THE HAYDEN CHOICE....

THE HAYDEN CHOICE. Bush's choice to run the CIA, General Michael Hayden, is provoking some Republican opposition from members of both congressional Intelligence committees who don't want to see a military officer put in charge of the agency. If there's anything that can provoke GOP congresspeople to buck the administration, it's probably squabbling over turf, so something may really come of this initial poor reception. Donald Rumsfeld and his close collaborator Stephen Cambone have been trying to put as much of the Intelligence Community as possible under the Pentagon thumb which, among other things, runs contrary to the interests of people who sit on the Intelligence committees.

Since this is something at least some Republicans are upset about, it'll be natural for Democrats, too, to raise the issue. My hope would be, however, that Democrats don't see this as an excuse for ducking the more obvious question of Hayden's involvement in the NSA's illegal domestic surveillance initiative. I appreciate that lots of people in the party think the politics of this issue are dubious, but Bush has made it clear that he's picked Hayden specifically because of this issue, and sometimes you've just got to take a stand. Confirming Hayden would be a congressional ratification of the whole domestic spying business, and that's just unacceptable. More broadly, the habit of trying to duck national security fights is, itself, politically damaging and Democrats may as well start practicing hashing this out now rather than waiting for October.

--Matthew Yglesias

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