May 18, 2006

Hayden On the Hot Seat

Hatched by Dafydd

...And a pair of astonishing admissions by Reuters!

The confirmation hearing of Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency appears to be going swimmingly. Only one Democrat was nakedly hostile to Hayden (and no Republicans), if Reuters can be believed: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The following rather childish exchange ensued:

Wyden said Hayden had not kept Congress fully informed of the eavesdropping program and had made misleading statements in previous appearances before Congress.

"General, having evaluated your words, I now have a difficult time with your credibility," Wyden said.

"So with all due respect, general, I can't tell now if you've simply said one thing and done another, or whether you have just parsed your words like a lawyer to intentionally mislead the public," Wyden said.

Hm... let's see if we can't suss this one out: Hayden had been the head of the ultra, ultra-secret National Security Agency. He was often asked in open session detailed questions about highly, highly classified programs. He was asked by senators who know that in many cases, failure to respond is, in fact, a response.

So in some cases, he deflected those questions. He failed to respond without appearing to fail to respond.

And Sen. Wyden is angry that Hayden was not more forthcoming. About highly classified programs. In open session. (Had Wyden been talking about misleading answers in closed-door session, I'm pretty sure he would have said so, since that would make his case stronger. Unless he's just an idiot... in which case, why are we even spending this much time on him?)

Hayden answered with aplomb and a very subtle slap-down:

Hayden responded: "Well, senator, you're going to have to make a judgment on my character ... I was as full and open as I possibly could be." [Showing admirable restrain in not adding, "given the fact that the programs were classified and we were in open session, you nitwit!" -- the Mgt.]

I think Sen. Wyden has been spending too much time hanging around with his pals, Sen. Jay "Letter-Stasher" Rockefeller (rankling member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) and Sen. Patrick "Leaky" Leahy (erstwhile member).

But the biggest news so far are two stunning admissions that Reuters made in a single sentence in this article:

Under the program, the NSA monitors international telephone calls and e-mails to or from suspected terrorists without first obtaining a court order.

This may mark the very first time that any antique media source has acknowledged that this is not domestic spying! That the targets were international calls and e-mails. Oops....

And of course, the other, punctuational admission in that same sentence is equally startling. It is so blatant, that I'm sure I needn't belabor the obvious by pointing it out. (All right, I suppose I'll spill the beans out of the bag in the "slither on" entry below.)

The only comment quoted from Hayden that worries me is this one:

Responding to a question from Levin, Hayden said he had been uncomfortable with some of the prewar analysis coming from the Pentagon suggesting there was a link between al Qaeda and then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

I consider that evidence to be overwhelming and growing more so with every week's worth of translated documents, many of which show a much deeper al-Qaeda/Iraq connection that we ever realized. Thus, if Hayden is saying that now, today, he doesn't see any connection... well, that would be pretty bad.

But the way this is phrased, we don't even know what the question was that provoked this response; nor do we know exactly what Hayden said. The question may have specifically been couched in the timeframe of 2002, and Hayden may have been saying that at that time, he was uncomfortable with that claim.

The New York Times article fleshes this exchange out a bit:

Senator Levin asked General Hayden whether he had disagreed with Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, who established an intelligence-analysis cell within his office. The senator recalled that Mr. Feith's unit suggested a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and whether the general was "comfortable with Mr. Feith's office approach to intelligence analysis."

"No, sir, I wasn't," the nominee replied. "And I wasn't aware of a lot of the activity going on, you know, when it was contemporaneous with running up to the war. No, sir I wasn't comfortable."

That makes me a little less worried; in the Times' version, the question Hayden answered was whether he was comfortable with the way Feith ran his Pentagon intelligence-analysis office... not specifically whether Hayden was comfortable with the evidence of an Iraq/al-Qaeda link. (Is it possible that Reuters "parsed [its] words like a lawyer to intentionally mislead the public?")

Here are two oblique reference to the program to boot the leakers out of the CIA that I found only in the Times' account:

He defended the retiring C.I.A. director, Porter J. Goss, who was forced out after conflicts with John D. Negroponte, the national intelligence director whom General Hayden has been serving as deputy. "As director, Porter fostered a process of transformation that the agency must continue in the coming years," the general said....

The general's portrait of the C.I.A. he would like to preside over seemed to be one of esprit, imagination and discretion. "C.I.A. needs to get out of the news, as source or subject, and focus on protecting the American people by acquiring secrets and providing high-quality, all-source analysis," he said.

I hope this means that the campaign against the CIA leakers will continue -- and hopefully, with less ruth. (I mean more ruthlessly.)

All in all, though -- unless the Democrats have some bombshell and are showing out-of-character restraint in telling the press about it -- I think Hayden will have little trouble during these hearings, and his nomination will easily be confirmed by the full Senate. And it should be.

Oh yes, about that "other admission" from Reuters. Here is a hint: the other admission in this sentence....

Under the program, the NSA monitors international telephone calls and e-mails to or from suspected terrorists without first obtaining a court order.

...involves a missing set of "scare quotes" around one particular word.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 18, 2006, at the time of 2:04 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing:


The following hissed in response by: tkubiak

I am just astonished that this august body isn't getting any blood in their Congressional pillaging efforts. I’ve checked my military sources and General Hayden is the real thing. For Senator Feinstein to suggest he ought to retire and then be appointed the Director of the CIA is just another example of the misdirected thinking of Congress. Sure he will get his military retired pay but Feinstein wants him to get a civilian salary on top of that. These Congress people (I refrained from calling them idiots) need to read the Constitution of the United States for openers. In it they are granted certain powers which they have failed to exercise for the good of the people which is mentioned in the Preamble of that same document. A retired Colonel, a patriot and fed up with the Congress of the United States

The above hissed in response by: tkubiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 2:59 PM

The following hissed in response by: Papa Ray

Ref. your quiz, I woulld suspect that the quote marks are missing from "suspected". But what is interesting to me is that they only used the word secret one time, but they made up for it by stuck in evesdropping in the headline and sprinkled thru-out the article.

I think Hayden will fly through and make a good honcho. But, it will still be years and years before the CIA is anywhere near it's potential or near the top of the Intel services in the world.

Papa Ray

The above hissed in response by: Papa Ray [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 6:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

If the Dems had a bombshell. we'd have already have heard it go off. A very good first day.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 6:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Papa Ray:

Huh, I thought folks would notice right away: it's Reuters, remember? They left the scare quotes off the word "terrorist!"


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 12:30 AM

The following hissed in response by: Kuni

I hate to burst your bubble on those “translated documents” you refer to; but so far they all seem to indicate that Saddam had no ties/links.

One document has Saddam asking his security forces to be on the lookout for Zarqawi; so they could arrest him.

Another has the Fedayeen looking into rumors Iraqi’s were going to Afghanistan to help the Taliban. If there were links, Saddam would have sent them, not been worried about people taking off on their own.

The above hissed in response by: Kuni [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 9:54 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved