Monday, May 08, 2006

A "Civilian" Agency?

Critics of President Bush's nomination of Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to be Director of Central Intelligence have raised a suspicious objection - whether a military officer can lead the CIA.

(WaPo) Hayden ran the super-secretive NSA from 1999 until last year, when he became the top deputy to the new national intelligence director, John Negroponte, who oversees the CIA and 15 other intelligence agencies.

It could prove a contentious battle to switch to the CIA, given the reaction from lawmakers on the Sunday talk shows. They said the CIA is a civilian agency and putting Hayden atop it would concentrate too much power in the military for intelligence matters.

(UPI) Rep. Pete Hoekstra has said he respects Gen. Michael Hayden... but that a military person should not lead a civilian agency.

(AP) It will fall to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to keep order on the panel as it considers Hayden's confirmation. But even Roberts has acknowledged there is concern about someone from the military heading the CIA.

(Eugene Robinson - WaPo - the guy that forgot about internment and World War II) And given Donald Rumsfeld's ongoing power grab, we should really have a civilian, not an Air Force general, in charge of the CIA.
Quick note: Secretary Rumsfeld is a civilian and has been for decades. But beyond that, much more qualified people disagree:

Gen. Michael V. Hayden isn't the first active-duty military officer tapped to lead the CIA -- he is in fact the fifth -- but many intelligence experts and officers have bemoaned the idea of a general leading the agency at a time when the Pentagon is expanding its ability to engage in global spying and man-hunting, traditional realms of the CIA.

Despite such qualms, intelligence specialists say Hayden's appointment may turn out to be a clever move by intelligence czar John D. Negroponte to help him assert authority over Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his burgeoning intelligence bureaucracy. Negroponte, who by law oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, has expressed frustration that he has not made more progress in managing the agencies under the Defense Department's jurisdiction.

In addition, a rear admiral and a general each held the position of Director of Central Intelligence before the Central Intelligence Agency replaced the Central Intelligence Group. Another general preceded them as Director of Strategic Services during World War II. At least seven other directors had military experience.

To provide the history that critics were too lazy to check up on, here are the Directors of Central Intelligence, with their highest military ranks held before taking office:

Souers1946Rear AdmiralNavy
Vandenberg1946-47Lieutenant GeneralArmy (Air Forces)
Hillenkoetter1947-50Rear AdmiralNavy
Raborn1965-66Vice AdmiralNavy
Goss2004-05Intelligence officerArmy

And here's one interesting fact:
Although he comes from the world of high-tech signals intelligence, Hayden was an early proponent of scaling back the CIA's responsibilities so it could concentrate on human intelligence. As Negroponte's deputy, he helped reshape the CIA's directorate of operations into the National Clandestine Service, an effort that many CIA officers applauded.
Hopefully the Senate will be able to look at Gen. Hayden's qualifications without descending too far into ignorance, fear-mongering, and partisan obstructionism.


Bukko_in_Australia said...

It's not the fact that he's military that scares me, it's the fact that he's one of Negroponte's thugs. Negroponte was the one who led the death squad strategy in Central America in the 1980s, when the U.S. was responsible for setting loose killers to murder tens of thousands of civilians. And now we're setting loose death squads in Iraq which are killing tens of thousands of civilians. It won't be long now until the impending implosion of the U.S. economy causes massive social disruption that will bring out the death squads there. And you know what? It will be karma. I'm glad I emigrated to Australia while my money was still worth something. May you right-wingers get what you truly deserve...

Nick said...

I think New Zealand would have been a more fitting destination for you, Bukko.