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More on CIA and Hayden

Reacting to the cockamamie U.S. News story about Michael Hayden possibly staying on as CIA director, Glenn Greenwald reminds everyone that Barack Obama voted against Hayden’s confirmation in 2006, something I for one had most certainly forgotten and should have Googled. Glenn says, “it should be quite . . . let us, for the moment, say “interesting” . . . to watch him and his most loyal supporters explain and justify” any decision to keep Hayden on. To me, it’s another indication that the U.S. News item is total fantasy. In any event, I’ve reached out to the transition for some reaction one way or another.

Glenn also points to a post of Digby’s about Obama, Brennan and Hayden:

[T]his floating of Hayden could just be wishful thinking. But if the CIA is seeking to pressure the new administration to hire one of their own, this would be a clever way to frame it: if Obama doesn’t pick one of theirs, he will be portrayed as captive to the Left on national security. And naturally, the press runs with it because it fits their favorite storyline as well.

My guess is that there’s no need for the “but” here. Floating Hayden is a way for a couple of people in or around CIA to plant this narrative in an audacious way. They know there’s no chance that Obama would actually pick Hayden. It’s a way of exploiting a division — whereas the meta-debate was that Obama needed to pick a CIA person to avoid alienating the agency, now he needs to pick Hayden specifically. It’s a cynical-but-clever way of boxing Obama in. (My understanding is that Hayden is seen by most in the agency as kind of meh.)

For my part, it’s a good thing to pick someone whom the intelligence community trusts in a time of turmoil, and especially when CIA is going to be asked by Obama to hunt Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan, which is a really, really big responsibility. Someone from the inside fits the bill. It shouldn’t be someone with a history of supporting or excusing illegal activities like torture. The further good news is that* most people inside the CIA didn’t*. This should not actually be a difficult decision for Barack Obama.

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