President Bush Wants General Hayden as CIA Director

President Bush nominated General Michael Hayden as CIA Director.

WASHINGTON — President Bush on Monday chose Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to lead the embattled Central Intelligence Agency, re-igniting a debate over the domestic surveillance program that the onetime head of the National Security Agency once ran.

Republican and Democratic critics also questioned the wisdom of putting a military officer in charge of the civilian spy agency.

“Mike Hayden is supremely qualified for this position,” Bush said in the Oval Office, with Hayden at his side. Without mentioning Hayden’s critics or their objections, the president said: “He knows the intelligence community from the ground up.”

General Hayden is a superb choice for several reasons:

  1. He used to run the NSA and the terrorist surveillance program, so he is an expert in these areas.
  2. His nomination will bring to the surface those lawmakers who are for a strong national security, particularly the terrorist surveillance program, and those who are not. With the November elections approaching, the American people will need to know this information.
  3. He is a military man. In spite of the claims from Rep. Pete Hoekstra that this is a problem, many military men have run the civilian CIA. I’m hoping General Hayden can infuse into the CIA two very important things it needs: discipline and loyalty.

Some Republicans are concerned about Hayden’s being in the military, as if that sets some kind of scary precedence. It doesn’t. James Joyner at Outside the Beltway provides a list of all former CIA directors. Upon a cursory review, it’s hard to miss the fact that many, if not most, former CIA directors were military officers.

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