Rumsfeld, Giambastiani Praise CIA Nominee's Credentials
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2006 The defense secretary and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today praised Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden's qualifications to serve as CIA director.
President Bush nominated Hayden to the post yesterday to replace Peter Goss.
"In my view, Mike Hayden is a true professional, and he'll do an excellent job for the country," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in response to a reporter's question at today's Pentagon news briefing.
"I've known him for about 17 years, and he is just a superb officer who is a tremendous professional," agreed Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. "I first met him when he was a colonel working in the National Security Council back in 1990. And all I would say to you is, I strongly support his professional credentials."
The two leaders cited President Bush's long working relationship with Hayden, who directed the National Security Agency before becoming deputy to Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte.
"The president knows him and has confidence in him, and clearly I support the nomination," Rumsfeld said.
The secretary noted Hayden's extensive experience. "He did not come up through the operational chain in the Department of Defense, and then at the last minute slide over into the intelligence business," he said. "He's a person who'd had assignment after assignment after assignment in the intelligence business, and clearly, that is what his career has been. And he's been very good at it."
Neither Rumsfeld nor Giambastiani said they see any conflict in appointing a military man to run the civilian CIA organization. The last person to do so was Navy Adm. Stansfield Turner, President Jimmy Carter's CIA director. Negroponte expressed a similar sentiment during a news briefing yesterday at the White House.
"To those who raise a question about the fact that Mike Hayden ... wears the uniform, and proudly so, of the United States Air Force, I would respond, they should look at the qualifications," Negroponte said. "And I think they can also be assured that Mike Hayden is a very, very independent-minded person, blunt-spoken, and who I don't think will have any difficulty whatsoever staking out positions that are independent and responsive to the needs of our civilian intelligence community."
In the midst of discussion and debate about Hayden's nomination, some people have lost sight of the bottom line, Rumsfeld said today.
"One would have thought that rational, ... responsible people would have understood that it's trying to find the formula, the way, the structure, the arrangements so that we can provide the very best intelligence for the American people so they can be protected," he said. "And that's what's central to this."