The head of the CIA’s secret intelligence operations plans to step down just as the spy agency weighs an unprecedented shake-up of the organization, officials said Monday.
The chief of the spy service’s clandestine arm “has announced that he soon plans to retire from the agency after a long and distinguished career at CIA,” agency spokesman Dean Boyd told AFP.
The name of the director of the national clandestine service was not released but his identity already was revealed in a tweet in 2013. Frank Archibald reportedly worked in Pakistan and Africa and was once head of the CIA’s Latin American division.
The Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment if the top spy’s departure was related to the major overhaul being contemplated by the agency’s director, John Brennan.
The CIA chief is looking at ending the long entrenched separation between spying and analysis work in the agency, and possibly creating new units focused on geographic areas or specific threats, according to former intelligence officials.
That idea has been floated previously and encountered major internal opposition, with senior officials ultimately vetoing it. The national clandestine service, which went under different names over the years, has always jealously guarded its relatively independent status and been wary of proposals to alter its relationship with the rest of the agency, former officials and experts say.
If carried out, the reorganization would represent the most sweeping change in the spy agency’s history.
Archibald’s departure follows other leadership changes at the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
David Cohen, who oversaw sanctions enforcement at the Treasury Department, was recently named the CIA’s new deputy director.
And Major General Vincent Stewart, who worked as head of cyber command for the US Marine Corps, recently took over as the new director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The former DIA chief, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, stepped down in August — earlier than intially planned — amid reports his proposed reforms to send more analysts into the field encountered resistance among some senior officials.