Hayden: Leave it Alone

/ November 14, 2008 at 5:00 AM

With recent news reports speculating his tenure as the nation's top intelligence official is all but over once the Obama administration takes power, CIA Director Michael Hayden had one piece of advice for those about to take over at the agency: Leave it alone.

While noting the agency still suffers flaws in its overall operations, Hayden said during his Nov. 13 speech at the Atlantic Council, the organization cannot withstand another massive overhaul like the one in 2006 when former CIA Director Porter Goss took office.

"This community has been inspected, investigated, reviewed and commissioned to death over the last six or seven years," Hayden said. "Is it perfect? God no, nothing is perfect."

However, he added, "another major look, another major restructuring I think would be catastrophic."

The key for the incoming Obama administration would be to plug in its own people into the existing CIA structure and "let them work," he added.

"I would say this: The structure we currently have is fine, good people can make it work. . . . Pick people to head these structures who have the confidence to run these complex organizations and who have the confidence of the political leadership . . . people you can trust, people who you think can do ((the job)), give them a mission and let them work."

While the current intelligence chief was adamant on how the next administration should proceed with current and future intelligence operations, he was less candid on whether he would remain at the agency to oversee that process. Citing senior intelligence officials, The Washington Post reported that Hayden and current National Security Advisor Mike McConnell would not continue in their current posts under an Obama White House.

"We clearly serve at the pleasure of the president," Hayden said of his future at CIA, adding that whoever takes the top spot at Langley, "there has to be a personal relationship between the president and that person."

-- Carlo Muñoz