The president's pick to replace CIA head Porter Goss is drawing suspicious looks from the blogosphere, and Jimmy Carter's stirring up debate, too.
Hayden seeks: CIA Director Porter Goss resigned unexpectedly on Friday, setting off a weekend full of chatter and rumors. One of those rumors—that former National Security Agency head Gen. Mike Hayden would succeed Goss—was confirmed by President Bush on Monday.
The pick is drawing fire from congressional Republicans for several reasons, particularly Hayden's involvement with the NSA domestic-wiretapping program and his military career, as the CIA is a civilian organization. But many bloggers on the right are enthused. Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio host, applauds the selection because it "proudly asserts that the NSA program … was not only the right thing to do, it was completely within the law." At Right on the Right, 16-year-old conservative Justin is eagerly anticipating the Hayden nomination as a chance to spark a debate on domestic wiretapping. "I say, bring it on," he declares, adding, "The White House NEEDS to fight this battle, to expose the anti-security Left."
Current Observations' libertarian Don Bangert does not share his conservative counterparts' enthusiasm for putting a military man in the hot seat. "[I]sn't it customary to fill all intelligence agencies with military personnel when you're fixin' for a military-styled coup?" he hyperbolizes. But at In from the Cold, Spook86, who says he spent 20 years in the military intelligence community, supports Hayden and dismisses concerns about his military background as a "red herring." He adds, "If American is serious about reforming the CIA, then General Hayden should have confirmation hearings that focus on genuine intelligence issues, not ill-founded concerns about what uniform he wears to the office."
But The Blue State's Todd thinks that the wiretapping program is more than enough reason to oppose Hayden. "Democrats have every reason to reject the appointment of Michael Hayden unless he changes his view of the Fourth Amendment to the one actually written," he says.
There may be ethical concerns about Hayden, too. At TPM Muckracker, an offshoot of Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, Justin Rood has done quite a bit of digging on the Goss-Hayden story, and he has uncovered that Hayden had dealings with MZM Inc., "the company at the center of the Cunningham bribery scandal," while he was the head of the NSA. Liberal bloggers are seizing the connection as further evidence for rejecting the Hayden nomination. "Now, it's not clear that there was any malfeasance here. But it does look pretty damn fishy," Minipundit's blogger writes cautiously.
Read more about Mike Hayden here. Slate's Jack Shafer scolded Porter Goss for a poor New York Times op-ed in February, and John Dickerson analyzed Goss' departure on Friday. At TPM, Josh Marshall has a telling "it's a small world" photo.
Habitat for Hamas: An op-ed in the International Herald Tribune by former President Jimmy Carter calls the freezing of funds to the Palestinian Authority tantamount to punishing the innocent, just months after he wrote a similar piece for the Washington Post. (Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.) Bloggers are boiling with anger at what they see as the former president's apologizing for Hamas.
Jim Lindgren of group legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy says that the article left him "almost speechless." After recovering from the verbal affliction, Lindgren comments, "It seems to me that the line between being one of our best ex-Presidents and one of our worst is an awfully fine one." The conservative blogger who goes by Gateway Pundit is less oblique in his criticism. "Jimmy leads a one person parade of destruction and has a history of propping up the world's most evil regimes," he writes. He dismisses Carter's portrayal of Palestinian voters as seeking a stable government that will work with Israel for peace. "If these are the best elections at 'portraying the will of the people,' then again, what does this say about the people electing Hamas, the Jew-killing terrorist group?" he asks.
In an extensive post on Captain's Quarters, the pro-Israel Captain Ed analyzes Carter's piece point by point. Rather than seeing Carter as a "model ex-president," Captain Ed dismisses him. "Carter once again proves that his ex-presidency only marginally improves on his presidency, but only in the sense that he has less power to keep affairs as screwed up as possible. Other conservative bloggers are taking part in a movement to censure Carter.
But Hasan Salim Patel, a PR worker in the United Kingdom, approves of Carter's piece, though he thinks it's a bit late. "[I]f only a few more people like Carter spoke while they were in office, rather than out of office justice could have been delivered to the Palestinian people," he laments.