The chairman of the House intelligence committee, already opposed to President Bush’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, said the president’s choice for deputy director was guilty of “gross insubordination.”
Rep. Peter Hoekstra said yesterday that it is clear the White House did not want congressional input on the nominations of Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden as CIA director and Stephen R. Kappes as the No. 2 official at the agency.
“You would think that on the No. 2 person they might have just said, ‘Hey, what do you think of this guy,’ but they never did,” Mr. Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, said yesterday during a 90-minute meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.
Mr. Bush has not officially nominated Mr. Kappes, who quit the CIA in November 2004 after a dust-up with Porter J. Goss, who was director at the time.
Mr. Hoekstra said Mr. Goss had “real concerns” about Mr. Kappes because he asked him to “do certain things or to stop from doing certain types of things, and the guy refused.” Mr. Hoekstra said he began checking up on the former deputy director of operations and was getting mixed reviews on his performance.
“At a minimum, what you could say is that there was gross insubordination by Kappes,” the lawmaker said.
Others have questioned Mr. Kappes’ loyalty to Mr. Bush and suspect he was involved in leaking classified information to reporters.
Mr. Hoekstra said the selection of Mr. Kappes seems like “going back to the future.”
Rep. Jane Harman, California Democrat and the ranking member on Mr. Hoekstra’s committee, said having Mr. Kappes as the deputy would ease some of her worries about Gen. Hayden. She said Mr. Kappes’ past clashes with CIA officials are evidence that “he is willing to speak truth to power,” adding that he would reassure CIA employees. Other lawmakers have made similar comments.
Several members of Congress think Mr. Goss, a former Republican representative from Florida, was mistreated during his CIA tenure, which lasted less than two years.
Mr. Hoekstra has openly criticized Gen. Hayden, the deputy director of national intelligence, calling him the “wrong man at the wrong place at the wrong time.” The lawmaker said yesterday that under a military leader, the CIA is likely to build up more bureaucracy.
“You are not creating the kind of agency that we’re going to need over there. You are not going to get the diversity of opinion,” Mr. Hoekstra said.
Still, the general seems headed for an easy confirmation in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during its scheduled hearing tomorrow.
Gen. Hayden will be questioned during the hearing about his role in crafting the Bush administration’s warrantless terrorist surveillance program when he led the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005. The White House will brief House and Senate intelligence panels on the program soon, officials said yesterday.