ABC News' Jonathan Karl Reports: First Gates, Now Hayden?
The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says President-elect Barack Obama should keep President Bush's intelligence chiefs for at least six months to ensure a smooth transition.
It's a move that would likely cause a revolt on the left.
Keeping Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Director of the CIA Mike Hayden would be hugely controversial among many of Obama's core supporters.
McConnell is disliked by many on the left because of his vocal support of the terrorist surveillance program that allowed some domestic wiretapping, and Hayden is controversial because he helped launch the program when he was head of the NSA and because of his steadfast support of the CIA's detainee interrogation program.
"There's got to be some continuity, and the leadership of both the CIA and the DNI is going to be pivotal to keeping us safe and secure," House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, told Congress Daily. Reyes said that it is up to Obama to decide how long to keep them.
"It gets back to a world that is very dangerous," Reyes added. "There are many different aspects that deal with our national security and it's critical that we have that overlap. ... I know that they're considering, they're weighing the options," he said of Obama's transition team.
McConnell has told colleagues that he intends to step down on Jan. 20. Hayden, however, has said that he would be willing to stay on the job for a while longer.
ABC News was first to report that retired Adm. Dennis Blair had emerged as Obama's top choice for national intelligence, but over the weekend ABC News' Martha Raddatz learned that he was no longer in the running for the post.
A source familiar with the transition indicated that Blair would have faced "Hill problems" during his confirmation process.