In a move that TIME correspondents say surprised everyone in its timing, CIA Director James Woolsey -- long criticized for his handling of the Aldrich Ames spy case -- resigned today. Woolsey said his "family figures prominently" in the decision to quit. President Clinton said he accepted the resignation "with regret." Woolsey had been under fire for weeks by lawmakers for not adequately punishing CIA officials for bungling the Ames case. Ames, a CIA counterintelligence officer, had been spying for Russia for eight years before being arrested last year. Woolsey reprimanded 11 senior officials but the Senate Intelligence Committee called the action "seriously inadequate" for a "disaster of unprecedented proportions." While Woolsey had long been rumored to be on his way out, to do it now, when the Administration is operating on a skeleton holiday crew, was unexpected. "It was a surprise even to people in the White House," says TIME White House correspondent Jay Carney.A top contender for CIA director: John Deutch, deputy defense secretary and the second-in-command at the Pentagon. Deutch "would probably be confirmed easily and has expressed interest in the job," says TIME Washington correspondent Doug Waller. The biggest challenge for the successor remains adapting the agency to a post-Cold War world, Waller adds.