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Next CIA Director Faces Plenty of Challenges

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

If confirmed, General Hayden will take charge of the CIA amidst internal turmoil. Joining me now to talk about the challenges he would face, is CIA veteran Jack Devine. He has served as a senior officer, directing the agency's clandestine operations, worldwide. Good morning.

Mr. JACK DEVINE (Former Acting Director of Actions Abroad, Central Intelligence Agency; President, The Arkin Group): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: What, in your opinion, should be at the very top of General Hayden's to-do list at the CIA - if he's confirmed?

Mr. DEVINE: I think the first thing that the general will want to do is to make sure he's got a team around him, that he builds a strong sense that he's part of the CIA tradition, and that he represents the best of the service. The second - the second thing is I think he's going to need, very quickly, to look at Iraq and Afghanistan and those places where have action programs; and then, right behind that, to make sure our relationships with our allies are as tight as they could be. Then, I think, you get on with the day-to-day work, and that can be done, I think, fairly quickly.

MONTAGNE: National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said yesterday that a CIA veteran, his name is Steve Kappes, is a leading contender to be general Hayden's deputy. Now, would that nomination ease a transition to the CIA by somebody from the outside, like General Hayden?

Mr. DEVINE: I think it would be a great asset, in terms of building, again, a sense of continuity, if you will, with the traditions of the service. I think the area that is often very complex for someone coming into the agency is the human part; and Steve Kappes is a very distinguished and experienced officer with tremendous integrity, and I think it would be just the right mix there, in terms of creating an environment of stability and in designing a program that will be quite realistic.

MONTAGNE: Some members of Congress have expressed concern over General Hayden's military background; I mean, he's a sitting general. As a formal senior official at the CIA, what's your opinion? Do you think General Hayden's military background is cause for concern, this being a civilian agency?

Mr. DEVINE: I think this is an overblown issue; I'm actually quite surprised. There's been a long tradition of having, either in the number one spot or the number two spot, a military officer, because so much of the work involves very close cooperation with the military. So I don't see this as a problem, and I don't know anybody that really sees Hayden as the, quote, “Pentagon's man.” I think he's a freestanding general with a tremendous amount of experience, and I would expect him to leave behind his Pentagon identity, if you will, and be the CIA director.

MONTAGNE: When it comes to his critics, especially during these hearings, how do you think General Hayden will answer them? What would be his style?

Mr. DEVINE: Well, I think the general is an experienced briefer. I think he's experienced in dealing with Congress. I think he will be forthright; I think he'll be clear, he will not be evasive; but I think he will make clear - and the committees that he'll be talking to understand those areas where he can't go publicly. But I would expect him to be forward leaning in his discussions, and I think he will be successful in those briefings. He's very smart. He really does understand his account, and I think he'll be able to defend it well.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. DEVINE: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Former CIA officer Jack Devine is a founding partner and President of The Arkin Group, an international risk consulting and intelligence firm in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.