Steve Kappes, the No. 2 man in the CIA, is retiring, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday.
Kappes was a civilian operations officer for many years who reportedly was forced out of the CIA by Porter Goss' associates after Goss became director in 2004. He returned to the agency in 2006 and Panetta said he hadn't planned to stay on so long.
"When he told me a few months ago that it was time for him to move on, I understood," Panetta said.
Panetta said that when he joined the CIA in February 2009, he was "extremely pleased" Kappes stayed.
"He was a great partner and I, like so many others, valued his advice and experience. Steve is a one-of-a-kind professional who has dedicated himself to the CIA. He has helped me tremendously in guiding this great organization. Having worked side-by-side on some of the toughest issues around, I'm proud to call him a friend."
Kappes has been credited with pulling off the deal that persuaded Libya to give up its weapons programs.
His successor in the deputy director job will be Michael Morell, a 30-year veteran of the agency. He has spent much of his career in the directorate of intelligence, most recently as its chief.
"Michael has been part of the senior team for almost four years now. He knows the CIA from top to bottom. He understands intelligence as few others do - from collection and analysis to interaction with our customers. Michael has not only seen how the pieces fit together, he's actually brought them together."
Panetta said Fran Moore, deputy director for intelligence, will move up to become director for intelligence.
The word "Customers" is actually more of a joke. I have a lot of friends in various agencies and in the Military and they all use at as a playful reference to the Citizens of the United States.... In a sense we ARE the customers. Our taxes pay their salary, and they perform a vital service for us.
This blog – This Just In – will no longer be updated. Looking for the freshest news from CNN? Go to our ever-popular CNN.com homepage on your desktop or your mobile device, and join the party at @cnnbrk, the world's most-followed account for news.