WASHINGTON — CIA Director Porter J. Goss resigned under pressure Friday, ending a tumultuous 19-month tenure marked by clashes with the nation's new intelligence chief over the CIA's reduced role in the restructured spy community.
U.S. intelligence and other officials said Goss was pushed out by Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte, whose growing disenchantment with the CIA director was shared by members of President Bush's intelligence advisory board. The White House is expected to name a replacement as early as next week.
As director, Goss focused on expanding the CIA's clandestine service and pushing it to take more operational risks. But the former Florida congressman was often faulted for a lax management style, for alienating veteran CIA officers -- and for his reluctance to surrender resources to espionage organizations created after the Sept. 11 attacks to combat terrorism and weapons proliferation.
In a hastily arranged session in the Oval Office, President Bush said that Goss had submitted his resignation Friday morning and that "I've accepted it."
Bush said that Goss had "led ably" at the CIA during a time of difficult transitions and that the plans Goss had laid would "help make this country a safer place and help us win the war on terror."
In a prepared statement, Goss, 67, did not explain his reasons for resigning. He said that under his leadership, the agency had "made great strides on all fronts," and that he would remain on the job in the coming weeks "to ensure a smooth and professional transition."
Early speculation on who would replace Goss centered on Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, Negroponte's top deputy. Other possible candidates mentioned in intelligence circles included White House homeland security advisor Frances Townsend and former CIA Director Robert M. Gates, who served under President George H.W. Bush.
Goss' abrupt departure leaves a leadership vacuum in the espionage community at a time when the CIA is under mounting pressure to produce better intelligence on a host of difficult targets, including the insurgency in Iraq, the threat posed by terrorist groups including Al Qaeda, and Iran's nuclear program.
Goss' ouster in his second year on the job also threatens to return the agency to the sort of destabilizing leadership shuffles it experienced during the 1990s, when five directors held the top job in as many years.
Many agency veterans believe that leadership turmoil and deep budget cuts set the stage for failures before the Sept. 11 attacks and for erroneous prewar assessments of Iraq's alleged biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs.
Goss, who worked for the CIA as an undercover officer in the 1960s, had hoped to leave a legacy of restoring the agency's clandestine capabilities and can-do reputation. But he stepped into the job just as it was being stripped of much of its clout.
Mark Lowenthal, a former senior agency official who worked with Goss on the House Intelligence Committee, said the cards were stacked against the director from the outset.
"He took over for a guy there [former CIA Director George J. Tenet] who was there for seven years and was very popular," Lowenthal said. "When the agency was being beaten up for 9/11 and Iraq. And he took over during this long, drawn-out transition to the DNI [director of national intelligence]. I don't care what your talents are, that's extremely difficult."
Goss, who took charge of the CIA in September 2004, was the last director with authority over the nation's other intelligence agencies. He soon had to surrender that authority, when Congress voted to overhaul the nation's intelligence community and Negroponte was appointed to oversee the activities of the CIA and 15 other agencies.
Goss said that he supported the changes and that he sought to ensure their success. But critics in the intelligence community accused him of dragging his heels in several crucial areas.
Under his leadership, the CIA resisted requests from Negroponte to provide personnel and resources to help establish Negroponte's office, as well as to new organizations including the National Counterterrorism Center and the National Counter Proliferation Center, according to current and former intelligence officials.
"Relations between the CIA and the office of the DNI have been rocky," said John Brennan, who until last year served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, or NCTC, a clearinghouse for terror threat information. "In my view, the agency was reluctant to understand that the NCTC had primary responsibility on the analytic front, and therefore did not adapt the way it needed to."
Brennan also said morale at the CIA had suffered over the last two years. "A lot of the agency's responsibilities and capabilities have withered in some respects because they were unsure of their role in the community," he said.