Goss stresses that he won't decide for sure until after next week's election, and a person close to the former CIA director says Goss is also considering other options, from teaching to consulting. And even if he does write a book, Washington insiders and intelligence operatives who may be salivating or trembling at the prospect of a kiss-and-tell may be disappointed. "I'm looking at doing a book that would make a positive contribution. This is not about gotcha," says Goss. "I've been keeping my mouth shut for two years."
But a book by Goss could be the second of a potentially juicy one-two punch by former intelligence chiefs. In February, Goss's predecessor as CIA director, George Tenet, will release his own book, At the Center of the Storm (HarperCollins). "It's expected to be hard hitting," says a person familiar with Tenet's nearly finished manuscript. "The facts are pretty compelling." Despite his insistence that he will play nice, Goss could join Tenet in shedding light on a number of major issues. They range from Bush's handling of Iraq and the extent of Vice President Cheney's influence over national security policy to Goss's view on the effectiveness of John Negroponte as the nation's first director of national intelligence. Goss was supplanted as the last DCI when Negroponte took over the newly created position of DNI in April 2005. About a year later, Negroponte ousted Goss, with Bush's approval, amid tensions that grew in part out of disagreements over some of the new DNI's plans for stripping some anti-terrorism and other functions from of the CIA.
Even if Goss holds back from tough criticism, he could write a colorful memoir. He served about a decade as a CIA case officer before illness forced him out of what he'd hoped would be a career as a spy. He then moved to Florida and started a small local newspaper before getting into politics. He won a seat in Congress in 1988 and eventually became intelligence committee chairman, a post from which Bush plucked him to become CIA director after Tenet stepped down in mid-2004.
Despite Goss's insistence that his book wouldn't be a tell-all, his old adversaries have reason to fear that he might name names. While in Congress, Goss was known at times for pointedly criticizing those with whom he disagreed. Although he was widely respected while in Congress, Goss's image took a beating during his CIA tenure, when he drew criticism as a hands-off manager of the agency who gave too much power to senior aides. Yet the CIA quietly opened many more overseas bases and stations during his tenure. It also streamlined personnel procedures to handle the influx of resumes received while the Agency was attempting to boost its number of spies and analysts with language skills.