Raking Through the Muck
Yesterday, we reported on salicious allegations involving General Michael Hayden, President Bush's nominee to be the next CIA Director. The information was reported on the website of an organization called militarycorruption.com. In reviewing their "evidence," we found it to be a case of "he said/she won't comment." The "he" in this case is retired Air Force Major Kevin Furlong, who says his ex-wife admitted to having affairs with General Hayden (and other men). Major Furlong's former wife has refused to comment on the matter. However, she did win a court case against her ex-husband, forcing him to remove sexually explicit pictures of her from the internet.
After our first posting on the subject, we received e-mails and links from a number of alert readers, directing us to cached copies of former websites devoted to "Captain amErika" (the term militarycorruption.com uses in referring to her, due to "legal" considerations.) The websites make a number of accusations against this woman; however, we were unable to open and review any of the "cached" attachments, so it is difficult, if not impossible, to verify any of these claims.
Additionally, the ties between this woman and General Hayden appear tenuous at best. The material we reviewed said they met in the Balkans in 2001, when Captain amErika was deployed there and Hayden (then director of NSA) paid a visit to SIGINT personnel and organizations in that region. We don't have details on General Hayden's trip (yet), but it sounds like one of those routine "see the troops" visits that senior officers make on a routine basis. These visits typically include multiple sites and briefings over a compressed schedule; under those circumstances, it seems highly unlikely that a three-star flag officer would commence an affair with someone he just met. Neither the former website (nor militarycorruption.com) have evidence of any subsequent contacts between this officer and General Hayden--other than the alleged comments to her former husband, hardly an impartial observer.
The former website also insinuates that General Hayden may have played a role in securing civilian employment for the individual, after she left her last Air Force assignment at Tyndall AFB, FL. We have confirmed that the individual in question is currently employed by a certain, three-letter intelligence agency which is headquartered at an Army post in Maryland. Our contacts even provided the individual's office phone numbers and e-mail addresses, which we will not publish. Additionally, we do not know the circumstances that led to her employment at the agency. However, as an experienced intelligence officer with the requisite security clearances, she certainly met the basic criteria for employment at the organization.
It is worth noting the civil service system is designed to prevent nepotism and cronyism in hiring, although the process is far from foolproof. Even agency directors have only limited influence in hiring personnel, particularly for entry and middle-level positions. These safeguards are designed to prevent episodes like one I witnessed in my own military career. At a large USAF intelligence organization, I watched the commander try to browbeat a civilian human resources manager into hiring a waitress from a local steakhouse as a GS-12 analyst. The waitress was extremely attractive, but she had no professional experience in the intel field, and no college degree. The HR manager rightly refused and stood her ground. The Colonel became so incensed that he suspended the HR manager for five days. She filed a grievance against the Colonel and won, and his career ended not long after that incident. Admittedly a three-star general has more influence than a mere O-6, but the same rules still apply. It's hard to imagine someone as sharp as Mike Hayden trying to circumvent the personnel process to hire an alleged paramour than he apparently hadn't seen in almost three years.
After our first review of the "Hayden file," we observed that the purported evidence was "as thin as orphanage gruel." Twenty-four hours later, our initial assessment hasn't changed. If the information in the website is correct--and that's a big "if"--then Capt amErika has issues that raise questions about her personal conduct, ethical standards and ability to hold a Top Secret security clearance. But the information linking her to the CIA nominee is paper thin, and the MSM would be well-advised to think long and hard before running with this one.
Regarding the folks who "broke" this story, my message remains unchange: put up or shut up. The available evidence tells only one side of the divorce case, that of an unhappy ex-husband. If you're serious about pursuing this story, publish court records and other public documents from the Furlong's divorce case, and make a FOIA request for relevant military records. Without that information, you've got a story that even the National Enquirer wouldn't touch, long on allegation, short on demonstrable facts.
And in fairness, you might want to point out that Major Furlong apparently met his ex-wife while serving as one of her college ROTC instructors. If that's the case--and if their relationship began at that point--then retired Major Furlong was potentially guilty of serious misconduct during his military career. Any sort of romantic involvement between superiors and subordinates remains illegal under the UCMJ, something that Major Furlong should have known. Sounds like someone else in this sordid affair may have a few skeletons in his closet, too.
Excuse me, while I head for the bathroom. After this exercise in sewage sifting, I definitely need a shower.