Sunday, May 07, 2006

General Mushroomhead

Image of Original Painting, "General Mushroom," Used With Permission of the Artist, Mark Bryan:

Purportedly even some Republicans are set against George's choice for a new CIA chief, Gen. Michael Hayden, (deputy to national intelligence director John Negroponte), following Porter Goss's resignation under pressure on Friday.

General Hayden is the former head of the National Security Agency which conducts eavesdropping operations, & must be confirmed by the Senate if he is nominated.

No wonder Bush likes him so much: "Bush has said Hayden was the one who proposed the domestic eavesdropping program after the September 11 attacks."

Wa-hooo! I can't wait! Just one niggling little question plagues me, however. Is it arrogance or stupidity that keeps George doing these patently goofy goofball stunts with his choices of appointments?

Or does he think that, in this atmosphere, even in the face of private lawsuits challenging the very same programs that Constitutional-legal-scholar-brainiacs Hayden & Bush thought would be a good idea, that Hayden will be able to defend them eloquently & convince us all:

(1) It really has had a prophylactic effect (I haven't heard anything very convincing on that score yet); and

(2) Justifies the drastic degree to which our civil liberties have been so secretly curtailed?

I plan to watch these hearings with popcorn & a six-pack.

Reuters reported that "the Senators voiced reservations on Sunday talk shows about Bush's potential choice...[and] said they would use Hayden's Senate confirmation hearings to learn more about the program of warrantless eavesdropping on Americans' international phone calls and e-mail in pursuit of terrorism suspects."

"Critics say the program threatens civil liberties but Bush defends it as essential to fighting terrorism.

"Some members of Congress also said a general heading the CIA could give the Pentagon too much sway over U.S. intelligence gathering.

"'The bottom line: I do believe he is the wrong person at the wrong place at the wrong time,' said Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, on "Fox News Sunday."

Even Arlen Specter, who really yearns to be able to love Bush again, is starting to see the light. "There is no doubt there's an enormous threat from terrorism, but the president does not have a blank check. Now with Gen. Hayden up for confirmation, this will give us an opportunity to try to find out," Specter said on "Fox News Sunday."

"Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, offered a lukewarm endorsement of Hayden, saying he liked him, but 'I'm not in a position to say that I am for Gen. Hayden and will vote for him.'"

"Roberts, whose committee will hold the confirmation hearings, said on CNN's "Late Edition" that a new CIA head must understand the agency's culture and mission. The spymaster must achieve change 'without that person becoming an enemy of the transition. Now that's apparently in part what happened to Porter Goss, he said.
"Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on ABC's "This Week" program, 'I too have a little bit of concern, frankly, about military personnel running the CIA.' But he said Hayden was well-respected.

"Roberts suggested Hayden could answer some objections by relinquishing his military post and naming deputies with civilian backgrounds.

"Hayden has 'certain strikes against him,' said Rep. Jane Harman of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. She cited his military background and his lack of experience building a clandestine service.

"'And the third thing is that it's not clear he will be independent of this White House,' she said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Harman cited a speech in which Hayden defended the domestic spying program as necessary and said current law was not "optimized" to deal with a September 11-type of terrorism threat.


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