(President George W. Bush and Lt. General Michael Hayden)
The crack team that puts out the American Progress Action Fund’s “Progress Report” has its Mike Hayden review out, and its predictably critical.
But they get the Michael Hayden picture half-wrong. Hayden — and now the super spy Steve Kappes who was fired by Goss and who will be the new CIA Deputy — may become the best hope of knocking back Don Rumsfeld’s imperialism over the national intelligence capacity of the country.
INTELLIGENCE — General Discontent With Hayden
On Friday, Porter Goss unexpectedly resigned as head of the CIA, leaving behind an “utterly irresponsible” 18-month tenure at the agency and unanswered questions about his hurried departure. Today, the White House nominated deputy director of national intelligence Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden as Goss’s successor. “Bottom line, I believe he’s the wrong person, the wrong place, at the wrong time. We should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) yesterday on Fox News Sunday, voicing the bipartisan concerns of lawmakers. Hayden has demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution and has misled Congress under oath. His close ties to Vice Presidency Cheney, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, and the Department of Defense have led many members of Congress to conclude he is wrong man to gain the trust of the intelligence community and clean up the CIA after the “chaos” left by Goss.
‘UNDER THE SWAY’ OF RUMSFELD: Over the weekend, a bipartisan group of lawmakers spoke out opposing the nomination of a military officer to a civilian agency. If Hayden is confirmed, “military officers would run all the major spy agencies, from the ultra-secret National Security Agency to the Defense Intelligence Agency.” One former intelligence official said, “It seems to me the Pentagon grows even stronger now. . . . Every time there’s a change, it moves in that direction.” “I think…putting a general in charge is going to send the wrong signal through the agency here in Washington, but also to our agents in the field around the world,” said Hoekstra yesterday, who also added that there will “be the perception in the CIA” that Hayden would be under the sway of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. One of Goss’s largest challenges at the CIA was gaining the trust of career officers, who resented that he brought in a group of his unqualified aides — called “the Gosslings” by CIA insiders — and appointed them to top positions. Even if Hayden retires from the military, he is unlikely to be trusted as the committed independent advocate that the CIA needs. “Now, just resigning commission and moving on, putting on a striped suit, a pinstriped suit versus an air force uniform, I don’t think makes much difference,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). Senate Intelligence Committee Pat Roberts (R-KS), who in 2005 called Hayden “outstanding,” yesterday refused to offer his endorsement of the administration’s nominee: “I’m not in a position to say that I am for General Hayden and will vote for him.”
But I have a different take on Hayden than what the majority of pundits are floating.
The “Progress Report” on the left as well as many on the right are gut-slugging Hayden for his role in overseeing and defending the warrantless wire tap program. I think that this criticism is wholly deserved, and if anything, those Republican and Democratic Congressman should be ashamed of themselves for not adding riders, amendments, and pushing bills and holding hearings to make it clear to the president that the Congressional authorization that the administration sites as its legal source of power for the warrantless wiretaps did not include domestic, unsupervised and extra-judicial wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping authority.
Congress has done virtually nothing on this. So, Hayden deserves the criticism, but Congress deserves more.
But set aside the wiretap issue for the moment.
What is interesting is that nearly all the pundits or politicos who have a problem with Hayden, an Air Force General, are asserting that his appointment would consolidate Rumsfeld’s efforts to establish comprehensive military dominance over the nation’s national security intelligence bureaucracy.
This is probably wrong in my view.
Hayden going to head CIA is John Negroponte’s effort to wrest some of the ground back from Rumsfeld in the intelligence wars underway. Hayden directed the National Security Agency before joining Negroponte as his Deputy. Hayden will still report to Negroponte — and Hayden’s familiary and expertise with the military dimensions of intelligence will help Negroponte set Rumsfeld back a few squares.
Poter Goss — whether he was knocked out of the position for potentially embarrassing issues (HookerGate) involving his staff (or himself) or for legitimate reasons of managerial differences with Negroponte — was never up to the bureaucratic battles with the Pentagon that he needed to fight to fend of Rumsfeld’s national intelligence control ambitions.
Most intelligence insiders know that Negroponte has been losing power and leverage to Rumsfeld. Some even think that Negroponte has accepted this fate and acquiesced to Rumsfeldian dominance of his operation.
But this move of Hayden says that the game is not over. Negroponte is not putting at the CIA a Rumsfeld-henchman. He’s putting in someone who — despite the duplicity about the warrantless wiretaps — many military officials respect and trust, and someone who understands the intel world in ways that Goss will never be able to.
Michael Hayden represents a next round of internal battles between Negroponte and Rumsfeld.
And given the incredible damage that Rumsfeld is doing to this nation’s national security — I’ll keep my own powder dry on Negroponte and Hayden. I think that what they may be doing now is important and potentially constructive in constraining the Rumsfeld/Cheney cabal.
— Steve Clemons
UPDATE: This hotline just out from ABC News:
Turmoil continues at the CIA: No. 3 official Dusty Foggo expected to resign, according to Brian Ross and ABC’s Investigative Team.
Look like the sex scandal called HookerGate is taking its toll.
Update TWO: The Porter Goss-fired Super Spy Steve Kappes is Returning as Hayden’s Deputy at CIA
Negroponte and Hayden are serious.
They are attempting to restore order and morale at a beleaguered CIA and knock back Rumsfeld’s intel imperialism that has been a thorn in Hayden’s and Negroponte’s side this last year.
Hayden plans to bring back Steve Kappes, who was an early casualty of Porter Goss’s tenure.
— Steve Clemons