May 06 2006

General Hayden To Take Over CIA

Published by at 11:56 am under All General Discussions

The news that Lt. General Hayden is likely to take over for the RETIRING Porter Goss will fuel the weekend news shows. I watched Moron Laura O’Donell on Hardball last night claim, as fact, Goss was fired. For those who need a refresher on the symptons of BDS, the good Dr. Sanity has a great post up on the syndrome’s ability to develop delusions and fantasies. O’Donnell and her out of the loop guests eventually got around to demonstrating the idea of being fired was all speculation. Well, it was worse than speculation. Speculation requires some basis in reality with some reasonable probability.

As commenters and bloggers here and elsewhere have noted, Bush being at his side speaks volumes. As does the selection of General Hayden. If Bush was attempting to diffuse the situation, was attempting to retreat – Hayden wouldn’t be the nominee! More on this in a bit.

It is also crystal clear this was not a thunderbolt from the blue for Bush – he had his selection in hand and pre-vetted with DNI Negroponte, the key Cabinet members and key Republican leaders in Congress. I am always shocked at how little reporters know about the Federal Government even after years of reporting on it. Anyone who thinks this was a surprise to anyone BUT the media is just not paying attention. You don’t have the replacement in hand if this a schock. It takes weeks to get candidates vetted.
2 years ago Porter Goss stepped down as Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence – a position that dictates to the Director of CIA and controls the CIA’s budget and scope – to weather a confirmation process which is brutal and would be in front of the very Representatives Goss led (and not always pleasantly I would wager). Why? Why go through confirmation hell to reduce you power and influence in DC? This kind of move is a classic one for someone heading to retirement, but doing one last mission or job for the country on the way out. (Note: this post get’s long after the fold!)

The speed and selection of Hayden reinforces this speculation (because only a few people know for sure). Hayden ran the NSA program during the time covered in the highly error ridden FISA-NSA leak from the NY Times last fall. The only thing the NY Times got correct was all the classified details they exposed. They screwed up every other detail because it is clear no changes were made to what NSA was collecting or how they selected their targets. As the posts in the above link demonstrate, what changed was the passing of leads to people in the US from NSA surveillance to the FBI, which investigated them and took the critical ones to FISA for FISA warrants (so they could be monitored here in the US). The NY Times’ story was based on the premise NSA went around FISA. The truth is FISA judges reacted to the fact NSA leads were being used to identify terrorists for their warrants. Instead of bypassing FISA, the NSA data had, in the words of the FISA judges who objected and resigned, ‘tainted’ the FISA warrants. Leave it to the NY Times to get everything wrong about the scandal, but accurately leak the intelligence information to tip off the terrorists.

So Hayden knows this and has commented on this many times. The posts in my FISA-NSA Category reference Hayden’s comments confirming what the FISA judges themselves have said about the relationship. So why pick Hayden, knowin the confirmation hearing is going to go directly to the heart of the NSA-FISA kerfluffle? Can Bush be baiting the antique media and gossipy Senate Democrats to expose themselves?

Well let’s look at Time’s latest coverage – recalling Time is a major player in the Libby-Plame case and has a vested interest in this matter of leaks generally:

President George W. Bush stunned Washington on Friday by accepting the resignation of CIA Director Porter J. Goss, and Republican sources told TIME that the White House plans to name his replacement on Monday: Air Force General Michael V. Hayden, who as Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence has been a visible and aggressive defender of the administration’s controversial eavesdropping program. His nomination is sure to reignite the battle over the program on Capitol Hill, where one House Democrat promises “a partisan food fight” during the confirmation process.

Emaphasis mine. Boy. Got them hook, line and sinker already! That was the first paragraph. The Times thankfully reports on how this is NOT a surprise event:

The President frequently extends a formal offer immediately before an announcement, to cut down on leaks and allow for last-minute developments.

So this offer is the formal one, not the informal ones that were polished over the last month, which also include how to replace Hayden at DNI. And is anyone noticing the fact a Lt. General whose career is steeped in the DoD intelligence community is now heading the CIA? Time is sort of funny. On one side they say Washington was stunned when it was really just the press corpse. And then they report on how this had been in the works for a while:

A senior administration official said Negroponte, with the blessing of the White House, began talking with Goss about leaving a couple of weeks ago. “The creation of the DNI has been a transformational and very tumultuous time for the intelligence community and particularly the CIA,” the senior administration official said. “When you ask somebody to do so much transformational change, often it makes sense to let somebody then take the agency forward from there.”

Well, that pretty much confirms Mac Rangers comments. Note that this article is by Massimo Calabresi of Time who is embroiled in the Plame Game to some degree. Dana Priest of the Washington Post couldn’t help but poke her head out as well. Dana illustrates what a great job Goss has done:

Porter J. Goss was brought into the CIA to quell what the White House viewed as a partisan insurgency against the administration and to re-energize a spy service that failed to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks or accurately assess Iraq’s weapons capability.

But as he walked out the glass doors of Langley headquarters yesterday, Goss left behind an agency that current and former intelligence officials say is weaker operationally, with a workforce demoralized by an exodus of senior officers and by uncertainty over its role in fighting terrorism and other intelligence priorities, said current and former intelligence officials.

Goss walked in to shut down a mutiny (aka, a partisan insurgency) and left after the insurgents were shown the door. This rightfully worried the remaining staff (and irritated Priest who must have lost a wealth of unnamed sources). One thing Dana is good for is exposing the rogue insurgents in the government as she keeps trying to point to the opposition. Note this backstabbing comment from one John 0. Brennan in her piece:

Within headquarters, “he never bonded with the workforce,” said John O. Brennan, a former senior CIA official and interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center until last July.

“Now there’s a decline in morale, its capability has not been optimized and there’s a hemorrhaging of very good officers,” Brennan said. “Turf battles continue” with other parts of the recently reorganized U.S. intelligence community “because there’s a lack of clarity and he had no vision or strategy about the CIA’s future.” Brennan added: “Porter’s a dedicated public servant. He was ill-suited for the job.”

Sounds like whining because the agencies Old Dogs got caught spending more time trying to take down Bush than the Taliban and Al Qaeda. So who is John O. Brennan?

Monday, December 12, 2005; Page D08

Position : President and chief executive, the Analysis Corp. (TAC), a Fairfax company that provides analysis and technology support to the federal government’s counterterrorism efforts. TAC is a subsidiary of SFA Inc. of Crofton.

Career Highlights : Interim director, National Counterterrorism Center; director, Terrorist Threat Integration Center; deputy executive director, CIA; chief of staff to director of central intelligence, CIA; chief of station, Middle East, CIA; executive assistant to the deputy director of central intelligence, CIA; deputy director, office of Near Eastern and South Asian analysis, CIA; daily intelligence briefer at the White House, CIA; deputy division chief, Office of Near Eastern and South Asian analysis, CIA; chief of analysis, DCI’s counterterrorism center, CIA; Middle East specialist and terrorism analyst, directorate of intelligence, CIA; political officer, U.S. Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Department of State; and career trainee, directorate of operations, CIA.

OK, so he sounds a little jealous he was not selected. Or is he in the cabal with Wilson, Plame, Grossman and McCarthy? Well, he testified to the 9-11 commission and seemed to want the CIA to retain its central role. So I would guess he is not happy with how things are going. But he has not been happy for a while, and has apparently been a leaker to the press for a while. Not only Dana Priest, but other times as well. From March 1, 2004:

John O. Brennan, a 23-year veteran of the CIA and a Middle East expert, has not had an easy time since March 2003, when he was appointed director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

Brennan, a former chief of staff to CIA Director George Tenet, has held a number of senior analyst positions at the agency, including assignments in the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis. Brennan directed analysis at the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center during the first Gulf War and was the White House daily intelligence briefer in 1994 and 1995.

More here from his new company TAC:

Prior to joining TAC, Mr. Brennan had a distinguished 25-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency, serving in a variety of senior positions throughout the Intelligence Community. His last assignment was (interim) Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Mr. Brennan was appointed to that position, with the approval of the President, by the Director of Central Intelligence in October 2004. He served as head of the NCTC until August 2005. Mr. Brennan also served as the Director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC) from 12 March 2003 until 6 December 2004. When the NCTC was formally launched in December 2004, all functions and responsibilities of the TTIC were transferred to the NCTC.

Mr. Brennan began his career as an intelligence officer in 1980 with the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations as a Career Trainee. After joining the Directorate of Intelligence in 1981, he served with the Department of State as a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from 1982 to 1984. From 1984 to 1989, he served in a variety of analytic assignments in the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis in the Directorate of Intelligence. Mr. Brennan was in charge of terrorism analysis in the DCI’s Counterterrorist Center between 1990 and 1992, including during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After a management position in the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis, Mr. Brennan served as the CIA’s daily intelligence briefer at the White House in 1994 and 1995. Mr. Brennan was the Executive Assistant to then-DDCI George Tenet from 1995 to 1996, and he served as Chief of Station in a major Middle East capital from 1996 to 1999. Mr. Brennan served as DCI Tenet’s Chief of Staff from 1999 to 2001 and as Deputy Executive Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from March 2001 to March 2003.

Emphasis mine. I cannot help but note he knew people in the State Department from his stint in the mid 1980’s. He also was near the Plame, Wilson, Grossman nexus in the lead up to the first Gulf War. And he held the same kind of position (Chief of Station) as Wilson and Grossman did, in the same region – though ten years later. And he has twins – which means they could very well know the Plame’s through the DC and NOVA area’s support organizations for parents of multiples. Lots more here from Brennan himself, including these two headlines:

John Brennan Named President and CEO of TAC
Former NCTC Head Takes over at TAC

TAC Wins $2.3 Million Defense Intelligence Agency Contract for Integration of Department of Defense Data to the Terrorist Watchlist

Interesting. So I wonder what kind of ties Dana Priest has with this guy to get him on the record like this? I mean, this is like painting a red target on your back for attention. I have no clue whether John O. Brennan is anything more than someone who wanted to speak out. All the links above are circumstantial. He worked for Tenet as his number two. He is on record as not being happy about the direction of the restructuring (which means he is identical to everyone else because restructurings are never perfect and never satisfy ANYONE).

Then Dana brings in another CIA malcontent – Gary Bentsen. Bentsen’s claim to fame seems to be his attempts to blame the DoD on missing Bin Laden in Tora Bora. No bad blood between the DoD and CIA there! Priest seems to be a magnet for agenda driven whiners. Check this out:

Less than two months after Goss took over, the much-respected deputy director of operations, Stephen R. Kappes, and his deputy, Michael Sulick, resigned in protest over a demand by Goss’s chief of staff, Patrick Murray, that Kappes fire Sulick for criticizing Murray.

Kappes “was the guy who a generation of us wanted to see as the DDO [operations chief]. Kappes’s leaving was a painful thing,” Berntsen said. “It made it difficult for [Goss] within the clandestine service.

The poor, poor workers at CIA did not get to pick their head of the CIA – a constitutional perogative of the President of the United States! Did these whiners sign a pledge to uphold the laws and constitution? Of course they did! Did Dana Priest point out these whining little crybabies would be in violation of that oath if they took any ‘insurgent’ action based on the fact they did not like Bush’s selection? In my mind these folks should have been dumped if that is where their priorities lie.

This post is too long already and I need to do some weekend work. But it is clear to me there is a large enough group of ego maniacs who fled or are fleeing the CIA like the rats they are. I am so sorry to hear they did not like the policies and plans of the elected leaders – but so sad too bad. What I once thought might be a serious issue is clearly turning into a bunch of spoiled long timers who cannot believe all their screw ups finally caught up with them.

Addendum: Make sure to check out Rick Moran’s post and The Retired Spook’s thoughts as well (here and here). Do note in the Moran piece a possible connection between Brennan and malcontent Pillar, and leaks to the NY Times:

That document was also leaked to the New York Times earlier this month, and on Monday columnist Robert Novak reported that it had been prepared at the direction of Mr. Pillar, the National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia.

I have said it before. The only people crazy enough to raise their profiles now are the ones so desperate they have decided to try and build a faux image before some seriously bad news breaks on them.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “General Hayden To Take Over CIA”

  1. Snapple says:

    Dear AJ–

    What bad news do you have in mind when you write:

    “The only people crazy enough to raise their profiles now are the ones so desperate they have decided to try and build a faux image before some seriously bad news breaks on them. “

  2. AJStrata says:

    If I was in the CIA and knew major investigations were breaking, I would do one of two things right now. Stay low and quiet because I’m cool and there are all sorts of leadership positions opening up, or get out and create the image I am some underground, underdog hero! The latter of course being what someone would do if they felt their actions were grist for some serious charges.