I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A new branch of the NSA Scandal - appointing Hayden as CIA Director

Reports have surfaced that the leading candidate to replace Porter Goss as CIA Director is Gen. Michael Hayden, who was the Director of the National Security Agency when that agency was ordered in October, 2001 by President Bush to begin spying on Americans without the warrants required by law. When the administration could no longer avoid answering the self-evident question as to why it was necessary to eavesdrop outside of the extremely permissive FISA framework, it was Gen. Hayden whom the administration sent out to give an explanation -- and the explanation Gen. Hayden gave was both incredible on its face and squarely contradicted by the administration's prior statements.

For that reason, Gen. Hayden's confirmation hearings would be certain to entail a (hopefully aggressive) examination as to his overseeing and defending the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program (Sen. Feingold is on the Intelligence Committee, which by itself guarantees at least some worthwhile and probing questions). As the Times put it this morning:

General Hayden, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, would also face serious questions about the controversy over the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program, which he oversaw and has vigorously defended.

Any event which forces further public discussion, debate and examination of the administration's lawbreaking is a good thing, in my view. Many administration supporters boastfully predicted that this scandal would be all wrapped up and easily tossed aside by now, and yet the opposite is clearly happening -- with the various judicial proceedings challenging the NSA program, Sen. Specter's ongoing investigation and promised new hearings, Sen. Feingold's still pending Censure Resolution, and increased media attention being paid to these lawbreaking issues. This scandal is far, far away from being resolved, and is still quietly though inexorably growing.

Having said that, it is highly illustrative of this administration's mindset that they believe that the best candidate to direct the CIA is the individual who oversaw and vigorously defended the administration's illegal eavesdropping on American citizens. Isn't he the last person who ought to be put in that position?

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