President-Elect Obama May Keep Mike Hayden as Director of the CIA

It's not out of the question that CIA boss Mike Hayden will stay on for a time under Obama.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers.

As President-elect Barack Obama continues to build his national security staff, now focused on intelligence, it is possible that he might ask CIA Director Mike Hayden to stay on for a while, intelligence sources say. Much of the speculation about the CIA job has been that Obama wants a change, in part because he disagreed with the CIA's detention policies. But officials are pushing back a little on that issue, suggesting that Hayden has been carrying out the policies backed by Congress and the president before he arrived at Langley, not freelancing on his own. "It's unfair to blame Hayden for things that occurred long before he took the job. But he deserves credit for standing up for the folks over there at CIA, even though a lot of the stuff he has dealt with didn't happen on his watch," said an intelligence official. "Administration policy and American law shape what the CIA does. If the president says he doesn't want something done, that's it. These are his programs," added the official.

What's more, intelligence officials say that the program has changed and that, for example, waterboarding—officially used on three detainees—ended three years before Hayden came aboard. Does he want to stay on? Officials won't be so blunt, but they do suggest Hayden would like continue working with his people. "If he were asked to stay on at CIA, that's something he would consider at the time. Mike likes the work, he has a high regard for the people over there, and he cares passionately about the mission. Those are the factors that he would consider," said an official. Publicly, spokesman Mark Mansfield told Whispers today: "As Director Hayden has said, with every transition comes all sorts of speculation about personnel changes across government. He has tried to ignore it. He understands that he serves at the pleasure of the president, and he is focused on running the CIA."