Hayden Will Follow Negroponte's Orders

The abrupt sacking and replacement of Porter Goss as CIA director one week ago obscured congressional dissatisfaction with the official behind the change.

Ambassador John Negroponte, the first Director of National Intelligence (DNI), effectively made the call that Goss had to go. His replacement by Negroponte’s deputy, Gen. Michael Hayden, may mean further “militarization” of the U.S. intelligence and a return to business as usual at the CIA.

Negroponte wanted Goss out, and the former Republican congressman did not resist ending his short, unhappy tenure at Langley. While getting no help from Negroponte in cleaning up a dysfunctional CIA that seemed aligned against the President, Goss had found himself losing control over both analytical and intelligence-gathering operations in the agency. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, an experienced bureaucratic infighter, was expanding the Pentagon’s creeping intelligence mission.

That was not what the Bush Administration and Congress appeared to have in mind in creating a new intelligence system headed by the DNI in reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was supposed to have restrained the Defense Department under the strong guiding hand of one official. But sacking Goss will not achieve that goal.

In the view of members of Congress responsible intelligence oversight, Negroponte is the problem. When he served as U.S. envoy in Iraq, critics said he was too smooth in protecting himself from criticism. That is the criticism made by congressional overseers of his performance as DNI. They contend that he has been interested mostly in avoiding criticism, not really addressing the shortcomings in the intelligence community.

Goss had the thankless and daunting task of rooting out malcontents in an election year from an agency where criticism of George W. Bush and support for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was rampant. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) urged Goss to clean house, and he tried. But he found an entrenched bureaucracy mobilized against him, as CIA staffers savaged him in leaks to friendly journalists, particularly at the Washington Post. Negroponte was no help to Goss. Although bizarre reasons for Goss’ resignation have been floated on the Internet, sources say Negroponte suggested it was time for him to go.

Congressional discontent with Gen. Hayden to head the CIA, coming not just from Democrats but also from Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) stems partly from unhappiness by House members over the way their old comrade was treated in being booted out. An expert in communications intelligence as director of the National Security Agency, Hayden does not seem suited to correct the CIA’s deficiencies in human intelligence. He is expected to salute and follow orders as Negroponte’s deputy and a military man.

With CIA careerist Stephen Kappes returning as deputy CIA director, the days of shaking up the agency seem at an end. McCain said that he wants to make sure that the return of Kappes, forced out by Goss in November 2004, “does not mean a return to business as usual.” The White House would not welcome an airing of these issues, but McCain wants public hearings on the Hayden and Kappes nominations to disclose what is really happening.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to take up the nominations as soon as next week.