CIA Nominee Courts Support in Congress
President Bush’s CIA nominee, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, canvassed Capitol Hill on Tuesday 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 (R-Ill.) said he was surprised by the nomination and concerned about Hayden’s background.
“I don’t think a military guy should be head of CIA, frankly,” 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,” 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’s been very good at it.”
During the 36 hours after 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.
Several Republicans and a greater number of Democrats have expressed discomfort with Bush’s decision to choose a military man to run the CIA. House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, an Intelligence Committee member, are among the Republicans who have voiced doubts.
CIA Director Porter J. Goss announced his resignation Friday. Officials have said he had conflicts with National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte and Hayden.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said he hoped to begin Hayden’s confirmation hearings as soon as Tuesday.
“He probably has as much or more expertise in regards to intelligence as anyone,” Roberts said. “He is highly professional. I think that trumps any concerns that others may have.”