No Generals Need Apply?

I admit that I’ve been surprised by the opposition to Gen. Michael Hayden as a possible successor to Porter Goss as CIA Director. Some of Hayden’s opponents are people I respect, like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra. As described by the Associated Press, the opposition by these Republicans (as opposed to some Democrats) is nothing personal. While thinking highly of Gen. Hayden, they say that a military man shouldn’t head the CIA:

I do believe he’s the wrong person, the wrong place, at the wrong time,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich. “We should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time.”

Hoekstra said on “Fox News Sunday” that having a general in charge of the CIA could create the impression among agents around the world that the agency is under Pentagon control.

Hoekstra said “there’s ongoing tensions between this premiere civilian intelligence agency and the Department of Defense as we speak.”

The sentiment was echoed by Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who said Hayden’s military background would be a “major problem,” and several Democrats who made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said Hayden could leave agents with the impression that the CIA has been “just gobbled up by the Defense Department.”

This seems a little odd to me. When Gen. Colin Powell was named Secretary of State, did anyone say that the State Department was being put “under Pentagon control,” or had been “gobbled up” by the Defense Department? Not that I recall.

I’m glad to hear that there is tension between the Defense Department and the CIA. Given the performance of the CIA in recent years, there should be. The agency badly needs to be cleaned up, and I can’t see any reason why a general isn’t as good a person as any for the job.


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