Gen. Michael V. Hayden, President Bush’s nominee to become the new CIA director, vowed today to promote a “risk-taking” culture at the agency and to improve the sharing of intelligence, but he complained that the CIA has become too much of a political football and denounced the “endless picking apart” of its operations in the news media.
Appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee for his confirmation hearing, Hayden outlined his vision for the CIA in the face of skepticism from Democrats alarmed by communications surveillance programs at the National Security Agency during his tenure as director there. Hayden, 61, an Air Force general, headed the NSA from 1999 to 2005, before becoming deputy director of national intelligence under the nation’s new intelligence chief, John D. Negroponte.
“Respectfully, senators, I believe that the American intelligence business has too much become the football in American political discourse,” Hayden told the committee in his opening statement. He said the intelligence community and the CIA in recent years “have taken an inordinate number of hits—some of them fair, many of them not.”