President Bush has come in for blistering criticism from Republican and Democratic intelligence experts over his apparent intention to name a seasoned Air Force general as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The brewing battle is, in essence, a turf war between the US military, which already controls 80 per cent of the country's intelligence resources, and the traditionally civilian leadership at the CIA, which feels the agency has been both over-politicised and deeply demoralised in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the intelligence farrago surrounding the Iraq war.
It now promises to turn into an intense political fight. All weekend, the White House floated the name of General Michael Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency, as the successor to Porter Goss, who resigned unexpectedly on Friday.
The Democrats were quick to say they would give General Hayden a good grilling during any confirmation hearings.
Yesterday, however, the chorus of disapproval extended to the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, who told a television interviewer: "We should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time ... he is the wrong person, at the wrong place, at the wrong time."Reuse content