WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that he supports the nomination of a military general as director of central intelligence and added that the Pentagon is not trying to take more control of intelligence matters.
''There's no power play taking place in Washington," Rumsfeld told Pentagon reporters, calling talk of bureaucratic turf fights between civilian intelligence agencies and military leaders ''theoretical conspiracies."
President Bush's selection of Air Force General Michael V. Hayden to head the Central Intelligence Agency has raised questions from Republicans and Democrats in Congress over his ability to be independent from the military establishment, as well as his ties to the domestic spying program.
Rumsfeld said that military officers have led the spy agency in the past and that this would pose no conflict with the Pentagon. Hayden, who now is deputy director of national intelligence, formerly headed the National Security Agency and is a 37-year Air Force veteran.
Some members of Congress, voicing concern about having a military person in charge of the civilian CIA, have suggested that Hayden resign his commission.
Rumsfeld offered strong praise for Hayden. ''He's an intelligence professional, is what he is," Rumsfeld said. ''He did not come up through the operational chain in the Department of Defense and then at the last minute slide over into the intelligence business. He's a person who has had assignment after assignment after assignment in the intelligence business."
Rumsfeld did acknowledge that he and Hayden had taken different positions on whether to move the National Security Agency from the Defense Department's control to the purview of the national intelligence director, John Negroponte. Hayden thought it should be moved, and Rumsfeld said he did not. Bush ultimately decided not to move it.
On another matter, Rumsfeld urged Congress to pass an emergency spending bill that contains $65 billion for war-related expenses. He referred specifically to the House having cut from the spending measure about $760 million that the Pentagon says it needs for training Iraqi and Afghan forces.