April 14th, 2010
01:00 PM ET

CIA deputy director steps down

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.

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soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Truth for America

    If you knew the truth that the CIA created Al-Qaida in 1978 and that they had a hand in 9/11.... Then you might not see these people as heroes.

    April 14, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    John Doe: If the government told us it the country was a sinking ship, should we believe them then?

    Matt: I think he'll find his way around the cafeteria just fine.

    Truth for America: The CIA supported, not created, Al Qaeda. Either way, I see the CIA people on the ground as nothing but heroes.

    April 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Spyder

    Yeah I agree with Chas. "Customers" that's an interesting word choice. Does that mean the CIA has info for sale and who are they selling it to exactly?

    April 14, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    I guess even the CIA is getting into the mindset of a corporate government, when you hear the #1 guy speaking of those he supposedly serves (American citizens) as "customers". Makes you wonder what other corporate guidelines he uses in his decision making? Profits before people? Profits before human rights? The enrichment of the few at the cost of the many?

    Just a thought!

    April 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. niled

    An agent or officer never really retires from the CIA.

    April 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mark

    I agree with Tim about some of these comments. Freedom of speach indeed.
    Perhaps we should be more thankful than critical of an agency run by folks that get no praise for when they do get it right. Which is most of the time. Be thankful we can live in a country where we can criticize those that put their lives on the line to keep us safe...

    “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

    April 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    "Customers" are policy makers and the other branches of the Gov't that use the Intel for decision making purposes.

    April 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SRB

    A very high ranking government officail from a very visible agency is retiring. Why all the vitriol?

    April 14, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Martin

    While American citizens are the CIA's ultimate customers, the customers that director Panetta was referring to are the White House, NSC, Executive Branch policymakers, and the US military. congratulations Michael! You deserve this promotion.

    April 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    Mr. Kappes, thank you for your service to our nation. You will be missed.

    April 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Harold

    Mark why do you think people want to do us harm?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jerome

    Keep that deputy right where he is.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Average American

    The rats are starting to JUMP ship...... The smart ones don't want to be associated with what this administration is doing to itself & us.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ADB

    It is precisely because the heads of the 'three letter' agencies are political appointments, that the deputy has traditionally come up through the ranks and is insulated from the political game.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Patriot

    I would hope people understand how important the mission of the CIA is......Every US citizen owes them thier gartitude. Our national Policy is set based on its intel and they get it right 99.9% of the time. It has always been the 0.1% that the news loves to report and then people think the whole agency is should be abolished. The leadership in the CIA is as professional as any time in our history.....I say keep up the good work!!!

    April 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
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