Experts See a Strategy Behind CIA Shuffle
By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 9, 2006; Page A09
Gen. Michael V. Hayden isn’t the first active-duty military officer tapped to lead the CIA — he is in fact the fifth — but many intelligence experts and officers have bemoaned the idea of a general leading the agency at a time when the Pentagon is expanding its ability to engage in global spying and man-hunting, traditional realms of the CIA.
Despite such qualms, intelligence specialists say Hayden’s appointment may turn out to be a clever move by intelligence czar John D. Negroponte to help him assert authority over Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his burgeoning intelligence bureaucracy. Negroponte, who by law oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, has expressed frustration that he has not made more progress in managing the agencies under the Defense Department’s jurisdiction.
Negroponte was mindful of the issue yesterday as Hayden was officially nominated. "To those who raise a question about the fact that Mike Hayden wears the uniform," Negroponte said in announcing his nomination, "I think they can also be assured that Mike Hayden is a very, very independent-minded person, blunt-spoken. . . . I don’t think [he] will have any difficulty whatsoever staking out positions that are independent."
The intelligence overhaul that installed Negroponte as the first director of national intelligence also assigned the CIA the role of managing all "human intelligence" — or spying — including the collection done by the Defense Department, which many experts believe is trying to break out on its own in this arena.
"The concern about Hayden is not really about Hayden, it’s about Rumsfeld and Cheney," said one former senior intelligence officer, referring to Vice President Cheney’s strained relationship with the CIA and allegations that he used Pentagon-gathered information on Iraq’s weapons because it comported with his personal view on Iraq.
"Hayden seems to be one of those guys who will, without hesitation, stand up to anyone with whom he disagrees," said Mackubin T. Owens, professor of national security studies at the Naval War College. "He’s out of Rumsfeld’s reach."
The CIA establishment views the encroachment of the Pentagon into such sensitive areas as covert operations and human intelligence as a misguided effort that does not recognize the inherent difficulties in understanding, much less penetrating, terrorist networks.
"If the military’s calling the shots, you’re not going to get the focus on Manchester, England [where the London bombers came from], or the Montreal axis," a reference to the crossroads for a group of al-Qaeda figures, the former intelligence official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the upcoming debate on Hayden’s nomination.
But the military’s frustration with the CIA — including not having enough terrorist targets identified for attack in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere — is at least in part behind Rumsfeld’s expansion of military intelligence capabilities. Rumsfeld has moved hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of troops into clandestine intelligence collection and analysis. With little public discussion and a wall of secrecy, the military is poised to launch its own intelligence-gathering and man-hunting operations independent of the CIA or other authorities.
"When you’re not getting what you want, the bureaucratic response is to create your own [bureaucracy], not because you want different answers, but because you want answers," said Owens.
Managed by Army Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, a legendary special operations officer who now holds the title of deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and warfighting support, the Pentagon is demanding that the CIA share its most sensitive databases, that small teams of undercover soldiers be allowed to secretly collect information in friendly countries, and that clandestine teams of military man-hunters be allowed to sneak into countries with which the United States is not at war to kill or capture terrorism suspects.
But Hayden, an Air Force four-star general, has already taken steps and positions aimed at enhancing the CIA’s leadership in human intelligence.
Although he comes from the world of high-tech signals intelligence, Hayden was an early proponent of scaling back the CIA’s responsibilities so it could concentrate on human intelligence. As Negroponte’s deputy, he helped reshape the CIA’s directorate of operations into the National Clandestine Service, an effort that many CIA officers applauded.
Hayden’s expected appointment of Stephen R. Kappes for a leadership role was seen as another indication that Negroponte and Hayden believe that experienced spies are the key to strengthening the CIA’s ability to track down terrorists and go after other difficult targets. Kappes headed the CIA’s operations branch until he resigned in a dispute with then-Director Porter J. Goss’s chief of staff.
Former and current intelligence officers say Goss never had a strategic plan for improving spying on terrorist networks. Kappes, on the other hand, had slowly begun to put his ideas, gained through 23 years of experience around the world, into action. Part of that plan called for deepening ties with foreign intelligence services.
As director of the National Security Agency, Hayden sought to enhance relations with foreign intelligence services.
The CIA, with the help of its foreign partners, has been responsible for capturing or killing nearly all the key al-Qaeda figures since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.