The appointment of General Hayden to run the Central Intelligence Agency is the ideal appointment to help reform the CIA at this critical point in time.
What many people don’t understand is the relationship between the military and the CIA. The military, quite obviously, is aligned with the Department of Defense, and the CIA is aligned with the Department of State. While this doesn’t seem to have much of a meaning, the two departments really have very different ways of looking at the world and looking at conflict.
The purpose of the Department of Defense is to kill people and break things. That’s what the military does best. When the military looks at the world, they look at ways to win wars. When they find threats, they eliminate them.
The Department of State, however, looks at the world very differently. They look at the world diplomatically and seek to maximize the amount of information on adversaries or potential adversaries. When the CIA finds threats, they seek to get as much information as possible, including who is supporting or financing those threats, what their intentions are, and with whom they are working.
To be perfectly clear, both are necessary. In order to adequately deal with threats, one needs to fully understand where those threats come from and shat is involved to eliminate them. Knowing everything you can about the enemy is useless without eventual action. Knowing who the 9/11 hijackers are doesn’t, by itself, prevent them from flying into buildings.
The situation, combined with typical inter-agency rivalry, has led both departments into a form of opposition. While the military (and Bush for that matter) have backed action into Iraq to end the conflict that has been going on for 12 years (at the time of the second invasion), State and the CIA was opposed because that conflict would end the information flow and diplomacy. That difference in world-view has been the source of much public contention on the Iraq War and the War on Terror in general.
By appointing Hayden to the CIA, it appears that the intent is to shift the viewpoint of the CIA to be more action-oriented. Hayden is in intelligence, so he obviously knows the value of information, however, as a soldier he also surely knows the value of action and that there comes a point to act on intelligence even if there is more information that could be gathered.
This change is a good thing, as it will help both Defense and State to moderate the poles that have been generated from the rivalry. This appointment is a good thing at a great time that will help both agencies to understand the values each provide and help them learn to work together in the future. The military will learn the value of diplomacy and information and the CIA will learn the value of action. Our national defense will be the clear winner.