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Anger On Capitol Hill Over Wiretaps Builds Against Hayden

US President George W. Bush (R) listens to his nominee to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency,(CIA) General Michael V. Hayden (C) as Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte looks on during the Oval Office announcement 08 May, 2006 at the White House in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of Tim Sloan and AFP.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) May 16, 2006
The upcoming Senate confirmation battle over Gen. Michael Hayden's selection as the next CIA director could destroy the best hope of putting the troubled agency back on track.

Hayden, a four-star Air Force General has proven himself one of America's top intelligence agency executives during his years running the super-secret National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005. His stellar reputation ensured easy confirmation when he was nominated to be John Negroponte's deputy director of national intelligence last year.

However, the latest revelations in the newspaper USA Today about the enormous extent of U.S. phone records accessed by the NSA under Gen. Hayden's direction after Sept. 11, 2001, has outraged even conservative senators on Capitol Hill who were previously among Hayden's most ardent supporters.

The controversy only gained in intensity over the weekend with such powerful senators as Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont expressing their concerns over Hayden's involvement in the phone record monitoring.

In fact, the Senate looks extremely unlikely to try and take any action whatsoever to rein in or limit President George W. Bush's exercise of executive powers on domestic surveillance. For all the huffing and puffing on both sides on Capitol Hill, neither Republicans nor Democrats want to go on record as reining in security surveillance programs for fear that they could be held accountable for the lack of sufficient surveillance, or new limitations on surveillance if there is eventually another mega-terrorist attack as bad as, or even worse than, those of Sept. 11, 2001.

Instead the Senate Intelligence Committee is much more likely to focus on giving Gen. Hayden a hard time in his hearings starting Thursday. An additional justification for this may be in the argument that appointing Gen. Hayden, who has worked so closely with Negroponte, as the next CIA Director, will endanger civil liberties by concentrating too much power in a small circle of hands. A related argument is that giving a serving U.S. Air Force general control of the CIA will give the Pentagon even more power over it.

In fact, the opposite is likely to be the case. Hayden has worked closely with Negroponte. But Negroponte has repeatedly struggled with hard-charging U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who runs the lavishly funded Department of Defense and armed forces intelligence agencies with an iron hand. Rumsfeld, not the CIA, has been the biggest obstacle to restructuring and smoothly integrating the bewildering maze of 16 different federal U.S. if intelligence agencies that the "9/11 " Commission urged.

The CIA declined precipitously in effectiveness, morale and prestige during the troubled tenure of Porter Goss. But Goss despised veteran agency intelligence analysts and senior executives, and Hayden has already made clear he wants them on his side.

Hayden's -- and Negroponte's -- pick as his Number 2 at CIA is in fact the agency's former Director of Operations, Stephen Kappes, who resigned in anger at Goss's management calls.

This pick in fact echoes Hayden's impressive management record in the U.S. Air Force and at the NSA. He repeatedly proved himself a skilled and tactful manager who combined great bureaucratic expertise with an effective but relaxed managerial style. He chose strong, able executives as his deputies and worked will with them, former colleagues say.

A strong Senate push to derail the Hayden nomination, therefore, could rob the CIA of exactly the kind of leadership it so desperately needs without providing the kind of constructive congressional consultation and oversight that the U.S. national security community and the Bush administration need to re-establish to restore public trust in their necessary surveillance programs.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration and both parties in Congress have often seemed to choose the most unworkable, impractical or disastrous of different options open to them on security policies. Many U.S. intelligence community veterans fear that rejecting the Hayden nomination would be another example of that depressing pattern.

Source: United Press International

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