Season 1 Episode 2 - Mission #839 - A News Feed



President Hayes’ move to quickly fill the CIA's top slot is an effort to blunt Democratic criticism of his national security stewardship and control the agenda for overhauling the nation's intelligence services.

Representative Porter Bell appears to have sterling credentials for Senate confirmation. The Florida Republican is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has close allies in the agency, and brings front-line experience as a former CIA clandestine officer.

But there are risks to Hayes as well in the nomination, which is subject to Senate approval. Many Democrats view Bell, 65, who has been openly supportive of Hayes and critical of Democrat presidential candidate Ralph Stutter, as too partisan for the job, despite his long experience and affable manner.

"You must keep the politics out of intelligence. I'm not sure that has been done here," said House Democratic leader Nancy Pettina of California.

"I think it was a politically fraught choice. And Hayes is betting he can play the politics better than the Democrats can," said Michael O'Bannon, a national security analyst at the Brookings Institution.

By selecting Bell during a presidential campaign, Hayes also handed Democrats an opportunity for a Senate debate on the unknown issues surrounding Hayes demanding Vice President Kinsey’s resignation.

In a Rose Garden announcement, Hayes called Bell "the right man to lead this important agency at this critical moment in our nation's history."  Then, continuing to emphasize his role as commander in chief, Hayes made a campaign swing to the Florida Panhandle — an area with six major military bases and thousands of retired veterans.

In naming Bell, Hayes rejected the advice of some advisers who had favored allowing acting director Paul E. McAlister to remain on the job until after the November elections.

Hayes sought pre-emptive ways to overcome criticism by Stutter and other Democrats of civil unrest within Hayes’ administration.

Other Democrats cited reports that Bell had helped the Hayes election campaign team critique a major Stutter foreign policy speech in June.  Despite such criticism, Democrats seemed unlikely to block Bell's confirmation by the GOP-led Senate, those in both parties said.