the law, may not be an Administration program at all. He may actually have been referring to the briefing of the Congressional oversight committees about a very secret Intelligence Community program, viz., the Anti-Bush Administration Intel Operation, described by a reluctant Administration at Congressional request.

Suppose Pete Hoekstra is fed up with the Administration’s failure to expose and prosecute the cabal of Pouting and Leaking Spooks behind the Plamegame, the NSA flap, the renditions story, and all the rest, and is now trying to hold the President’s feet to the fire in order to force him to act. Investigation, exposure, and prosecution of the leakers and conspirators could be initiated by Congress itself, instead of the Justice Department.

I could be completely wrong, of course.


The (Australian) Advertiser seems to read this story the same way I do.

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