"I am not qualified."

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This is amusing if it's legit: blogger Matt Gunn claims to have seen a transcript of Fahrenheit 9/11 outtakes including the following interview with newly-appointed CIA head Porter Goss:

INTERVIEWER: [Y]ou come from intelligence. This is what you did, this is what you know.

REP. GOSS: Uh, that was, uh, 35 years ago.

INTERVIEWER: Okay.

REP. GOSS: It is true I was in CIA from approximately the late 50?s to approximately the early 70?s. And it's true I was a case officer, clandestine services officer and yes, I do understand the core mission of the business. I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified. I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably. And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day, 'Dad you got to get better on your computer.? Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have.

Granted, being qualified to be a field agent isn't the same as being qualified to direct the agency—the latter scarcely requires fluency in Arabic. Still, I'd be surprised if this footage didn't get out and start running in heavy rotation on the news channels within the next 48 hours.

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  1. being qualified to be a field agent isn’t the same as being qualified to direct the agency

    Bush came into office making the same argument for himself… and his presidency has been a resounding success… so I don’t know what everyone is so worried about.

    I’m sure Goss can pad himself out with experts to make up for any shortcomings.

  2. Let’s hope that Goss is a good deal more successful than Bush has been.

  3. How irresponsible is it to put in a CIA chief, during a period that you are expecting terror attacks, who is going to get fired in four months? What kind of leadership/discipline can he possibly exert over the troops? The CIA Director needs to be above partisan suspicion.

    All so Bush can try to win Florida.

    I’m tired of this administration confusing the Party with the State.

  4. I’ll believe this when I see the clip. If Michael Moore has damaging footage of a Bush appointee, why hasn’t he released it?

  5. I’m tired of this administration confusing the Party with the State.

    Joe,

    You know, that’s an excellent articulation of what is a key flaw for Bush-republicans. Very nicely said.

  6. Regardless of how close the election may or may not be, Joe, are you seriously suggesting that the Bush administration take the stance that “We’re not going to appoint anyone to this key position because we’re not sure we’re going to be here next year?”

    Surely if Goss is unacceptable to a hypothetical Kerry administration, it will be a small enough matter for that administration to replace him.

    If there are any current plans to order furniture or repaint offices at the White House, would you propose that the Bush administration seek the Kerry campaign’s input on color schemes?

  7. I understand your suspicion, joe, but do you really think appointing a Florida congressman as head of the CIA is going to win Dubya any votes in Florida? It sounds pretty unlikely to me.

  8. How irresponsible is it to put in a CIA chief, during a period that you are expecting terror attacks, who is going to get fired in four months?

    I’m confused. Why would Bush fire him after getting re-elected?

    Or would it be more responsible to leave the position vacant?

    Maybe Bush should just let Kerry start making all the administration appointments starting now.

  9. Sanchez, you ignorant slut.

    As you noted, field agent NOT EQUAL to Director of Central Intelligence.

    Not everything is about the spin.

  10. Although I understand that a CIA director needs a different skill set than a field agent, there’s still something vaguely disconcerting about the fact that the administrators need not be qualified to do the work that they’re over-seeing. That’s life, I guess.

    As to the FL connection, if Porter Goss weren’t a former CIA agent I’d be much more suspicious about this. Yes, I know, no doubt there’s at least one other member of the House or Senate with a CIA background and residence in a non-swing state, and everybody can hold him up and say “Why not him instead?” But I’d have to see several such people, and see that they’re clearly more qualified, before I assume that this is about winning in FL.

  11. Regardless of how close the election may or may not be, Joe, are you seriously suggesting that the Bush administration take the stance that “We’re not going to appoint anyone to this key position because we’re not sure we’re going to be here next year?”

    “Stance” may be the right word, but posture might do it too.

    The biggest job of the new CIA Director is to make sure that a whole bunch of intelligence gathering agencies are brought under a new umbrella and to make sure that the CIA itself is reformed. I suspect that people who think the new CIA director is going to get the kind of traction he needs to institute the kinds of reforms we need before the election don’t know much about organizational behavior.

    I knew someone who worked for the Treasury Department back in the Nixon Administration, and one of his jobs was to work on a study to integrate the Customs Department, the INS, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard. They all have the same mandate, and they’re mostly in the same places, so why not make them more efficient by putting them under one roof?

    Every Administration since Nixon’s tried to do exactly that, but it wasn’t until the INS issued visas to the 9/11 hijackers, months after they plowed airliners into the WTC, that anyone was able to get the players in those agencies to fold their cards and merge.

    Until the next election, the new CIA Director doesn’t have a prayer of implementing those kinds of reforms. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that the Bush Administration’s decision to ignore the kinds of concerns joe brought up may in fact indicate that the Bush Administration doesn’t consider reforming our intelligence services to be much of a priority.

    Which, whether you’re a hawk or a dove, would be bad news.

  12. Bush’s “dilemma”: Appoint a new CIA chief, or leave the post vacant. I don’t see a downside to putting in someone, even if for only 5 months. (Not 4 – at earliest, he will be replaced in January, more likely February or March. Kerry won’t be elected until December(electoral college), and enter office until January.)

    As to questions about an administrator not being able to do his underlings’ jobs – I doubt that any corporate chief, governor, mayor, or indeed any administrator above immediate supervisory level anywhere can do ALL of his underlings’ jobs. Most of the ones I know couldn’t even do their secretaries’ jobs. The key question – can they do their own job. Goss probably can do CIA chief.

  13. Somehow I imagine Goss as Wayne or Garth bowing down and repeating over and over again:

    “I’m not worthy!”

    “I’m not worthy!”

    “I’m not worthy!”

    “I’m not worthy!”

  14. Man, I just can’t figure why anyone would want a “public sector” (politically appointed) job today. As soon as your name is mentioned, you get slapped, trashed, poked, and jabbed — even before you’ve made your first public statement! Who needs it?

  15. This seems akin to me to Mike Ditka saying that he’s completely unqualified to play tight end in the NFL today–the game has changed so much, and he is really freakin old. Even though he played quite well 30 years ago or whatever.

    It’s quite a different thing to say that Iron Mike can’t coach in the NFL because of this. clearly the skill set is not just a little different, it is massively, incredibly different. What possible similarity is there between a field agent and the head of the CIA in terms of duties? About the same similarity as between head coach of a football team and starting tight end–almost nil, except you’re on the same field.

    everything people already said commenting on joe’s ridiculous point about Bush making this appointment so soon before the election I won’t repeat, but simply support.

  16. Actually, as I think about it, what’s important is that at some point in Goss’s career he spent a good amount of time in the intelligence business. Even though many things have changed since then, intelligence is a very old business and I suspect that the basic decision-making and interpersonal skills needed to work in the field are timeless. Even though he won’t understand the technology used by his underlings, he’ll at least understand enough of what they’re doing to be able to lead.

    Now, I have no clue whether or not he has the other skills needed to lead. That’s a whole other matter, and I’ll need to learn more about him before I reach conclusions. But as far as the ability to understand the decisions faced by his agents, I’m sure he has a decent understanding.

  17. Doesn’t Goss have to be confirmed by the Senate before he officially takes office? What are the chances of that actually happening before the election?

    As to influencing the Florida vote in the upcoming election, Goss’s district is already heavily Republican, and I doubt that many people outside his district will be swayed much one way or the other by this move.

  18. Yeah this whole thing is kind of silly.

    He doesn’t know Arabic? So what?

    He doesn’t know his way around Windows? So what?

    Plenty of the managers I’ve known could barely send email. Doesn’t mean that they are incompetent. It’s not like he’s up for the CIA Sysadmin position or something. This is why we have people with specialities— so you don’t have to know how to do everything.

  19. Doesn’t Goss have to be confirmed by the Senate before he officially takes office? What are the chances of that actually happening before the election?

    Good point.

  20. Although I understand that a CIA director needs a different skill set than a field agent, there’s still something vaguely disconcerting about the fact that the administrators need not be qualified to do the work that they’re over-seeing.

    Why? I’m Chief Architect in my company. I’m not qualified to be CEO.

    But then, the CEO isn’t qualified to be Chief Architect — he doesn’t have the math and queueing theory background.

    I’ll bet the CEO of Sara Lee doesn’t kow how to make a good croissant, either.

  21. joe, thoreau et al,

    As I understand the politics of this decision it is about quick confirmation. Bush would be pilloried for leaving the post vacant over the next coupla months, and Goss – head of Intel. Comm. – is universally regarded as competant by his colleagues…and I don’t guess Bush was going to appoint Dick Gephardt or Bob Woodward in the middle of an election just to get kudos for non-partisanship. (Could you imagine Clinton doing something comparable?)

    Goss as an elected official could freely join the partisan debate this fall, and would have been far more useful to Bush in Florida than he will be as a necessarily low-key appointee in a sensitive post…Bush sacrificed a real asset in Florida – THAT is what happened.

  22. There may be other problems with Goss, but if these statements become an issue, we can probably conclude that the last vestige of seriousness is gone from politics. (And if Democrats derail the nomination on these grounds and then Kerry becomes President, Kerry had better appoint someone fluent in Arabic.)

  23. So how many of you clowns now passing judgement on his capabilities had even heard of this guy three days ago?

  24. How irresponsible is it to put in a CIA chief, during a period that you are expecting terror attacks, who is going to get fired in four months?

    Kerry doesn’t have to fire Bush’s CIA director. After all, Tenet was appointed by Clinton, and Bush kept *him* around (longer than he should have, in fact).

    It’s unclear why it is “irresponsible” for Bush to appoint somebody. Apparently he’s supposed to both know in advance that he’ll lose the election, AND know that Kerry will act in a selfish and partisan manner without regard for what’s good for the United States. Apparently it is just a given that Kerry will act like a total dick, and it’s left to Bush to try to minimize the damage Kerry can do. How sad is that?

  25. Regardless of how close the election may or may not be, Joe, are you seriously suggesting that the Bush administration take the stance that “We’re not going to appoint anyone to this key position because we’re not sure we’re going to be here next year?”

    This perfectly sums up a number of statements above: that Bush’s choice is either to appoint a partisan Republican who has no credibility with with half the country, or leave the post vacant.

    Republicans who would be kept on by Kerry, just off the top of my head – Hegel, McCain, Lugar, Powell, Armitage…

    Umbriel, CIA Directors are not Cabinet officers – their work is supposed to be above partisanship, and their terms of service not line up with presidential elections. It is important that they be above partisanship both substantively and in their perception, or the agencies ability to do its job suffers.

    Steve, I think appointing a Floridian CIA Director will work to win votes about as well as raising steel tarrifs will win Pennsylvanian votes.

  26. Doug, I recall Porter Goss fighting against the creation of a commission to investigate intellegence failures, working to limit its effectiveness, succeeding in forbidding it from looking into the politicization of intelligence, and refusing to investigate charges that a covert CIA employee was outed by the White House.

    Each of these events happened more than three days ago.

  27. Uh huh Dan. Appointing a politician with a history of using his post on the Intel committee to help Bush and screw Democrats is reponsible, but replacing him with somebody who is trusted across the board would be partisan.

    God, you’re a tool.

  28. “Appointing a politician with a history of using his post on the Intel committee to help Bush and screw Democrats is reponsible…”

    Not sure to what you are referring here – Bush hasn’t been getting a whole lot of help from, nor has the Democratic Party been notably screwed by, the House Intelligence Commitee or even Porter Goss. He is indeed a Republican, so de facto I suppose his chairmanship helps Bush’s agenda to the possible detriment of the opposition, yet I fail to see how this signifies a phenomenon or a travesty.

    “… but replacing him with somebody who is trusted across the board would be partisan.”

    I can only presume that, by ‘trusted across the board’, you mean a Democrat. How that exactly amounts to Bush acting on his own partisan interests (he’s a Republican, I think) I’m not sure.

    The problem with living in a period of chaos is that nuance tends to fall by the wayside. There are plenty of calamities in the world to wax apoplectic about. I don’t think the appointment of the head of the House Intelligence Committee to the position of Director of Central Intelligence qualifies as such, even if that appointment comes from the shadowy hideaway of the villainous George W. Bush.

  29. “Doug, I recall Porter Goss…”

    Don’t you mean “I google Porter Goss…”

  30. If this total, categorical non-event of a statement makes the mainstream media, while the fact that John Kerry has been telling a large, complicated lie about his Vietnam service for 30 years goes unreported, can we agree that there just might be a bias in the mainstream media?

    And if the Democrats make big hay out of this statement, does that mean that every other candidate for CIA director must speak Arabic fluently and pass his MCSE on Windows?

    What a ridiculous story.

  31. Conspriracy Theory time!!!!! Looks like this Goss guy attended Yale, home of the Skull & Bones Society…These freakin guys are everywhere!

  32. James Kabala,

    Well put. Anyone want in a pool for days until Maureen Dowd quotes this exchange, cutting off the quote at “I am not qualified”?

  33. Sanchez strikes again, proving his true leftism. Sanchez, at least the Republicans had Godlwater, why can’t you recognize that fact? There’s nothing on the left for us.

    Oh, yeah, and Bush is a shoo-in, joe. Let’s not kind ourselves.

  34. Sanchez strikes again, proving his true leftism. Sanchez, at least the Republicans had Godlwater, why can’t you recognize that fact? There’s nothing on the left for us.

    Oh, yeah, and Bush is a shoo-in, joe. Let’s not kid ourselves.

  35. Uh huh Dan. Appointing a politician with a history of using his post on the Intel committee to help Bush and screw Democrats is reponsible, but replacing him with somebody who is trusted across the board would be partisan

    Your posts would be shorter if you just reduced them to “snivel snivel, whine whine”. No content would be lost.

    Anyway, let me translate your post: “Appointing someone joe wants is responsible. Appointing someone joe doesn’t want is partisan”. The usual horseshit.

  36. and what were Mr. Tenet’s qualifications when he was oppointed by Clinton?
    Had he been in the CIA?

    I understand he was a congressional aide, with no significant intelligence or administrative history.

    Maybe that’s why Clinton never bothered to meet with him. He always knew the appointment was a joke.

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