Democracy-minded Americans have long had ample reason to be concerned about the activities of the CIA and the broader intelligence community of which it is a part. Those concerns have taken a new turn with the Bush administration’s nomination of Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to be the spy agency’s next director.

Leaving aside the devastating consequences of the CIA’s activities on democratic and progressive governments and movements abroad, the agency has supposedly been barred from acting on the domestic scene. Under Hayden’s leadership, however, there is cause to wonder if domestic involvement might become the rule.

As director of the National Security Agency, Hayden is the very person who led the development of the Bush administration’s secret program of massive wiretapping in violation of the Fourth Amendment. When the lid was blown off the program late last year, Hayden was among its most vociferous defenders.

What’s more, at a January news conference, his repeated rejection of “probable cause” as a Fourth Amendment requirement for legal search and seizure revealed a remarkable ignorance of — or disregard for — a cornerstone of our democracy.

Though the reasons Porter Goss resigned the directorship have not been made public, it may be that he and a top aide (who has also resigned) were too close to the corruption scandals now swirling around several Republican members of Congress. Another possibility — and the two are not mutually exclusive — is that he lost in a “falling out among thieves” involving Vice President Dick Cheney and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.

Concern has also been expressed, including by members of Congress, about naming a military officer to head a “civilian” agency. Considering the growing role of the military during the Bush years, that concern may be well founded.

The bottom line, of course, is that when our country’s foreign policy is determined by the needs and wishes of the vast majority of the American people, there will be no role for a CIA. Until then, vigilance is vital to minimize the damage.

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