The Slime-ing of General Hayden
It was probably inevitable, given today's "gotcha" media/political environment, and the CIA's own resistance to change. This story will probably enter the news cycle in the coming hours, and become part of a campaign to "slime" General Mike Hayden, the president's nominee to take over that troubled spy agency. At first glance, the charge that General Hayden might have had an extra-maritial affair seems shaky, the evidence as thin as orphanage gruel. But the lack of demonstrable facts hasn't stopped the political class and the MSM in the past. We'll see what happens this time.
The accusation against General Hayden is being reported by an organization called militarycorruption.com, run by several ex-military and media types. The organization prides itself on "fighting for the truth...exposing the corrupt." Judging from their website, the organization seems to spend a lot of time on sex-related cases, and allegations of misconduct by senior officers and other high-ranking officials. Some of their cases are well known, such as the former Air Force Judge Advocate General, demoted and forced into retirement for a string of affairs during his military career. Other investigations by the website are obscure, and have received little attention--even in military circles.
But the Hayden accusation is bound to be a block-buster. According to the organization's website, General Hayden "might" have had an extra-marital affair with with a then-married, female NSA officer which militarycorruption.com identifies as "Captain Amerika." No timeline is given for the affair, and the website refuses to name her for "legal reasons." The accuser in this case is the woman's ex-husband, identified as "former" Air Force Major Kevin Furlong. Major Furlong told the organization that his ex-wife admitted having affairs with Hayden and other men. In return, Furlong reportedly posted nude pictures of his ex-wife on the internet, until a judge ordered him to remove them. There's obviously no love lost between Furlong and his ex-wife, who was never accused of misconduct, and later promoted to major.
Militarycorruption.com won't provide any details on Furlong's military career (describing him as "former" rather than "retired' suggests he left the Air Force before serving 20 years--it would be interesting to know why he left early, and under what circumstances). Additionally, the organization will not disclose his current location, other than to say he lives in Texas. Sorry, but when you level that sort of charge against a presidential nominee, you give up some measure of your right to privacy. Additionally, the website has no copies of the Furlongs' divorce filings (which should be public record), documents that are central to this accusation. And, of course, the former Mrs. Furlong is only identified by the moniker "Captain Amerika" because of "legal reasons" (read: threatened lawsuit).
In other words, what we have are an accusation of an obviously disgruntled ex-husband, with no proof to support his allegations other than "his word." By even internet standards, that's extraordinarily skimpy "evidence" (and I use that term advisedly). But that hasn't stopped the folks at militarycorruption.com from running with the story. And, given the opposition marshalling against General Hayden, the accusation may well gain traction in the coming days, providing a potential mechanism for derailing the nomination.
For the record, I don't know General Hayden and never worked for him. My only knowledge of the man and his conduct comes from indivduals who have worked with him and for him over the past three decades. Without fail, they describe him as an exceptional leader with impeccable character. There's also the little matter of his "vetting" for the NSA and DDNI posts. While no background check is completely fool-proof, it is doubtful that Hayden would have been nominated as Negroponte's deputy if there was any evidence of past misconduct. Ditto for his selection for the CIA post.
My message to militarycorruption.com is simple: put up or shut up. You've floated a scandalous accusation against one of the nation's top intelligence officials--a charge that could potentially end his career. Offer more substantial proof, or drop the story and apologize to General Hayden. Publish copies of the Furlongs' divorce filings and other relevant, public documents. Tell us more about Major Furlong, and under what circumstances he left the Air Force. Tell us about the legal actions that forced him to remove those nude photos of his wife from the internet, and what impact--if any--it had on his military career. And, most importantly, make Furlong available for interviews with other bloggers and journalists.
As it stands, this "story" stinks to high heaven--salicious charges, but little in the way of hard evidence to back them up. But most media types never let the "facts" get in the way of advancing their agenda, and I'm sure they'd welcome the opportunity to "slime" General Hayden. I'm willing to bet $100 that both the NYT and WaPo have reporters on their way to Texas, in search of the mysterious Major Furlong.
In a 2004 posting at militarycorruption.com about this alleged affair, Furlong is identified as a "retired" major, indicating that he served long enough to qualify for a pension. However, there are still lots of questions behind his allegations--questions that deserve answers.