By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
CIA Director Michael V. Hayden is telling associates he has big plans for life after a long career in the spy business. The retired four-star Air Force general will come in from the cold to write more than one book, join corporate boards, deliver paid speeches, and perhaps catch on as a TV national security analyst. Even the garrulous George Tenet, a former CIA director who wrote a bestseller about his time at Langley, has avoided the cable news spotlight.
Perhaps no ex-director in recent memory will leave Langley harboring so many secrets. He not only led the agency during the Iraq surge and hunt for Osama bin Laden, he also headed the super-secret National Security Agency at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Hayden found the NSA badly depleted by a decade of budget cuts. He quickly tried to rebuild its technical capabilities to keep up with the spread of cellphones and the Internet—two al Qaeda favorites. He vastly improved the NSA's ability to eavesdrop on Pakistan's tribal areas, where bin Laden is thought to be hiding, while he also presided over the Bush administration's controversial warrantless wiretapping program aimed at surveilling terrorists. The successful hunt for superterrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi in Iraq was aided by intercepting communications with new techniques developed by the NSA.
"Certainly he's got a unique perspective having served as both the director of the NSA and the CIA," said an associate, noting that Hayden's books must pass muster with agency censors.
Hayden did not mope when he learned that President-elect Barack Obama passed him over in favor of ex-representative Leon Panetta as CIA director. Hayden went out on the town, attending a battle of the bands at the National Press Club to benefit the Committee to Protect Journalists.