Friday, May 26, 2006

Senate Confirms Hayden

Nothing much to say here, because who ever heard of a job applicant being rejected? Hayden's a useless middle management type who managed to screw up the biggest domestic espionage program in US history - and a military figure placed in charge of a civilian intelligence agency. But so long as he keeps his fly zipped, he'll be allowed to screw up to his heart's content.


Blogger Management said...

Hayden Confirmation Hearings: Post-Game Show

Aaaand that’s it. What did we learn from the open portion of the Hayden confirmation hearing?

Senators with gray hair are boring. Brunettes with neat parts? Classy. Smooth.

Good luck to anyone who’ll try to get actual news from those 8 hours of babbling. Our final thoughts, after the jump.

We had a very vague, nebulous conception of just who the new head of the CIA was before this, and now we have a clearer picture: He’s a complete idiot. He speaks only in irritating sports metaphors and middle-manager corporatese. Hell, he might be slightly less incompetent than Goss, but considering that he took responsibilty for “putting a more human face on the NSA” during his tenure there, we can’t imagine he has any idea what he’s doing. Having been the designer and engineer behind the warrantless wiretapping program, the best defense he could muster for its dubious legality is that THREE LAWYERS TOLD HIM IT WAS OK. (Oh, and his RELATIVES IN LAW SCHOOL said they didn’t see anything wrong with it, either. We have a friend with a bachelor’s in economics, he’s totally available for Bernanke to consult about rate hikes. Though, hell, he can’t be worse than Maria Bartiromo, right? We hear they’re still looking for a treasury secretary…)

CNN leads with the “warrantless wiretapping woulda stopped 9/11” bit, which was neatly disected by Senator Levin during the only five minutes his questioning was relevant (because, you see, the CIA already did know they were livin’ large in Cali, they just didn’t tell the FBI). And the Times goes with the “there wasn’t any news” lede (Hayden told senators he’d be the best darn CIA head ever!). The Post goes with the “media is to blame” angle, along with a giant picture of hottie Lara Logan. (Shieffer calls her “high-maintenance!” Now that’s today’s lead story, people!)

So on to the secret hearing. We’re sure the senators are changing into their pajamas and getting the pillows ready as we speak.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Senate Confirms Hayden as CIA Director

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 26, 2006; 1:57 PM

The U.S. Senate today confirmed Gen. Michael V. Hayden as the new director of the CIA by a large bipartisan majority, sending a career intelligence professional to take over an agency roiled by internal turmoil and the departures of top managers.

The Senate voted 78-15 to confirm Hayden as President Bush's choice to replace Porter J. Goss, who announced May 5 that he was stepping down after 20 months on the job.

Hayden, 61, an Air Force general, headed the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005 before being tapped to serve as the top deputy to the new director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte. At the NSA, he presided over the launching of secret, warrantless eavesdropping and phone call-tracking programs that stirred intense controversy when they were disclosed in newspaper reports. Hayden and other Bush administration officials have defended the programs as vital for efforts to detect and defeat terrorist plots, but critics have charged that they violate Americans' civil liberties and fly in the face of U.S. law governing domestic monitoring of communications.

Hayden was questioned sharply about the programs at his confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee. But he largely won over skeptical Democrats by demonstrating his strong qualifications and pledging to provide unvarnished, nonpartisan intelligence estimates to decision-makers.

The committee voted 12-3 to recommend confirmation by the full Senate. The only "no" votes were cast by Democrats Ron Wyden of Oregon, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin and Evan Bayh of Indiana.

Today, the lone Republican vote against Hayden came from Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said he voted no "as a protest" after having clashed with the administration over the NSA surveillance program. Specter has introduced a bill that would require some judicial review of the monitoring.

Bush commended the Senate for confirming Hayden and cited the "bipartisan majority" supporting him.

"Winning the war on terror requires that America have the best intelligence possible, and his strong leadership will ensure that we do," Bush said in a written statement. "General Hayden is a patriot and a dedicated public servant whose broad experience, dedication and expertise make him the right person to lead the CIA at this critical time. I look forward to working with Ambassador Negroponte, General Hayden and the other leaders of our intelligence community as we continue to address the challenges and threats we face in the 21st century."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said Hayden would "provide steady guidance" at a "critical time for the CIA."

In a statement, he said, "With 20 years of experience in the intelligence community, [Hayden] is the right man for the job. He's committed to strengthening and reforming our intelligence community. He's made clear his interest in an open and honest relationship with Congress and his respect for our oversight role."

The Senate minority leader, Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), also praised Hayden, even as he blasted the Bush's administration's "incompetence," which he said has left the intelligence community in "disarray."

Reid said in a lengthy statement that he hopes Hayden "will provide the CIA the kind of nonpartisan leadership it has sorely lacked for the past several years." He said he also hopes the nomination "signifies that the Bush administration has recognized, finally, that professionals, not partisans, should be put in charge of national security." The comment was an indirect swipe at Goss, 67, who served as a Republican congressman from Florida for nearly 16 years before Bush nominated him as CIA director in 2004. Goss, who chaired the House Intelligence Committee for seven years until his nomination, came under criticism for installing aides at the CIA who were regarded as politically partisan.

Citing Hayden's "impeccable credentials" as an intelligence professional, Reid said in his statement that the general had convinced him that he "understands and respects the role of Congress in national security matters." The Senate's top Democrat said Hayden faces three major challenges: ending the "politicization" of intelligence, being open to congressional oversight and "fixing our strategy" in the war on terrorism.

"After more than four years of the war on terror, Osama bin Laden remains at large and al-Qaeda and other radical fundamentalist terrorist organizations pose a grave threat to our security," Reid said. "Terrorist attacks have increased, not decreased, on this administration's watch."

Referring to Iran and North Korea, Reid said that "two of the three so-called Axes of Evil are more dangerous today than they were when President Bush first uttered that memorable phrase." He added that the third, Iraq, "is on the verge of becoming what it was not before the war -- a haven and launching pad for international terrorists. And America's standing in the world has reached record lows in critical regions of the world."

Saying it was a "travesty" that bin Laden is still on the loose nearly five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Reid called on Hayden to redouble efforts to go after top terrorist targets and build a "global human intelligence capability" that will help the United States "win the battle of ideas going on within the Islamic world."

6:04 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Hayden Hijinks

If there actually was an opposition party in Washington, the nomination of Air Force General Michael Hayden to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency would have been doomed from the start.

Hayden's involvement as head of the National Security Agency with the illegal warrantless wiretapping program initiated by the Bush administration, his role in the secret accumulation of the phone records of tens of millions of Americans for surveillance purposes, his unapologetic rejection of the rule of law and his limited acquaintance with the Constitution would surely have stalled his nomination. And the fact that a member of the military should not head the civilian intelligence agency that is charged with provided unbiased information to elected officials – as opposed to the Pentagon line – would have finished Hayden off.

In the face of a united Democratic opposition, a sufficient number of Senate Republicans, ill at ease with the administration's reckless approach and increasingly concerned about the damage President Bush and his aides are doing to their party's credibility and political prospects, would have abandoned Hayden.

Unfortunately, there is no opposition party in Washington.

There is, instead, a Democratic Party that, when push comes to shove regularly allows itself to be shoved.

So it come as little surprise that Hayden's nomination has sailed through the Senate, winning approval Friday by a 78-15 vote. Most Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, joined the vast majority of Republicans in rubberstamping George W. Bush's poke-in-the-eye pick to head the CIA.

The die was cast when the Hayden nomination was considered by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Four Democrats who should know better – California's Dianne Feinstein, West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller, Michigan's Carl Levin and Maryland's Barbara Mikulski -- voted with the united Republican majority to approve the appointment. Then, the Senate Armed Committee casually voted to reappoint Hayden as a four-star general, a move that effectively signaled surrender in the debate over whether the CIA should be headed by a military man.

In this disappointing scenario, it should be noted that a handful of Democrats did attempt to check and balance a lawless president by refusing to support his equally lawless nominee. Voting against Hayden's nomination were Democrats Evan Bayh of Indiana, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Hillary Clinton of New York, Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Dick Durbin and Barack Obama of Illinois, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Intriguingly, the dissident Democrats were joined in their opposition to Hayden by Senate Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, who has been increasingly restive regarding the administration's assault on basic freedoms.

Predictably, the Senate's most diligent critic of the administration's reckless disregard for the rule of law was the most outspoken objector to Hayden's nomination.

"I voted against the nomination of General Michael Hayden to be Director of the CIA because I am not convinced that the nominee respects the rule of law and Congress's oversight responsibilities," explained Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, who bluntly declared that, "as Director of the NSA, General Hayden directed an illegal program that put Americans on American soil under surveillance without the legally required approval of a judge."

"Our country needs a CIA Director who is committed to fighting terrorism aggressively without breaking the law or infringing on the rights of Americans. General Hayden's role in implementing and publicly defending the warrantless surveillance program does not give me confidence that he is capable of fulfilling this important responsibility," explained Feingold, who cast one of the three dissenting votes when the Hayden nomination was considered by the intelligence committee.

Noting that Hayden had failed in his testimony before the Intelligence Committee to express any reservations about the administration past misdeeds, that the general had evidenced little respect for congressional oversight and that he gave misleading testimony to the Intelligence Committee in 2002, Feingold concluded that, "The stakes are high. Al Qaeda and its affiliates seek to destroy us. We must fight back and we must join this fight together, as a nation. But when Administration officials ignore the law and ignore the other branches of government, it distracts us from fighting our enemies. I am disappointed that the President decided to make such a controversial nomination at this time. While I defer to Presidents in considering nominations to positions in the executive branch, I cannot vote for a nominee whose conduct raises such troubling questions about his adherence to the rule of law."

If there actually was an opposition party in Washington, Feingold's position would be its official stance. Instead, the man who has fought a lonely battle to censure the president for initiating and maintaining an illegal domestic surveillance program, is still dismissed by most of his fellow Democrats as too aggressive, too principled, too committed to the Constitution. So it goes, as the majority of Feingold's Democratic colleagues continue to promote the nominations and the policies of a failed president who polls tell us now has the approval of less than one-third of Americans.

8:00 PM  

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