Military Officer Likely to Get CIA Nod
Saturday, May 6, 2006; 11:03 PM
WASHINGTON -- With Gen. Michael Hayden's expected nomination to run the CIA, a military officer would be in charge of every major spy agency.
The question is: Will the headstrong CIA salute as he presses ahead with reforms?
Government officials all the way up to President Bush have called this a time of transition at the CIA.
Its director, Porter Goss, announced his resignation Friday, as the CIA and the 15 other U.S. spy agencies still adjust to life in an era of intelligence overhauls ordered by Congress. A December 2004 law was the most sweeping redesign of U.S. intelligence since 1947.
Enter Hayden, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte's top deputy and former National Security Agency chief who is considered the front-runner to succeed Goss.
California Rep. Jane Harman, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that when she travels overseas, she hears concerns from civilian CIA professionals about whether the Defense Department is taking over intelligence operations. She shares those concerns.
"They see all these new DoD folks running around," Harman said in an interview Saturday. "There are probably more people in uniform running around the intelligence community than any other time in history."
The White House said there was a "collective agreement" that the CIA needed a new leader now. A presidential spokeswoman, Dana Perino, told reporters that Goss played an important role in the fight against terrorism and "helped transform the agency to meet the challenging times we're living in."
She added: "Reports that the president had lost confidence in Porter Goss are categorically untrue."
As soon as Monday, the White House could announce Goss' replacement, which is likely to be Hayden.
If he were to get the nomination, military officers would run the major spy agencies, from the ultra-secret NSA to the Defense Intelligence Agency. Already, the Pentagon's Special Forces and other outfits are expanding their global role.
The next CIA chief must deal with low morale at the agency; uncertainties in the intelligence about hot spots such as Iran and North Korea; an uncontrolled insurgency in Iraq; and the pursuit _ fruitless so far _ of Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders.