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Senate Should Confirm Hayden

Senate Should Confirm Hayden

Op-Ed, Chicago Tribune

May 25, 2006

Authors: Bob Graham, Former Senior Research Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 2005-2006, Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

 

As a former Democratic senator who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a former assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration, we strongly support the confirmation of Gen. Michael Hayden to be the director of the CIA. If confirmed, we believe he will be a great, potentially even legendary leader of an organization desperately in need of continuity of effective leadership.

Five considerations lead us to this judgment:

- First, Hayden is a world-class intelligence professional. Over three decades inside the community, he rose through the system from success to success. Colleagues respect him as a steady, top-flight performer in every job he has held. Internationally, intelligence professionals regard him as one of the best of the best.

On this dimension, Hayden's professionalism could not be more required, nor could it be more relevant for the construction of a new, coordinated multiagency national intelligence community, and for the restoration of American relationships with allied intelligence services.

- Second, Hayden is a proven intelligence manager. In the language of Washington today, he is a "transformational leader." Compare Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's declarations about transformationwith the extraordinary changes Hayden led as the director of the National Intelligence Agency. In restoring a sense of pride and confidence among professionals, Hayden not only talks the talk, but, more important, walks the walk.

- Third, Hayden has repeatedly demonstrated an inner core of integrity and courage in "speaking truth to power." One of us, as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee when Congress was considering reform of the intelligence agencies in 2004, saw the general up-close and personal as he repeatedly clashed with, and prevailed over, Rumsfeld's efforts to assert more con-trol.

- Fourth, on the question of whether the NSA engaged in illegal domestic spying, because we do not have relevant classified facts, we are unable to offer a judgment. From what we do know, we question the legality and utility of the program. Our best understanding, however, is that whatever Hayden and the NSA did was undertaken at the direction of President Bush. It also appears that the program was briefed to the leadership of both houses of Congress and the intelligence committees consistent with procedures established by former President Jimmy Carter and followed by Democratic and Republican presidents thereafter. Unless Hayden or the NSA are charged with illegal actions beyond that presidential mandate, the person who should be held accountable is President Bush, not Gen. Hayden.

- Fifth, the CIA has had three directors in the last three years. It sorely needs a leader who will be there long enough to have a real impact. Hayden was appointed director of the NSA by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and kept in that job by Bush. By outstanding performance, he has earned the confidence of presidents of both political parties. Our bet is that, if confirmed, he will be asked to continue by the next president. We believe Hayden is the right man at the right time for what will surely be a thankless, daunting and demanding assignment.

Bob Graham served in the U.S. Senate from 1987 to 2005 and chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee. Graham Allison was assistant secretary of defense in the first term of the Clinton administration. They are colleagues at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

 

For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.

For Academic Citation:

Graham, Bob and Graham Allison. "Senate Should Confirm Hayden." Chicago Tribune, May 25, 2006.

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