Last week’s surprise resignation of Stephen Kappes as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was at least partly due to disagreements over how to spy. Kappes is an experience clandestine service operator with particular expertise in operations directed against Middle Eastern and terrorist targets. He is regarded as a hard liner who endorsed many of the questionable interrogation and incarceration policies initiated by George Tenet, but he also supports maintaining the CIA’s traditional emphasis on classic espionage operations. Kappes favored using resources to build up cadres of agents inside Iran and other countries viewed as hostile that could both be a source of information and could ultimately influence developments.
Kappes had previously retired after disagreements with Director Porter Goss but was brought back into the agency to provide both experience and stability. He is being replaced by CIA senior analyst Mike Morell. Agency insiders believe the replacement of Kappes by an analyst is a reflection of the fact that the CIA no longer emphasizes agent handling, referred to as tradecraft, and has instead become a video-game-like targeting and killing machine that is an integral part of the so-called global war on terror. High tech shooting galleries do not require much in the way of traditional espionage skills, which are largely being lost at CIA as case officers who actually spent their time developing, recruiting, and running agents retire.