Turf War?

TURF WAR?….After hours of blogospheric speculation yesterday that Porter Goss was forced to resign as CIA director because of some mysterious (and still undetermined) connection to Hookergate, the conventional wisdom in the press today has congealed around something very different: it was just the final act in a long-running turf war with National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. Laura Rozen isn’t buying it:

Negroponte has President Bush’s ear every single day when he delivers the President’s daily intel brief. If he had been lobbying to get rid of Goss, and the President was inclined to support that decision, there were a hundred ways to do it in a way that would project stability, confidence, normalcy. There was hardly a show of that yesterday. They could have named a successor. There could have been a leak to the press about Goss being tired (remember all the foreshadowing in the press about how tired Andy Card was after all those 20 hour days that preceded his departure?) and wanting to spend more time with his family, or that Bush was unhappy with him. There was none of that. It was a surprise move. What happened this week that Negroponte and Bush acted so swiftly?

Does the way it happened resemble the slo-mo, warm and fuzzy way Andy Card and Scott McClellan were retired? Or does it rather have more in common with the swiftly announced departures of Claude Allen and David Safavian from their posts, a few days before we hear of federal investigations?

Well, who knows? Sometimes long-running feuds really can come to a head unexpectedly, and maybe that’s what happened this time.

But, yeah, it doesn’t seem very likely, does it? After all, as Laura points out, the press seems to have rather suddenly discovered this turf war. In fact, I just checked Nexis, and here’s what I found: in the week before Friday’s announcement, not one single reporter even mentioned the names Porter Goss and John Negroponte in the same story. In the month prior, there was only one piece that mentioned the phrase “turf war,” and it wasn’t being used to describe problems between Goss and Negroponte. On Thursday, a mere 24 hours before the Goss announcement, the Washington Post’s Dana Priest did a one-hour online Q&A and never alluded to tension between Goss and Negroponte, even though she had several chances to do so.

So what’s the deal? For the past several months, the consensus word on Goss has been that he’s loyally protecting George Bush by firing all the CIA’s closet Democrats and aggressively tracking down the leakers who are undermining his ability to torture prisoners in Eastern European prisons. That seems like sterling service. But now, out of the blue, we’re supposed to believe that Bush woke up Friday morning and suddenly decided that some previously unreported bureaucratic turf war finally needed to be stopped? Who exactly is the source for this theory? Whoever it is, he seems to have been a busy boy on Friday.