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CIA insider offered spy agency's No. 2 post

Director nominee Hayden makes Capitol Hill courtesy calls

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, meets Tuesday with Gen. Michael Hayden on Capitol Hill.

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN

Top intelligence assignments
  • Deputy director of national intelligence, April 2005-present
  • Director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service, March 1999 to April 2005
  • Deputy chief of staff, U.N. Command and U.S. Forces Korea, September 1997 to March 1999
  • Commander, Air Intelligence Agency, and director, Joint Command and Control Warfare Center, January 1996 to September 1997

    Source: U.S. Air Force
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    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Steve Kappes, a recently retired CIA insider, has been offered the No. 2 slot at the spy agency, sources told CNN, to reassure the CIA operations community about Gen. Michael Hayden's appointment as director as well as ease concerns about that nominee's military ties.

    The decision to tap Kappes is also seen as a move aimed at members of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee who have raised doubts about Hayden.

    Kappes was a civilian operations officer who reportedly was forced out of the CIA by Porter Goss' associates after Goss became director in 2004.

    Intelligence analysts and former intelligence officials said that Kappes' selection is a repudiation of Goss, who abruptly announced his resignation Friday after reported disagreements with National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.

    Bush nominated Hayden, deputy director of national intelligence, to head the CIA on Monday. (Full story)

    Kappes -- who sources said has accepted the job offer -- is credited with pulling off the deal that persuaded Libya to give up its weapons programs.

    Negroponte named Kappes as a potential CIA No. 2 on Monday.

    "I believe that Mike's appointment, and I think together if the appointment of Steve Kappes goes through, I think that's going to be a boost for the morale out there," Negroponte said. "And I think they're going to welcome this new leadership."

    Suggestions of resigning post

    A new CIA director must first be confirmed by the Senate, and Hayden is making courtesy calls Tuesday to members of the Intelligence Committee, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Carl Levin, D-Michigan.

    The chairman of the intelligence Committee, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, said hearings could start next week. Roberts has expressed reservations about Hayden's nomination due to his ties to the military.

    As he headed to meet with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Hayden was asked about suggestions by some committee members that he resign his military post. "I can understand their concerns," Hayden said.

    Frist, R-Tennessee, and Feinstein have both expressed support for Hayden.

    Later, when asked if his discussions had included talk about him leaving the military, Hayden said, "It's been brought up. We've talked about it -- pros and cons."

    Feinstein said that if Hayden resigned his post, "I think that would be a good way to go. I think that would take care of that issue."

    Levin has withheld any comment.

    Rumsfeld: 'No power play'

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday blasted the "quality of the debate" on Hayden's nomination, saying, "There is no power play taking place in Washington."

    Some critics have cast the choice as a turf war, with the Pentagon trying to gain more control over intelligence-gathering.

    "If you look at the debate and articles in the newspaper and comments that are being made, they are about theoretical conspiracies, theoretical bureaucratic turf fights. They're all off the mark," Rumsfeld said at a news conference.

    Hayden is "an intelligence professional," he said.

    "He did not come up through the operational chain of the Department of Defense and then at the last minute slide over into the intelligence business. He's a person who has had assignment after assignment after assignment in the intelligence business and clearly that is what his career has been. And he's been very good at it. He did an excellent job at the National Security Agency."

    Bush: Hayden 'the right man'

    Announcing Hayden's nomination Monday at the White House, President Bush called the 61-year-old military officer "supremely qualified" for the position and "the right man to lead the CIA at this critical moment in our history." (Watch Bush say why he tapped Hayden -- 6:38)

    Hayden's selection also is likely to reignite the controversy surrounding the Bush administration's program to monitor communication into the United States by suspected terrorists without court warrants. (Watch why nomination may reignite wiretaping debate -- 2:19)

    The president authorized the program when Hayden headed the NSA in 2001. (Watch general unrest over nomination for top spy -- 2:34)

    Hayden said Monday that he looked forward to the confirmation process and working with Congress to continue to reform the intelligence agency.

    "There's probably no post more important in preserving our security and our values as a people than the head of the Central Intelligence Agency," he said.

    "This is simply too important not to get absolutely right."

    At a news conference shortly after the announcement, Negroponte said Hayden is a "very independent-minded person" who's also outspoken.

    He asked those with concerns about Hayden's experience with human intelligence to look at his qualifications as a former defense attaché in Bulgaria.

    "As far as this concern that's been expressed about the military or the Pentagon taking over intelligence, I think that there's a lot of unfounded concerns there," Negroponte said. "... and we're also in a war, so it really stands to reason that we do have to work very closely with the Pentagon and with the armed services in our intelligence activities and we do precisely that."

    CNN's David Ensor contributed to this report.

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