The CIA Friday named as head of its espionage service a former senior official who quit three years ago amid a staff rebellion against the agency’s former director.

CIA director Michael Hayden announced the appointment of Michael Sulick as head of the National Clandestine Service, hailing him as a “proven leader who understands our agency and the intelligence community.”

Sulick was associate deputy director for operations when he resigned in August 2004 after a clash with then-director Porter Goss’s chief of staff over the treatment of another agency employee.

Sulick quit along with Stephen Kappes, who resigned rather than submit to demands that Sulick be reassigned.

Hayden brought back Kappes, a legend at the agency, as his deputy in one of his first acts after replacing Goss in May 2006.

The CIA director made no reference to that history in announcing Sulick’s return.

“A 25-year veteran of CIA, Mike is a familiar figure to many of you,” he said in a statement to agency employees.

“He has spent more than a decade in assignments abroad for the agency, including senior command positions. Mike has also excelled in crucial assignments here at headquarters,” he said.

Sulick served abroad with the CIA for 10 years, rising to division chief and chief of counter-intelligence before his last assignment as associate deputy director of operations, the CIA’s espionage arm.

“As a seasoned operations officer, Mike earned a reputation for superior tradecraft and sound judgment,” Hayden said.