- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2006

[2:04 p.m.]

President Bush today chose Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to lead the embattled CIA, re-igniting a debate over the domestic surveillance program that the one-time head of the National Security Agency once ran.

Republican and Democratic critics also questioned the wisdom of putting a military officer in charge of the civilian spy agency.

“Mike Hayden is supremely qualified for this position,” Mr. Bush said in the Oval Office, with Mr. Hayden at his side. Without mentioning Mr. Hayden’s critics or their objections, the president said: “He knows the intelligence community from the ground up.”

If confirmed, Mr. Hayden would replace Porter Goss, who resigned under pressure Friday.

He said that Mr. Hayden “has been a provider and consumer of intelligence.”

To balance the CIA between military and civilian leadership, the White House plans to move aside the agency’s No. 2 official, Vice Admiral Albert Calland III, who took over as deputy director less than a year ago, two senior administration officials said. Other personnel changes also are likely, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the changes are not ready to announce.

Talk of Mr. Hayden’s nomination rekindled debate over the administration’s domestic surveillance program, which Mr. Hayden used to oversee as the former head of the National Security Agency.

“There’s probably no post more important in preserving our security and our values as people than the CIA,” Mr. Hayden said.

Related article:

Bipartisan caution over CIA nominee

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