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White House Moves to Quell Concerns About CIA Nominee

By Elisabeth Bumiller 
and Carl Hulse
THE NEW YORK TIMES


WASHINGTON

The White House moved forcefully on Monday to quell opposition from Republicans on Capitol Hill over the president’s selection of a military officer, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In announcing his choice from the Oval Office, Bush declared that Hayden, who wore his Air Force uniform for the occasion, had “vast experience” and was “the right man to lead the CIA at this critical moment in our nation’s history.” Porter J. Goss, the current CIA director, was forced out of the position on Friday.

Within 90 minutes of Bush’s announcement, John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence and Hayden’s immediate superior, told reporters in an unusual White House briefing that Hayden would be independent of the Pentagon and that the Navy admiral who was Goss’ deputy would be moving aside.

Negroponte said that a civilian, Stephen R. Kappes, was under serious consideration for the deputy spot. Kappes, who is highly regarded by CIA officials, left the agency in 2004 after clashing with Goss.

In another sign that the White House was trying to make the change in CIA leadership politically palatable to Congress, the agency’s No. 3 official, Kyle Foggo, told colleagues in an e-mail message on Monday that he, too, was stepping down.

Foggo, a longtime administrative officer at the agency, had been promoted by Goss.

Foggo’s conduct has come under scrutiny by the agency’s inspector general and, more recently, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, because of his friendship with a defense contractor implicated in the bribery of former Rep. Randy Cunningham. Cunningham was sentenced in March to more than eight years in prison for taking more than $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors.

White House officials said they wanted to have confirmation hearings before the Senate Intelligence Committee completed and Hayden confirmed before Goss leaves his post on May 26. But Sen. Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who is chairman of the intelligence committee, said only that he hoped to have the hearings begin before May 26, the last scheduled day of the congressional session before a weeklong recess following Memorial Day.

“I want to do it right, I want to be thorough,” Roberts said.

White House officials, who in the past have relished fights with Democrats over national security and said they welcomed the coming confrontation over Hayden, began their offensive early Monday, well before Bush’s 9:30 a.m. announcement. Their message was that Hayden would not be beholden to the military or Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who has aggressively sought to expand the Pentagon’s role in intelligence gathering.

“Make no mistake, when he steps in as head of the Central Intelligence Agency, he will not be reporting to Don Rumsfeld,” Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said on the “Today” program on NBC. “He will be working with John Negroponte and reporting to the president of the United States.”’