Lehman to Head CIA?
The Bush administration is seriously considering nominating John Lehman, businessman, former Navy secretary and current 9/11 commissioner, to replace George Tenet as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, NBC News has learned from multiple sources at the White House, the State Department and on Capitol Hill.
The nomination of Lehman, who is being viewed as the leading candidate, could come as soon as Thursday, in an attempt to deflect attention from a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the agency, a report expected to be highly critical. The official release of the report has been delayed because ranking Democratic member, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has other commitments.
Lehman, who was known as a reformer during his Navy days but who is not popular at the CIA, would be acceptable to most Republicans on the Hill Ã¢€” in sharp contrast to Rep. Porter Goss, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who was roundly rejected by leaders of the committee when his name was leaked last week.
I remember Lehman from his days as Reagan’s SecNav, but don’t know enough to evaluate his prospects as a potential DCI. According to his 9-11 Commission bio, he’s got a Ph.D. from the University of Pennslvania (presumably in engineering or a related discipline, judging from his career path) and has written several books. From what I can tell at Amazon, they’re mostly on naval affairs. Aside from his service on the 9-11 Commission, it’s not obvious that he has any intelligence-specific experience.
Josh Marshall is unimpressed:
The folks in position to guide ‘reform’ are intent on accentuating the problems that led to the existing problems — principally, further politicization and an elevation of ideologues over intelligence professionals. In short, a more thoroughgoing ‘disciplining’ of the Agency by the present administration, step one of Cheneyization.
DCI is a political position, first and foremost. The ability to manage a large bureaucracy and budget aren’t something one necessarily gains working one’s way up the ladder of the intelligence community, nor is the ability to promote the IC’s agenda in the intergovernmental process.
It is rare indeed for a cabinet head to have come up through the ranks of the bureaucracy. We’ve had numerous Secretaries of Defense who have never served in the military; most served only briefly. Likewise, few Secretaries of State have ever been diplomats. The path to the FBI Directorship seldom (if ever?) involves a stint as a Special Agent. It’s not immediately clear to me why the DCI should be different.