All accounts indicate Porter Goss is being cycled out as CIA chief because he “butted heads” (Newsday, May 6) with National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. Goss, former head of the House Intelligence Committee, was appointed in September 2004 as an advocate of reconfiguring the intelligence apparatus following his probe of the 9-11 debacle. Significantly, this was also just as the Bush administration was starting to realize that Iraq was going seriously awry. He should have realized the dangers of being brought in for damage control. Such figures are always dispensible. The shake-up also indicates that the new post of National Intelligence Director is superior to that of Director of Central Intelligence. In a related point, it indicates that the permanent apparatus of “national security” (through which Negroponte came up) is now more central to real power in Washington than Congress and the institutions of elected office (through which Goss came up). Figures of the prior bloc traditionally view those of the latter with contempt, condescendingly humoring their illusion of power. This is doubly the case for the “special interest groups” which supposedly control Congress behind the scenes—they are increasingly useful idiots for the intelligence apparatus that increasingly runs the empire.
As for Goss’ likely successor Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, currently (significantly) Negroponte’s deputy director of National Intelligence, the New York Times treats us to this fine specimen of doublethink May 6:
While General Hayden has extensive administrative experience, he would face daunting challenges at the C.I.A., an agency that has been demoralized and has endured turbulence since the mid-1990’s. As N.S.A. director until last year, General Hayden oversaw the program to intercept international phone calls and e-mail messages of Americans and others in the United States believed to have links to Al Qaeda.
General Hayden, 61, has been the program’s most public defender, repeatedly asserting that it is legal and constitutional even though the eavesdropping is done without warrants from a special court set up in 1978 to authorize such surveillance.
“I’ve taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” General Hayden said at the National Press Club in January as he defended what the Bush administration calls the Terrorist Surveillance Program. “I would never violate that Constitution, nor would I abuse the rights of the American people.”
Cute, eh? Supports warrantless wiretaps and says he upholds the Constitution. Lucky for him, most of the citizenry doesn’t have a clue what the document actually says.
If Hayden is approved, this will also mark the first time that an active-duty military general heads the traditionally civilian-lead CIA. This can be read as a play by Rumsfeld and the dominant Cowboy wing of the ruling elites to regain control of an agency which (as the Valerie Plame affair indicates) is perceived as a bastion of East Coast blue-blood Yankee liberal sofites. Which is a pretty ghastly irony at a time when the agency is accused of running a secret torture archipelago.