Stephen J. Hadley, who will be elevated to national security adviser after Condoleezza Rice wins Senate confirmation as secretary of state, is a quintessential staff aide who views himself as a "facilitator" -- someone who makes the policy trains run on time.
But Hadley's record on that score is mixed. The Sept. 11 commission report was critical of Hadley's handling of policy development in several areas. Hadley was also thrust into an uncomfortable spotlight when he accepted blame in 2003 for allowing faulty intelligence to appear in the president's State of the Union address.
Hadley, 57, has worked his way up through a succession of government posts, with Vice President Cheney as one of his main advocates. But although becoming national security adviser has long been Hadley's dream, he has not left behind a rich paper trail of writings or books that outline a foreign policy philosophy, except for displaying a passion for missile defense. He appears to have won his coveted post in part through a combination of long hours, tight-lipped loyalty and a tendency to call little attention to himself.
"He has a severe case of 'prison pallor' because he's in the office all the time," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, who served on the "deputies committee" chaired by Hadley when he was deputy director of the White House Budget Office.
Stephen E. Biegun, who was executive secretary of the NSC early in the administration, echoed that, noting: "I worked ungodly hours, but I never spent a minute more in the office than the guy I worked for."
O'Keefe, who also worked with Hadley in the Pentagon when Cheney headed it during President George H.W. Bush's administration, described himself as a "huge Steve Hadley fan." He said that Hadley is not contentious, does not take disputes personally and is unfailingly pleasant.
David Gribbin, who also worked with Hadley in Cheney's Defense Department, said that Hadley is not arrogant and was always "very respectful" to Cheney. "He did not hesitate to posit a different point of view, but he was always prepared and did not posture," Gribbin said.
Hadley was a campaign adviser to George W. Bush on foreign policy during the 2000 campaign, but he does not appear to have forged the same personal relationship with the president that Rice has. As Hadley characteristically sat silent in the front row during the ceremony announcing Rice's nomination, Bush yesterday called Hadley a "man of wisdom and good judgment" who "has earned my trust."
Before joining the Bush administration, Hadley was a lawyer at Shea & Gardner and a principal in the Scowcroft Group, a consulting firm. He was assistant secretary of defense from 1989 to 1993, a member of the national security staff from 1974 to 1977 and a Defense Department analyst from 1972 to 1974.
He is married to a Justice Department lawyer and has two daughters.
As Rice's chief aide, Hadley has been responsible for the day-to-day running of the National Security Council, especially because she has spent so much time at Bush's side. Hadley dealt with a variety of personnel and policy issues, while trying to frame the debate for the contentious issues faced by the administration. He tried to forge consensus through formal meetings and through informal settings such as the "Wednesday Group," a weekly lunch of the five key deputies in the government.
Some administration insiders have faulted Hadley for allowing Pentagon officials to rewrite the summary of decision meetings more to their liking -- or for permitting policy disputes to fester. For instance, on May 14, 2002, when the administration was debating what to say to the North Koreans at its first high-level bilateral meeting, State Department representatives, led by Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage, believed they had secured the approval of Hadley to adopt the middle-ground approach, known as option 2.
But during the meeting, Hadley announced he had looked at option 2 but really favored option 3, the more hard-line approach, according to the notes of one attendee. Armitage recovered and said he wanted what he called "2b" -- a combination of 2 and 3. The inconclusive result allowed the hawks on North Korea policy to build more support for their position, according to officials involved.
The Sept. 11 commission, which relied on extensive interviews with administration officials, portrayed Hadley as not effective in resolving several policy issues, such as the question of whether to retaliate for al Qaeda's attack on the USS Cole in October 2000 and the issue of how to use an unmanned drone aircraft, the Predator, that was being refitted with Hellfire missiles.
Hadley concluded that a policy toward al Qaeda should be framed within the context of regional policy, delaying final decisions from April 2001 until just before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the report said.
On the Predator, the report said Hadley attempted at one point to hurry along preparation of an armed system, directing the CIA, Defense department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to have it capable of being armed no later than September 2001, and to have the cost-sharing arrangements in place by Aug. 1.
The push backfired. Rice told the commission that Hadley's attempt to dictate a solution failed and she had to intervene.
The lowest point for Hadley in the first term came when he accepted blame for the error in the State of the Union address, in which Bush pointed to evidence that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium in Africa. Hadley acknowledged that he had received two memorandums from the CIA calling the evidence weak, and that he should have removed the 16 words about the alleged procurement from Bush's speech.
"I failed in that responsibility," a shaken-looking Hadley told reporters in July 2003, after the CIA memos were discovered.