Bush Names Air Force General to Head CIA
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush on Monday chose Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to lead the embattled CIA, re-igniting a debate over the domestic surveillance program that he 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 extremely qualified for this position," Bush said in the Oval Office, with Hayden at his side. "He knows the intelligence community from the ground up."
If confirmed, Hayden would replace Porter Goss, who resigned under pressure Friday.
He said that 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 Hayden's nomination rekindled debate over the administration's domestic surveillance program, which 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," Hayden said.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., had said in advance of the announcement that he would use a Hayden nomination to raise questions about the legality of the domestic surveillance program and did not rule out holding it up until he gets answers. "I'm not going to draw any lines in the sand until I see how the facts evolve," Specter said on Fox.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was concerned that Hayden's nomination would detract from the real issue of intelligence reform.
"The debate in the Senate may end up being about the terrorist surveillance program and not about the future of the CIA or the intelligence community, which is exactly where the debate needs to be," Hoekstra said on CBS' "The Early Show."
"This is about whether we still have alignment and agreement between the executive branch and Congress as to where intelligence reform needs to go," he said.
Hoekstra's sentiment was echoed by Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who said that Hayden's military background would be a "major problem," and several Democrats who made the rounds of the Sunday television talk shows. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said Hayden could leave agents with the impression that the CIA has been "just gobbled up by the Defense Department."
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