- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006


President Bush’s CIA nominee, Gen. Michael Hayden, canvassed Capitol Hill yesterday, addressing Republican and Democratic concerns about a military officer running the civilian agency and about his close ties to the warrantless surveillance program.

In a break with the White House, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, said he was surprised by the nomination and concerned about Gen. Hayden’s background.

“I don’t think a military guy should be head of CIA, frankly,” Mr. Hastert said. “I don’t know anything about him.”

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld rejected suggestions that the Defense Department was making a “power play” to dominate the spy community, calling talk of bureaucratic turf fights between civilian intelligence agencies and military leaders “theoretical conspiracies.”

“He’s an intelligence professional,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. “He’s a person who has had assignment after assignment after assignment in the intelligence business. And, clearly, that is what his career has been. And he has been very good at it.”

During the 36 hours since Gen. Hayden’s nomination was announced, the White House said the general had called more than 25 members of Congress and was meeting with others this week.

Aside from Mr. Hastert, several Republicans and Democrats have expressed discomfort with Mr. Bush’s decision to choose a military man to run the CIA, including House intelligence committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican and member of the Senate intelligence committee.

Porter J. Goss resigned as CIA director on Friday, offering little explanation. Officials have said he had conflicts with Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte and Gen. Hayden.

Mr. Hastert said Mr. Negroponte came by his office last week and did not mention any problems with Mr. Goss, a former House member.

“It looks like a power grab by Mr. Negroponte,” Mr. Hastert said at an event in Aurora, Ill., in his home district Monday.

Gen. Hayden’s calls and meetings were seen as an attempt to smooth relations with Mr. Goss’ former colleagues in Congress, where the former House intelligence committee chairman still has friends. Because of those ties, the White House expected that Gen. Hayden or any nominee could run into resistance from the House.

Attention is focused on the Senate, particularly its intelligence committee, which will address the Senate confirmation first. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, called Gen. Hayden “the ideal man for the job.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and chairman of the committee, said he hopes to hold a confirmation hearing as soon as next week and thinks “the dust is settling” on Gen. Hayden’s selection.

“He probably has as much or more expertise in regards to intelligence as anyone,” Mr. Roberts said. “He is highly professional. I think that trumps any concerns that others may have.”

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, the panel’s top Democrat, and Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and a member of the panel, have withheld judgment on Gen. Hayden.

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