Can Hayden Be Confirmed For CIA Post?

Deputy National Intelligence Director Gen. Michael Hayden talks about national security threats as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 28, 2006, with Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.
AP Photo
Just two days after Porter Goss's surprise resignation from the top spot at the CIA, debate over President George Bush's likely replacement is heating up.

White House officials have said that Air Force General Michael Hayden will be tapped to head the embattled spy agency, with an official announcement coming as soon as Monday.

Congressional support for Hayden is far from unanimous, even among Republicans, and some see a long and difficult confirmation process.

Democrats and Republicans on Sunday questioned whether the civilian spy agency should have a director with Hayden's military background.

But, on CBS' Face The Nation, Sen. John McCain – who said he is "inclined" to support the nomination – said, "General Hayden is really more of an intelligence person than he is an Air Force officer."

Despite a distinguished career at the Defense Department, Hayden would be "the wrong person, the wrong place at the wrong time," said the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Peter Hoekstra.

"There are ongoing tensions between this premier civilian intelligence agency and DOD as we speak," Hoekstra said. "And I think putting a general in charge — regardless of how good Mike is — ... is going to send the wrong signal through the agency here in Washington but also to our agents in the field around the world," he told "Fox News Sunday."

If Hayden were to get the nomination, military officers would run the major spy agencies in the United States, from the ultra-secret National Security Agency to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The Pentagon already controls more than 80 percent of the intelligence budget.

"You can't have the military control most of the major aspects of intelligence," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The CIA "is a civilian agency and is meant to be a civilian agency," she said on ABC's "This Week."

A second committee member, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, added, "I think the fact that he is a part of the military today would be the major problem."

Democratic Sen. Joe Biden mentioned fears the CIA would "just be gobbled up by the Defense Department" if Hayden were to take over.