The CIA has "removed its top officer in Baghdad" and " closed a number of satellite bases in Afghanistan."
Confronting problems on critical fronts, the CIA recently removed its top officer in Baghdad because of questions about his ability to lead the massive station there, and has closed a number of satellite bases in Afghanistan amid concerns about that country's deteriorating security situation, according to U.S. intelligence sources.
The previously undisclosed moves underscore the problems affecting the agency's clandestine service at a time when it is confronting insurgencies and the U.S.-declared war on terrorism, current and former CIA officers say. They said a series of stumbles and operational constraints have hampered the agency's ability to penetrate the insurgency in Iraq, find Osama bin Laden and gain traction against terrorism in the Middle East.
The CIA's Baghdad station has become the largest in agency history, eclipsing the size of its post in Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War, a U.S. official said.
The U.S. official acknowledged that the CIA station chief in Baghdad was removed in December after weeks of increasingly deadly and sophisticated attacks against U.S.-led coalition forces and civilian targets.
"There was just a belief that it was a huge operation and we needed a very senior, very experienced person to run it," the official said.
The official declined to disclose the number of CIA personnel in Iraq, but other sources said it exceeded 500 people.