Stephen Kappes

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Stephen Kappes
Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
In office
January 29, 2006 – May 5, 2010
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by Albert Calland
Succeeded by Michael Morell
Personal details
Born Stephen R. Kappes
(1951-08-22) August 22, 1951 (age 67)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Alma mater Ohio University
Ohio State University
Profession Intelligence officer
Military service
Service/branch Central Intelligence Agency
Years of service 1981–2002
Battles/wars War on Terrorism

Stephen R. Kappes (born August 22, 1951) was the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DDCIA), until his resignation on April 14, 2010.[1][2] He had served in the CIA since 1981, with a two-year hiatus. A career clandestine operations professional, Mr. Kappes was well known for his supervisory role in the extraordinary rendition program, a non-judicial system of rendering persons suspected of terrorism to secret locations where most of them were interrogated.[3][4] Mr. Kappes was also known for his role in persuading Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi to abandon his nuclear weapons program in 2003.[5] In 2009, Mr. Kappes was convicted in absentia by an Italian court for his headquarters-based role in the rendition and torture of an Egyptian citizen who was kidnapped from Italian soil by the CIA.

Education and military service

Kappes earned a Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine from Ohio University and a Master of Science degree in pathology from Ohio State University. He served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1976 to 1981.

First CIA tour (1981–2004)

Kappes joined the CIA in 1981 and has held a variety of operational and managerial assignments at CIA Headquarters and overseas, serving as assistant deputy director to former Deputy Director for Operations (DDO) James Pavitt, and later as DDO after Pavitt stepped down in August 2004. At the time of the September 11 attacks, Kappes was the associate deputy director for operations for counterintelligence.

Station chief postings

Kappes has been station chief in Moscow, New Delhi and Frankfurt and has served in Pakistan.[6]

Libya negotiations

Towards the end of his tenure with the CIA, he worked with President George W. Bush in negotiations with Libya that ended that country's weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) programs. In a joint diplomatic mission with the United Kingdom's MI6 head of counter terrorism Sir Mark Allen, the pair engaged with Libya's secret service head (Moussa Koussa, who later defected to the UK), which resulted in an end of support for terrorist activity by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s Libya, and a resultant end of international sanctions against Libya.[7]

Deputy Director of Operations

Kappes was named Deputy Director for Operations (DDO) for the CIA in June 2004 and took office in August 2004 while the appointment of Porter Goss as the next Director of Central Intelligence was still pending in the Senate. Kappes succeeded James Pavitt, who resigned in June 2004. Both Kappes and Pavitt (and others) oversaw the CIA’s Directorate for Operations during the controversial Iraq WMD reporting. He served in that position until he resigned in November 2004. John E. McLaughlin, the then-Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, announced his departure the same week Kappes quit, thus exacerbating the rumored management problems for Goss.

Dramatic departure in 2004

It had been widely reported in the press that Kappes quit the Agency rather than carry out a request by Goss to reassign Michael Sulick, his then deputy.[8] It is also reported that this incident occurred because the chief of staff admonished the then assistant Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, Mary Margaret Graham – who later worked for the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Negroponte – about leaking personnel information.[8] According to some news reports, Sulick had just engaged in a shouting match with Goss’s chief of staff.

For a brief period in between his senior appointments, Kappes worked in the private security industry. In April 2005, ArmorGroup, a British security firm, named him vice president in charge of global strategy, and named him Chief Operating Officer (COO) in November 2005.

Second CIA tour (2006–2010)

Kappes was named as the next DDCIA by Negroponte in May 2006. Kappes was believed to be the preferred choice for Director of the CIA in the incoming Obama administration by Senators Jay Rockefeller, the outgoing chairman, and Dianne Feinstein, the incoming chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.[9] Instead, Leon Panetta was appointed to the position in February 2009, and Kappes was retained as DDCIA, the latter a condition set by Feinstein in exchange for her support for the former.[10] [11]

Convicted of kidnapping, extraordinary rendition and torture

On November 4, 2009, in a landmark ruling, Italian judge Oscar Magi convicted 22 American CIA operatives of kidnapping Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, from the streets of Milan in 2003. Most of the top CIA officers had left the agency, with the exception of Kappes, who at the time was the assistant director of the CIA's clandestine branch.[12]

Role in hiding detainee death

Per official reports, Mr. Kappes was responsible for the alteration of records regarding the death of a detainee at the 'Salt Pit', a secret CIA interrogation operation in Afghanistan. A detainee froze to death, after having been showered with water, and left outside overnight. Mr. Kappes made certain that the death was retained 'off the books'. Two former officials who read the internal inspector general report made clear that the base chief was coached directly by Mr. Kappes on how to report the death as an accident. According to two former officials who read a CIA inspector general's report on the incident, Kappes coached the base chief—whose identity is being withheld at the request of the CIA—on how to respond to the agency's investigators. They would report it as an accident.[13]

Sudden retirement, no explanation

On April 14, 2010, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta reported that Kappes will be retiring in May.[14] The odd timing of the retirement, and lack of Presidential thanks for his years of service, led many to comment that this was a departure in disgrace.[2]


  1. Jeff Stein (March 25, 2010). "Inside Man". Washingtonian Magazine. Retrieved November 23, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Saturday, April 17, 2010 (April 17, 2010). "TIMMERMAN: A shadow warrior falls". Washington Times. Retrieved August 21, 2010. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Scott Horton (March 31, 2010). "Steve Kappes, Profiled". HARPER'S Magazine. Retrieved November 23, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Inside Man – News & Features". Retrieved August 21, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Mayer, Jane (2009), "The Secret History", The New Yorker, June 22, 2009, pg 54.
  6. Mayer, Op. cit.
  7. Glen Owen (September 6, 2009). "Ex-spy is BP's Lawrence of Arabia". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved February 23, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mark Mazzetti, 'A Storied Operative Returns to the C.I.A.', New York Times, May 30, 2006 [1]
  9. "First Read – Even more on the Panetta pick". January 5, 2009. Retrieved August 21, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. [2]
  11. Mayer, Op. ct.
  12. Donadio, Rachel (November 5, 2009). "Italy Convicts 23 Americans for C.I.A. Renditions". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Baram, Marcus (April 1, 2010). "Steve Kappes, CIA Deputy Director, Helped Cover Up Detainee Death, Washingtonian Reports". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Panetta Left to Fend for Himself With Top CIA Deputy Heading for the Door". Fox News. April 7, 2010. Retrieved August 21, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
James Pavitt
CIA Deputy Director for Operations
August 2004 – November 2004
Succeeded by
Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr.
Preceded by
Albert Calland
Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
July 2006 – April 2010
Succeeded by
Michael Morell