CIA Director Shays?

Posted July 14, 2004 at 6:54pm

The long and the short of it: If President Bush offers him the job, he’ll take it.

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), whose name has appeared on the president’s short list to replace dearly departed George Tenet at the CIA, tells HOH he’s humbled to see his name on the list. [IMGCAP(1)]

“I’m grateful to be mentioned. It obviously got me thinking about the job,”

Shays said in an interview Wednesday.

But ever more humbly, Shays said if it were his advice to give, he’d tell the president to choose the No. 2 man at the State Department. “The person most qualified to do that would be Richard Armitage,” who served in Vietnam, worked with the intelligence community and has been a “tremendously effective” deputy secretary of State, Shays said.

But, OK, just hypothetically speaking, of course, if the president should ask?

“After listening to what I thought my strengths and weaknesses are, if the president said, ‘I’d like you to take this job,’ I would take it,” Shays said, then quickly adding with the proper amount of modesty, “But the issue is, I’m not going to be asked. I don’t have that expectation.”

Shays has developed an expertise on terrorism and intelligence issues in his capacity as chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and international affairs . He held some 20 hearings on terrorism before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and he has long been a proponent of having a national security strategy in place for preventing a large-scale terrorist attack.

And one thing that will definitely impress President Bush: Shays is not a fan of Richard Clarke, who has made a career of trashing the Bush administration’s counterterrorism and intelligence weaknesses since he left the administration. Shays, as subcommittee chairman, sent a letter to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in January 2001 blasting Clarke, then an adviser to the president, on counterterrorism issues, for turning “a deaf ear” to the panel’s requests for information.

In that letter, Shays said his subcommittee had determined there is “no coordinated national strategy” and that government agencies combating terrorism need “a vision and mission statement, goals and objectives.” Shays also called for the creation of a Homeland Security Department before Sept. 11.

Since the start of the war, Shays has visited Iraq five times and plans to return in August.

The Hartford Courant, Shays’ hometown paper, says the nine-term Connecticut Congressman “has the résumé” to fill the CIA job.

And if he gets it, won’t the Democrats have fun trying to take that seat? (Al Gore won Connecticut with 53 percent of the vote in 2000, by a 10-point margin over George W. Bush.)

Gay Outing Reverberations. Gay and straight staffers alike were alarmed Wednesday by a deluge of e-mails they received from a “gay outing” campaign in opposition to the GOP’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a debate that was cut off Wednesday on a procedural vote.

The e-mail, the delivery of which coincided with the Senate vote, named names of allegedly gay staffers like names have never been named before. The e-mails arrived in hundreds (not thousands, as the activists had thought) of Hill staffers’ inboxes late on Tuesday.

Sent by gay rights activist Mike Rogers, the e-mail contained a link to Rogers’ gay outing Web log, a missive against what it calls “hypocrites in Government.” The blog also details Rogers’ daily “to do” list, typically a full day’s worth of outing gay staffers who work for Senators and House Members who support the federal ban on gay marriage.

Gay and lesbian aides on the Hill are expressing outrage at the outing campaign, saying it could well cost many aides their jobs.

Lynden Armstrong, an aide to Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and co-chairman of the Gays, Lesbians and Allies Senate Staff Caucus — or GLASS — called the initiative “insensitive,” “misdirected” and fueled by anger. He said the outing campaign provides “a convenient, unethical way for [the activists] to release their pent-up anger toward these elected officials — by going after their staff.”

Armstrong said he was bothered by the “name calling” nature of the outing campaign; how, for example, the outing activists recently analogized gay staffers working for anti-gay lawmakers to Jews working for Nazis.

Furthermore, he said, the outing campaign will have no real impact in terms of changing the attitudes or votes of anti-gay members. And no one should know that better, he said, than John Aravosis, a gay rights activist and one of the leaders of the outing campaign who worked for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) for several years until 1992, when he came out.

“Aravosis enjoyed the protection of being closeted without someone outing him,” Armstrong pointed out. “Why is he doing it to other staffers now?

But that was then and this is now, Aravosis told HOH. He was opposed to the notion of outing closeted gays until the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment surfaced last year. As he put it: “I don’t like the idea of doing this. I feel like they forced us into it.”

Gay staffers over in the House were just as upset by the e-mails they received Wednesday naming names and threatening to go further.

Victor Castillo, the executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Congressional Staff Association, said he agrees with studies that show straight people are less likely to discriminate against homosexuals when they personally know someone who is gay. But outing gay people is the wrong way to forge that kind of acceptance, he said.

“It doesn’t happen overnight. This outing campaign is not going to have that impact. Rather than encouraging openness, it’s going to push people further in the closet,” Castillo said.

One House GOP leadership staffer, who is straight, called the outing “outrageous” and said, “Staffers and their personal lives are not public business. This has got to be against the law or something.”

Armstrong, the co-chairman of GLASS, said he fears the fallout over the outing campaign will come “in the next few weeks and months” either through gay staffers being outright fired or “quietly pushed out the door.”

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