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Thoughts on the Hayden Hearings Thus Far…


Let me start by saying that Crooks and Liars has had some issues this morning, as several readers have pointed out.  Big thanks to reader mlk who provided an alternate link to C&L.  We’ll update as we get news on what’s up.

UPDATE:  Ooops, I spoke too soon.  The real C&L seems to be running fine for me, now — so it was likely just server maintenance.  Carry on.

CNN has an initial report up on Hayden’s opening statement — wherein he said that intelligence is too often used as a political football.  Nice public statement — I’d feel better if I knew he meant it rather than suspecting it may have been said for public consumption, given that they’ve been woodshedding him on testimony.  (Wonder if Hayseed Graham has helped with this nomination preparation, too?)

A huge thank you to all the readers who have stepped in for me in my hour of need this morning (child with tummy woes does not provide a good opportunity for momma to live blog hearings — so sorry everyone, but she comes first).  I wanted to highlight this from reader Jane S on Lawrence Tribe’s analysis:

I am no lawyer, just married to one. Tribe is laying out the relevant SCOTUS decisions and recent laws to make the case that the mass collection of our calling records is in fact a violation of the 4th Amendment and of specific laws passed by Congress. He argues that this is not a Democrat/Republican issue and points to a recent Scalia opinion that warned of the dangers of new technologies infringing on individuals’ privacy rights.

He mentions that the one case that the NSA defenders rely on is a 1979 Supreme Court decision which did not anticipate today’s technology and which is undermined by some more recent SCOTUS cases that address the topic indirectly.

And finally he says that the Congress was more aggressive in passing laws to protect Americans’ privacy with regard to calling records. And that because of these laws, there is a public expectation that our calling records will be protected.

And also highlight this bit from reader angie:

Levin: Did you design the specific NSA program.

Hayden: I took certain actions after the attack and I told all y’all. Tenet asked me if there was more I could do. I participated in the design.

Levin: if the press reports are true, is there not a privacy concern?

Hayden: we knew it was serious. I told the workforce on the 13th Sept that we needed to balance freedom and security. There are privacy concerns involved in all NSA programs.

Levin: Pressing him — are there other programs???

Hayden: not answering in open session.

Yeah, as if that isn’t raising little red flags on tin foil hats all over the listening area. (And some red flags among the not-so-tin-foily as well, if I may say so.)

Walter Pincus has an article in today’s WaPo on the Hayden nomination and the goal of increasing human intelligence capabilities should Hayden gain the DCI position.   

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, if confirmed as the new CIA director, would work to rebuild morale at the agency in part by emphasizing its central role in managing the collection of human intelligence overseas, including by agencies other than his own, according to active and retired senior intelligence officials.

Hayden would arrive at a CIA headquarters still shaken by the stormy 18-month tenure of Porter J. Goss. President Bush two weeks ago ousted Goss, whose directorship was marked by an exodus of some of the agency’s top experienced talent, an incoming wave of younger case officers and analysts, and growing White House dissatisfaction with the leadership provided by the former Florida congressman and his top staffers….

A powerful bureaucratic card in Hayden’s hand is one that he and Negroponte dealt last October, when they established the National Clandestine Service (NCS), based at the agency, to coordinate overseas human espionage by the CIA, Pentagon and FBI, and named the CIA director to manage it. Hayden and Kappes are expected to play active roles in coordinating human intelligence collection.

"It is no accident NCS is at the agency because, warts and all, the gold standard for training, tradecraft, source validation and description is in the Directorate of Operations at the CIA," said a veteran senior intelligence official with responsibilities in the clandestine collection area. "No matter how big you build clandestine operations at the CIA, it would never be big enough, and you need diversity like DOD [Defense Department] and FBI humint folded into it," the senior official added….

The cold fact, said a senior intelligence official who has recently worked closely with Hayden, is that CIA analysis "is no longer ‘ primus inter pares ,’ " first among equals, as it had been. It is one of 16 intelligence agencies, and it cannot be assumed, as in the past, that "how CIA judges an issue will become the result," the official said.

"CIA still has the largest number of analysts, but they are the youngest with almost 50 percent having less than five years of experience," the senior intelligence official said. "It is not very prudent to rely on that workforce. We have to go to the best people wherever [in the intelligence community] they may be," the official added.

Pincus always has interesting sources — as much for what they don’t say around the edges, as what does get reported as quotes. And I’m wondering if this isn’t some subtle warning to Rummy to back off or else. Anyone else reading it this way?

(Thought everyone would appreciate a photo of a hot WV girl (Jennifer Garner is from Charleston, WV) instead of one of the myriad of folks involved in the Hayden hearings.  And I can claim it’s tangentially related to the above, since hiring her would certainly approve morale among some members of the CIA, I’m sure.  *g*)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com