They’re going to bounce the current deputy director, a vice admiral, so that there aren’t two military guys at the top. Of the CIA, that is; if Hayden gets confirmed, military officers would be in charge of all three government intelligence agencies. Which, per the logic of the chickenhawk argument, presumably should be something of a comfort to our pals on the left.

Hayden also spearheaded the NSA program of wiretapping people with suspected links to terrorism without a warrant.

Too much baggage. Hoekstra and Chambliss have already fired shots across the bow; how is Rove going to “energize the base” with the GOP eating its own during a nasty confirmation battle? Congressional Republicans are surely looking for ways to distance themselves from Bush before the midterms and borking Hayden gives them a perfect opportunity.

Here’s where some genius floats the theory that Rove, in his incandescent brilliance, wants Hayden to be the nominee for precisely that reason. Forgive me if my confidence in Rove’s political acuity isn’t as unshakeable these days as it used to be.

It’ll be interesting to see where Hugh Hewitt comes down on this. I’m guessing “solid B+”.

Anyway. Should be a nice, easy session for Tony Snow on his first day, and a fun confirmation hearing a few weeks from now. And by “fun,” I of course mean excruciatingly contentious and divisive.

To quote Han Solo, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”


Update: It’s official.

Update: HA a house divided! Our resident video wizard, Bryan Preston, argues in the comments below that I’m full of hot air.

Update: Defense Tech quotes an unnamed military intelligence specialist as saying Hayden is an inspired pick:

One of the big talking points on both sides of the aisle is how CIA needs to be fixed… Hayden did the same thing at NSA, dragging it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. He overcame a lot of bureaucratic inertia to accomplish that. I would say he is the best candidate to do just the same at CIA. Additionally, being a in the military might afford him a little extra protection from some of the political sniping that comes with a regular political appointee. Time will tell, but if we are serious as a nation about our security and having competent intelligence services to help provide that security, I don’t think we could fins anyone better for this job at this time.

Update: NRO is less interested in the appointee than the agenda: “It is crucial that the administration and Hayden make clear from day one that, while Goss is gone, the CIA purge is far from over. Those who are using the agency to undermine the war effort must be rooted out, no matter who is in charge.”

Update: Looks like Allah’s on his own here. Former Spook praises Hayden to the skies and Confederate Yankee talks to an intel officer he’s friends with who’s also pleased with the choice. To be clear: I’m not arguing that Hayden wouldn’t do a good job, I’m arguing that it’s unwise to hand the Democrats easy talking points before an election about militarization and wiretapping. If Hayden really will clean the place up, as many people predict, then the bad press and election fallout might be a price worth paying. Until about twelve hours ago, though, the standard line in the right-wing blogosphere was that the CIA was unreformable, should be dismantled, and the salvageable parts folded into the DIA or NSA. Now Hayden’s going to save it? Perhaps, but I’m not optimistic.

Besides, there are already some Republicans like Hoekstra on record as opposing the pick. Specter is saying he’ll use the hearings to raise questions about the wiretapping program. How do you think it’ll play with independent/undecided voters to see members of Bush’s own party acting squeamish about his nominee?

Bottom line: Hayden could be an expensive choice, and the GOP doesn’t have much capital left. I just hope we get our money’s worth.