TIFFIN, Ohio – Outgoing CIA Director Porter Goss on Saturday urged college graduates to help government work for its citizens rather than count on it or even fight it.
Goss, in remarks prepared for delivery at commencement exercises at Tiffin University, made no references to his unexpected resignation Friday after 19 months as chief of the spy agency. He did tell graduates that they were joining in the responsibility for maintaining the republic.
"I am proud to admit 'I am from government,"' said Goss, who has served in state and federal positions for more than 40 years. "And I want to give you a message: Don't reflexively count on government. Don't fight it either. Help it. Help it work for us — for all Americans and for all people who cherish freedom."
Before commencement, Goss met privately for an hour with students enrolled in the university's national security studies program. Corinne Blake, a junior from Akron, Ohio, said afterward that Goss was in an upbeat mood while taking questions from students. No one asked him directly why he resigned, she said.
"We were informed ahead of time he wasn't there to talk about current events," Blake said.
In his prepared remarks, Goss said that if he were addressing a graduating class of CIA case officers, he would advise them, "Admit nothing, deny everything, and make counteraccusations."
Goss commended Tiffin, which has programs in homeland security and terrorism as well as intelligence and international studies, and other small institutions with a diverse student background.
"We need to reach out and tap into our nations deep diversity so we don't have 'cookie-cutter' officers who act, look, speak and think alike. 'Groupthink' is a dangerous trap in any profession but especially so in the intelligence business," he said.
"Recruiting in ones own image leads to self-delusion. By reflecting Americas rich variety of perspectives, CIA is obviously better prepared to carry out our global mission in such a multifaceted world," he said.
Goss replaced George Tenet as CIA director in September 2004. When he announced his resignation Friday, Goss said little about the reasons for leaving. President Bush referred to Goss' tenure as a time of transition for the agency.
The CIA has struggled during the reorganization of U.S. intelligence operations ordered in the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and revelations that intelligence provided before the Iraq war turned out to be seriously flawed.