I picked this story up off of the Wall Street Journal Online. It is very dangerous for our politicians to be concerning themselves with beating up on Bush. Now is the time for protecting America.
Russ Feingold has made it very clear he has every intention of putting the wire tapping issue on trial during the confirmation hearing of Hayden.
From the WSJ Opinion Journal-
Mission: Impossible III Mike Hayden or Tom Cruise, does it matter? Tuesday, May 9, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Porter Goss's resignation as CIA Director creates an opportunity for a serious discussion about our intelligence needs, priorities and methods. But the early bidding suggests that the battle to confirm General Michael Hayden will be about none of the above.
The teeth-gnashing about yesterday's nomination of General Hayden to replace Mr. Goss is mostly misplaced. When it comes to the CIA, there is much to worry about, but the four stars on the nominee's shoulders are pretty low on the list. General Hayden has been out of the Pentagon since 1999, first running the National Security Agency and lately as Deputy Director of National Intelligence, meaning essentially at the White House. The idea that he'd be Don Rumsfeld's robot at this remove is preposterous.
Next up from the bottom has to be General Hayden's creation and running of the NSA's warrantless wiretapping of suspected terrorists. For this he deserves not criticism but a national medal. It removes any doubt he recognizes the reality of the current threat. Arlen Specter's preening notwithstanding, Republicans should welcome the chance to let Senate Democrats prove themselves soft on terror in front of the nation.
A serious debate would focus on just how little progress we've made retooling our intelligence capabilities for the war on terror. The White House had been trying for some time to orchestrate a succession at the CIA, the better to consolidate control over an agency that lately has seemed more concerned with undermining the President than chasing down national security threats.
General Hayden is currently Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte's No. 2. And from the perspective of the year-old office of the DNI, it is no doubt an improvement to have your own man sitting atop the CIA. That said, one may still ask whether what is occupying the most productive energies of these central players is the needs of intelligence-gathering or bureaucratic gamesmanship. The latter too often bleeds the former. What still isn't clear is what Mr. Negroponte is trying to accomplish in his post.
In fact, making the new DNI's deputy the head of the CIA comes close to recreating the situation before the creation of the DNI, in which the Director of Central Intelligence oversaw intelligence gathering and his deputy ran things day-to-day at the agency. Rolling back the 2004 reforms is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does raise the question of what, in that case, we've been doing for the last year.
Now, it may be that General Hayden's nomination is the first step in a long-delayed process of focusing the CIA on gathering human intelligence and acquiring assets on the ground in countries where we need them--Iran comes to mind. As the Robb-Silberman report pointed out last year, we still know about as much about the situation in Iran as we did in 2000, which is to say very little. And turning the CIA into a U.S. version of Mi6, the British spying service, would be an improvement over today.
It was also reported yesterday that Stephen Kappes, a 23-year veteran who quit the CIA shortly after Mr. Goss arrived, might be asked to come back and run covert operations as General Hayden's No. 2. Mr. Kappes, our sources tell us, was the man who put together the deal to dismantle Libya's nuclear program, a clear win. It remains to be seen whether he and General Hayden are the team to put the CIA back on track. The larger question is whether that is possible at all.
We love the notion that Porter Goss somehow crippled the CIA's effectiveness by "politicizing" the agency. It looked to us as if the place had given up spying for politicking well before Mr. Goss took over in 2004. The leaks out of Langley the past four years are not infighting as usual; they represent a new and corrosive level of institutional disloyalty. This is a breakdown in discipline of a degree that can be very difficult to reverse once begun. Short of prosecutions, it is hard to see what General Hayden can do to get the dogs back in the kennel. And if that proves true, then let it be said that the CIA's leakers have probably succeeded in blowing up their own agency.
Testifying before the 9/11 Commission, former DCI and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger made a broad point worth holding in mind as the Hayden confirmation unfolds: "Intelligence is highly successful in dealing with routine developments. It is, however, particularly prone to failure at the turning points of history."
We are at such a turning point, obviously. It remains to be seen whether the members of the Senate or the permanent CIA establishment are able to recognize that, or whether the Hayden nomination will strike them as another chance to revisit the political score-settling that has put U.S. intelligence-gathering dangerously behind the curve of history.