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WASHINGTON — The Senate on Friday confirmed Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden as CIA chief, the first active-duty or retired military officer to be director of the civilian intelligence agency in 25 years.
Hayden was approved by a vote of 78-15.
Hayden, 61, is a four-star general and until the confirmation, was the top deputy to National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist released a statement on Friday applauding the confirmation and the nominee.
“This is a critical time for the CIA, and it’s vital that the agency have strong, experienced leaders such as General Hayden to provide steady guidance as we forge ahead in the War on Terror. With 20 years of experience in the intelligence community, he is the right man for the job,” Frist said. “He’s made clear his interest in an open and honest relationship with Congress and his respect for our oversight role. I have every confidence he will serve our nation well as CIA director, and I look forward to working with him.”
At his confirmation hearing, Hayden sought to assure senators that he would be independent from the Pentagon but said he would consider how his uniform affects his relationship with CIA personnel. If it were to get in the way, he said, “I’ll make the right decision.”