President George W. Bush will name Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to lead the embattled CIA on Monday despite criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike about a military officer taking over the helm of the civilian spy agency.
"He'll be reporting to the president of the United States, not Don Rumsfeld," the secretary of defense, said National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Other military officers have led the CIA, Hadley said. "So the precedents are clear."
Hayden will be nominated to replace Porter Goss, a former congressman, who resigned under pressure Friday.
To balance the CIA between military and civilian leadership, the White House plans to move aside the agency's No. 2 official, Vice Admiral Albert Calland III, who took over as deputy director less than a year ago, two senior administration officials said. Other personnel changes also are likely, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the changes are not ready to announce.
Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was concerned that Hayden's nomination would detract from the real issue of intelligence reform.
"The debate in the Senate may end up being about the terrorist surveillance program and not about the future of the CIA or the intelligence community, which is exactly where the debate needs to be," Hoekstra said on CBS television's "The Early Show."
"This is about whether we still have alignment and agreement between the executive branch and Congress as to where intelligence reform needs to go," he said.
Hadley made the rounds of morning television shows to defend Hayden's selection. "We think the issue is getting the best man for the job and the president has determined that Mike Hayden is the best man for the job," Hadley told The Associated Press.
White House counselor Dan Bartlett said Hayden would be the fifth CIA chief in uniform. "He has been viewed as a non-conformist and an independent thinker," Bartlett said.
Hadley said that any nominee to lead the CIA would face questions about the controversial domestic surveillance program by the National Security Agency and that Hayden, the former director of the agency, was the best man to answer those questions.
If Hayden were confirmed, military officers would run all the major spy agencies, from the ultra-secret National Security Agency to the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said he would use a Hayden nomination to raise questions about the legality of the program and did not rule out holding it up until he gets answers. "I'm not going to draw any lines in the sand until I see how the facts evolve," Specter said on Fox.
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, defended Hayden.
"In all due respect to my colleagues, and I obviously respect their views, General Hayden is really more of an intelligence person than he is an Air Force officer," McCain said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "I think that we should also remember that there had been other former military people who have been directors of the CIA."
Retired Adm. Stansfield Turner, who headed the CIA during the Carter administration, said he did not think Hayden was a good choice.
"I happen to think not because I happen to think the wiretapping was illegal and we need to clarify that for the whole American public, and the debate of his nomination will do that, I believe," Turner said on CBS' "The Early Show."