- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2006

Republicans and Democrats voiced concerns yesterday about the expected appointment of a military general to replace outgoing CIA Director Porter J. Goss, who resigned abruptly last week.

“There is some real concern about somebody from the military heading the CIA,” Senate intelligence committee Chairman Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, said of Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the Bush administration’s reported front-runner for the job.

Mr. Roberts, who will preside over the next spy chief’s confirmation hearings, told CNN’s “Late Edition” the issue may be resolved quickly if Gen. Hayden were to resign his military commission.

An Air Force officer for nearly 40 years, Gen. Hayden has continued to wear the uniform in multiple intelligence posts, including as head of the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1999 through last year, and in his current job as top deputy to National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, and a member of the intelligence committee, said that while Gen. Hayden “is very well respected in the community,” simply “putting on a striped suit, a pinstriped suit versus an Air Force uniform, I don’t think that makes much difference.”

Another committee member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, said the general’s experience makes him “a logical choice,” but that federal law stipulates a civilian should run the agency. “This isn’t the [Defense Intelligence Agency] or the NSA, which are military agencies,” said Mrs. Feinstein, who appeared with Mr. Chambliss on ABC.

“It’s meant to be a civilian agency,” she said. “He might think about resigning his commission if he’s going to do this. You can’t have the military, I think, control, you know, most of the major aspects of intelligence.”

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, who heads the House Select Committee on Intelligence, went further saying the nation simply “should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time.”

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Hoekstra cited Gen. Hayden’s “distinguished career,” but stressed ongoing tension between the CIA and the Defense Department in light of post-September 11 intelligence reforms. “Regardless of how good Mike is, 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,” he said.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, who appeared also on “Fox News Sunday,” echoed concerns of the CIA being “quite frankly, just gobbled up by the Defense Department.”

President Bush may nominate a new CIA director as early as today. A key player in post-September 11 reforms of the intelligence community, Gen. Hayden’s name has been circulated as a leading choice.

His career has seen him in several key intelligence posts. In the early 1990s, he headed the intelligence directorate of the military’s U.S. European Command and he commanded the Air Intelligence Agency prior to being appointed by President Clinton to head the NSA.

Mr. Bush tapped him last year to serve under Mr. Negroponte in the newly created Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). As the central reform since September 11, the DNI is tasked with coordinating information gathered by 16 spy agencies, including the CIA.

But about 80 percent of the combined budgets of those agencies already falls under Pentagon control, and should Gen. Hayden become head of the CIA, military officers would effectively be in charge of the nation’s three main intelligence assets — the CIA, NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Army Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander is the present head of the NSA.

Mrs. Feinstein and others, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, meanwhile, raised questions about Gen. Hayden’s role in creating the Bush administration’s politically explosive domestic eavesdropping program, the legality of which is under review by the Senate.

“The domestic surveillance program has been put together by the NSA, and, of course, he was the head of the NSA for part of that time,” Mrs. Feinstein said. “You can be sure that members have major questions about this program, particularly because the president and the administration chose not to use the legal means … which should have been the case.”

Mr. Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, who also appeared on Fox, said a nomination of Gen. Hayden would give Congress “an opportunity to find out about what the program is.”

“The president claims Article II powers. He may have them, but that’s a balancing act as to the nature of the program,” Mr. Specter said. “There’s no doubt there’s an enormous threat from terrorism. But the president does not have a blank check.”

Gen. Hayden’s confirmation hearings could be used “for leverage to find out, and I think people do want to know, what’s going on to protect civil liberties,” he said.

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