Hastert Loyal to Goss — Lashes Out at Hayden and Negroponte

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House Speaker Dennis Hastert is seriously confused about who scores gains and who loses if Michael Hayden is confirmed as successor to Porter Goss as Director of Central Intelligence.
In a short article that just appeared on Roll Call‘s website, Hastert lashes out as Negroponte for Goss’s firing, calling it a “power grab” by John Negroponte.
Oddly, Hastert also thinks that elevating Hayden will give too much influence over intelligence to the Pentagon. Hellooo?
John Bresnahan writes:

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has come out against the nomination of Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to head the CIA, calling the ousting of former Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) from the agency’s top post “a power grab” by John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence.
Hastert’s opposition to Hayden is not based on any personal reservations about the nominee. Rather, Hastert is concerned that installing a top-ranking military official at the “CIA would give too much influence over the U.S. intelligence community to the Pentagon.”
“I don’t know anything about him. He has never darkened my doorstep,” Hastert told reporters on Monday in Aurora, Ill., when asked about Hayden. “I don’t think a military guy should be head of CIA, frankly.”
Hastert added: “I don’t oppose him, I don’t know anything about him.” Hayden has been serving as Negroponte’s deputy following a six-year stint as head of the National Security Agency.
Hastert’s aides later expanded on his comments. “The Speaker does not believe that a military person should be leading the CIA, a civilian agency,” said Ron Bonjean, Hastert’s spokesman.
Hastert also said Negroponte stopped by his office Wednesday and made no mention of the fact that Goss, who served in the House with Hastert for 16 years, would be stepping down as CIA director two days later.
“It looks like a power grab by Mr. Negroponte,” said Hastert.

The reason Negroponte wants Michael Hayden is to check the Pentagon’s colonization of the national intelligence bureaucracy. To do that, Negroponte wants a loyal player who knows how the military dimensions of the national intelligence establishment is structured and what Rumsfeld’s imperious intentions are.
I’m not an apologist for Michael Hayden, whom I think played ‘loyal soldier’ a bit too much on the warrantless wiretap front — but the opposition to him regarding his military credentials is silly.
The balls to keep the eye on are DONALD RUMSFELD and the religious crusading defense spy chief, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Lt. General WILLIAM BOYKIN.
Hastert and his colleagues need to wake up, study the gaming going on, and understand that while they may not like Hayden — something needs to be done to balance the deck between Negroponte and Rumsfeld.
I think it’s smart to have General Hayden in place to shut down General Boykin and his team.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

34 comments on “Hastert Loyal to Goss — Lashes Out at Hayden and Negroponte

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  4. bloggerspace says:

    According to The New York Times, Negroponte carried out “the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinistas government in Nicaragua.”
    —————–
    bloggerspace.org: http://www.bloggerspace.org
    bloggertips.net: http://www.bloggertips.net
    —————–

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  5. Chad says:

    What is Negroponte’s power source? Obviously Goss had none other than Hassert and could not retain the power delegated to him in the face of trouble from inside the agency and takeover adventures by the military. Rumsfield has the power of the OVP which is exceedingly strong because of a weak president even though there seems to be trouble from the military similar to the CIA rebellion. Does Negroponte have the power base to oppose the OVP or is he another extention of it? From the distant outside it appears that it has to be the latter.

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  6. AlabamaYankee says:

    The entire discussion may be moot. I read a blog yesterday (sadly, I did not bookmark it) pointing out that it is illegal for both the DCI and the second in command to be military, either active or retired, and the the number two man is a Naval officer. If this is true, I’m surprised it hasn’t been noticed by the larger community.

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  7. J says:

    And when Hayden gets the CIA lead, will Gen Clapper be named the DNI Deputy?
    ….

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  8. GQ says:

    I really hate being so damn cynical, but this administration, perhaps at the prodding of Rove, seems to operate on nothing more than trying to score political points. Rove’s strategy is to paint Democrats as having a “pre 9-11” mindset. Hayden and the whole NSA wiretapping issue is one that the White House seem to think they can win. I’d really–and I mean really–like to believe that Bush wants to improve our intelligence capabilities, but he has demonstrated no leadership beyond playing politics and rewarding loyalists. I need to be convinced that this is really more substantive.

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  9. anonymous says:

    All this intrigue is irrelevant. The important point is that Hayden is a typical W appointee–and incompetent suckup fuckup. Courtesy of tpmmuckraker, his aide was involved in political donor scams, and he was a complete failure as head of NSA:
    Under Hayden, NSA Went “Deaf,” Spending Skyrocketed
    By Justin Rood – May 9, 2006, 10:40 AM
    Baltimore Sun reporter Siobhan Gorman recently did some outstanding reporting on the technology problems and truly massive cost overruns at NSA when Michael Hayden was director. Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball mentioned it in his recent piece on Hayden’s nomination to be CIA director, which led me to re-read her pieces.
    Oh, my goodness.
    In short, Gorman found that between 1999 and 2005, the NSA bungled two key technology programs and an important oversight effort. As a result, “The agency has been gradually ‘going deaf,’ as unimportant communications drown out key pieces of information,” an official told Gorman. Meanwhile, the secretive agency has been burning through billions — billions — of dollars.
    “Nearly 4 1/2 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the NSA lacks a system to comprehensively evaluate all of the communications collected by its vast networks of high-tech ears,” Gorman concluded.
    “Agency computers have trouble talking to each other and frequently crash, key bits of data are sometimes lost, and vital intelligence can be overlooked.”
    Here’s the kicker: Because of the failures under Hayden, the NSA actually lost authority. Congress was so upset by these techno-screwups and cost overruns that it stripped the agency of the power to sign its own big-ticket contracts — and gave it to the Department of Defense. This is the guy who’s going to strengthen the CIA’s hand against the Pentagon?
    The key failures, according to Gorman:
    – Trailblazer: Despite blowing through $1.2 billion and six years of work, this effort to revolutionize the way the NSA sifts through captured communications is effectively still on the drawing board. (An early attempt to implement it caused a 3 1/2 day “meltdown,” Gorman wrote; Hayden later described it as the NSA going “brain dead.”) Even today, the agency loses access to vast amounts of data that may contain important intelligence.
    – Groundbreaker: Announced by Hayden in 2000, this $2 billion program to improve the NSA’s hardware and maintenance is still incomplete — although the cost is thought to now exceed $4 billion. Despite the massive price tag, an investigation discovered Hayden’s “key” program lacked a quality control mechanism, or a contract management program.
    – Cryptologic Mission Management: A $300 million effort to develop software that could track major projects — like Trailblazer and Groundbreaker — is essentially kaput. As a result, the NSA still “has no mechanism to systematically assess whether it is spending money effectively and getting what it has paid for,” sources told Gorman.
    Of course, none of this disqualified Hayden from rising to be the Deputy Director of National Intelligence, the second most powerful post (in title, anyway) in the U.S. intelligence community, in April 2005. Will it affect his nomination to lead the CIA today?

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  10. snookered says:

    The idea of someone outside the ideological divide taking this post is unreasonable. The conspiratorial theorist in me says these appointments carry more importance/weight than the job title expresses. You likely have to buy into that federalists crap or the theory about the presidency that Alito promoted (forget the name).

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  11. kelley b. says:

    Smoke and mirrors and shell games.
    Steve’s right that Boykin’s dangerous. But then, all of these people are. They can jockey against each other, circle their wagons, and launch their missiles against Iran all at the same time.
    Okay: Dear Leader can’t, but he’s a figurehead, and even he knows it.
    The name of the game is Hegemon, and I think more than one neocon Trotsky will go down before the real deal Stalin moves into town.

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  12. ET says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the idea of a “power grab” would indicate a new area Negroponte would wanting to move into, that he isn’t currently involved in. Isn’t CIA under the Negroponte umbrella right now? So what power grab is Hastert talking about?
    Also, I assume that Hayden would have to give up the Air Force if he gets the job so he wouldn’t be military, just ex-military (of which I assume CIA has a fair number of).
    I don’t know if Hayden would or wouldn’t provide a bulwark, don’t know if that was or wasn’t the reason for the choice. I don’t think Hayden is necessarily a good choice but I think coherent objections are better.

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  13. John B. says:

    Good question pkoso

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  14. pkoso says:

    Steve, (I’d even argue that the following is naive, but given all that we’ve seen in six years, I’ll ask it anyway)…
    Isn’t it possible that GOP opposition to Hayden and the resulting noise (not enough to defeat him, mind you) has been orchestrated to some extent, all in effort to focus the media’s attention on something other than the reason’s for Goss’s departure (i.e. Hookergate, Foggo, et al)?

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  15. Punchy says:

    Neil makes a great point. If he’s still a military guy, isn’t his official boss still Rumsfeld? But doesn’t he also answer to Negroponte, by definition of his job title? So who, really, tells him what to do should those two be at odds? Can anyone explain this logically?
    I think the Admin. wants to go to Iran. They want a compliant and quiet CIA, one that does not contradict whatever bullshit they peddle. Putting a Rumsfeld patsy in this role is perfect (of course, I think Goss would have served the same purpose…) for their intentions.

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  16. elmonogrande says:

    It’s a sad day when a war criminal like Negroponte is proposed as the best hope for “constraining the Rumsfeld/Cheney cabal.” While Rumsfield & Cheney have done incredible damage during their tenure, I have to admit that I am not exactly thrilled that the man who may constrain them supported torture, death squads, and worked against democracy in Latin America during the 1980’s.

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  17. lugbolt says:

    Who can really know? I tend to side with Cleamon’s point of view. Falling poll numbers show how successful the Cheney/Rumfield cabal has been. Perhaps this represents movement towards a new cabal of Bush/Negreponti/Hayden. And what’s with Hastert? Let’s hope that Nov 06 provides an opportunity for more light.

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  18. NeilS says:

    The problem is structural. I don’t see how military intelligence can be under the direction of both the DNI and the Defense Department. This is an untenable situation no matter how you play the politics. They cannot answer to two bosses.

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  19. dancing madly backwards says:

    To get to the bottom of what this shake-up is all about, one must ask, “What sort of Evil are these guys up to this time?” They are taking the initiative in these acts in order to accomplish something. This is a “next step,” a move towards a goal. Something big is up. They are on the offensive. “We Won’t Back Down – We never have. – We never will.” says it all about what they’re up to. Damn, the torpedoes full speed ahead with imposing their ideology and world view on the country and the world.

    Reply

  20. Chris says:

    I agree with elle loco. IF there is any turf battle going on between them, Negroponte needs to use someone else, not Hayden. When you start with the whole NSA spying thing and add to it this (http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/000592.php), it makes him sound terribly bad for the CIA.

    Reply

  21. PW says:

    Steve, your sunny view is very appealing but sad. Hastert’s a dead man, so dead that one has to be reminded who he is. In fact, he may have spoken out just to remind us that he’s still around. Like, uh, Denny, who cares!
    Then, too, I find it exceedingly hard to believe that Hayden is anything less than a stalking horse for the Pentagon. And it’s the Pentagon that’s the biggest, worstest, nastiest, scariest monster we know, way worse than Ahmadinejad or bin Laden.
    The oldster in me wishes to remind you kids that if, 20 years ago, we had known that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Negroponte and the rest of that gang would have as much power as they do today, we’d have… but hell, we should have known!!

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  22. elle loco says:

    Steve, the eavesdropping program is an absolute abomination and a dealbreaker. No sentient American citizen and patriot should want to see this Hayden character atop the CIA–all this bureaucratic politics is second-order stuff compared to the erosion of our fundamental rights and civil liberties. Let Negroponte find another dog for that hunt. Screw Hayden.

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  23. da powah says:

    Hastert is against the Bush nomination of Hayden in order for the Republicans in the legislative branch to distance themselves and delibrately to put themselves at odds with an Executive at 31% approval, so that the midterms will be between two parties against Bush, instead of just the Dems. Everybody runs against Bush in the midterms, muddle the differences between candidates, and the Republicans have a chance to retain power.

    Reply

  24. TSop says:

    This group is all in this together! There is no checking of anything! GET REAL. Old Washington discussions of turf wars and infighting is bullshit. These guys are going into Iran with nukes and are circling the wagons.

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  25. tjschill says:

    Ah, Steve… last I checked Bush was the Decider… and he decided on Hayden… And we all know Bush is devoid of Intelligence, so these strings are being pulled by OVP and the cabal… I’m not drinking the Kool Aide on this one, and its looks like pretty devious spin designed to win over those who otherwise would be Hayden detractors… Keep drinking from the chalace…

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  26. Nell says:

    Even if one accepts your (so far lightly supported) analysis of the Hayden-Negroponte vs. Rumsfeld-Boykin struggle, shouldn’t the Rumsfeld end of the spectrum be described as Rumsfeld-Cambone-Boykin? Cambone is Boykin’s direct boss, and the person charged with “overseeing” the special access programs Rumsfeld set up after the September 11 attacks.

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  27. Greg says:

    Aren’t you concerned about this?
    “While director of the National Security Agency, Gen. Michael V. Hayden contracted the services of a top executive at the company at the center of the Cunningham bribery scandal, according to two former employees of the company.”
    http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/000581.php

    Reply

  28. Pedro says:

    What makes this line of opposition so incredibly stupid is that Admiral Stansfield Turner served as the Chief of the CIA under President Carter.
    I do not hear any allegations or comments from the press (or anyone else) that Admiral Turner did a poor job because of his military background.

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  29. cs says:

    I find the player and the moves in all this most confusing. You and others hold there is a battle being waged, but how do we know it’s not for show? I wish there was more concrete evidence of this tug-of-war between Rumsfeld and Negroponte; I don’t really see Cheney and Rummy folks on opposite sides, myself.

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  30. canker says:

    Steve–
    You may be correct, but you are not making your case where anyone can judge it. Is there no one who can stand up to Rumsfeld who isn’t on active duty and on the record as having a dubious understanding of the Fourth Amendment? Is there no one who isn’t likely to be a witness or a defendant if the administration’s wiretapping shenanigans ever get to court?
    Hastert appears to be expressing reasonable reservations.

    Reply

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