At a White House ceremony this morning, President Bush presented National Security Medals to CIA Director Mike Hayden and deputy Steve Kappes. It is the nation's highest intelligence award.
It came as the president is making his final rounds with his regular intelligence team and briefers and followed by a day Hayden's own farewell address to CIA workers during a town hall meeting. In his address, Hayden praised the work done by the CIA. He also received the agency's highest honor, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal from Kappes for his "calm, strong, and decisive leadership."
But as serious as yesterday's CIA event was, Kappes also had some fun with his boss. Referring to Hayden's obsession with the Pittsburgh Steelers, his hometown team, Kappes said, "We also, of course, entered a new era in which sports metaphors have been integrated into intelligence jargon more than at any time in the history of the CIA."
Kappes said that it did help bridge some gaps. "Director Hayden identified the most difficult, the most complex subjects that faced CIA. And he made himself the master of those subjects. He is the consummate intelligence professional. His questions are focused. They are probing. His analysis is insightful and his ideas are creative and innovative. On those difficult issues, he then represented us and many times defended us to policymakers, to the United States Congress, and to the public. He did this in new and unprecedented and successful ways. Ladies and gentlemen, this director is the only director in history to appear on a sports talk radio program in Pittsburgh and on National Public Radio [Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me]. That is bridging gaps," said Kappes. "They [Hayden and his wife, Jeanine] also identified a new demographic at the CIA. At each employee holiday reception, when the director and Mrs. Hayden and I shook hands, I discovered that 75 percent of all employees in the CIA are from Pittsburgh. It is a very tough pill for an Ohio boy to swallow."
- Read more about how Hayden defends the CIA's interrogation practices.