CIA Nominee May Soften on Eavesdropping
CIA Nominee Hayden Hints That Changes to Law to Allow for Eavesdropping May Be Possible
KATHERINE SHRADER / AP | May 11 2006
WASHINGTON - CIA director-nominee Michael Hayden has told at least one Democratic senator that he may be open to changing the law that governs eavesdropping on U.S. soil to allow the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance.
According to Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Hayden indicated he could support a congressional debate on modifying that law. The exchange came during a 35-minute meeting Wednesday about his nomination to be CIA director.
President Bush and other senior officials have said they don't believe that changes in law are needed to empower the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without court approval on communications between people in the U.S. and overseas when terrorism is suspected.
(Still no mention of Non foreign ILLEGAL wiretaps I see.)
The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act established a system requiring the national security agencies to first seek approval from a secretive federal court before monitoring Americans. Bush's program skirted those rules.
(Let me be sure here, skirting the rules? Or breaking the law? I can see me now the next time I get pulled over, "Sir, why are you going 100 mph in a 45 zone?", " Just skirting the rules a bit officer, thought I might need to go a little faster since I just skirted that Banks rules. Oddly, they didn't seem very happy about it.)
Hayden, an Air Force four-star general and former NSA director, and other government officials had previously said that they did not ask Congress to change the surveillance law because the debate would reveal U.S. intelligence techniques. Gradually, the White House has come around, saying it is committed to working with Congress on legislation that would write the president's eavesdropping authority into statute.
But the White House has not specifically embraced changes to the FISA process.
Durbin said Hayden told him: "With all the publicity that has surrounded this program, we may be closer to the possibility of asking for a change in FISA."
"He didn't say he would," Durbin added.
(Wow, so the only debate here or concern expressed about the warrantless (i.e. ILLEGAL) wiretaps is about them changing the law to allow it? What about enforcing the law? Where's that debate?)
Spokespeople for Hayden were not immediately available to comment.
Hayden is making the rounds on Capitol Hill to help sell his nomination to be CIA director. Outgoing director Porter Goss announced his resignation Friday, and officials have said that Goss had conflicts with National Intelligence Director John Negroponte and his top deputy, Hayden.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Ill., plans to hold open and closed hearings on Hayden's nomination starting May 18.
Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern about the prospect of an Air Force officer running the civilian CIA. Also creating discomfort are Hayden's ties to the warrantless surveillance program, which Bush has credited Hayden with designing.
(And so the only other debate is military civilian?)
Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., a Hayden supporter, has said that confirmation hearings should note that he is not a lawyer and was relying on the advice of the White House counsel's office, the Justice Department and other top government lawyers when the NSA program was created.
(Ah, the I don't know the law and can't get in trouble for breaking it line. The shit people buy these days, I tell ya. Mixed with a dash of ignorance and ineptness hallmarks of any Bush administration defense.)
Senate Republicans were gradually embracing Hayden. After a morning meeting with him, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said that he plans to vote to confirm Hayden, "unless there's some problem that develops during the process of the hearings."
Lott said the 20-minute session addressed the importance of preventing the Defense Department from becoming "the dominant and the only operation that's really pursuing the necessary intelligence."
Durbin said Hayden told him he "wouldn't rule out" retiring from the military, as some lawmakers have pressed. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., who supports Hayden, doesn't think that the general needs to give up his uniform.
"If it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck. Just because you put a different suit on the duck doesn't make it not a duck," said Bond, an intelligence committee member.
(So how and why does an on Duty, during a war no less, Air Force Gen. also obtain and want to obtain a civilian job posistion? Too much free time?)
Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, is reserving judgment on supporting Hayden. He questioned Hayden's role in the wiretapping program, whether he could be independent from the military establishment and whether he would respect Congress' ban on cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of terror detainees. Vice President Cheney fought to have CIA operatives excluded from the provisions of the amendment, approved last year.
(Uh, so, ya.)
"It is not a question of Gen. Hayden's qualifications," Durbin said. "There is no doubt that this man is probably one of the smartest men when it comes to intelligence gathering in America."
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, an intelligence committee member, said Hayden was likely to be confirmed. "But we want to go through a very vigorous confirmation process on these major issues," she added.
(Yep, people love their dog and pony show.)
Associated Press Writer Elizabeth White and Sam Hananel contributed to this report. http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/may2006/110506Eavesdropping.htm