John McCaslin

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told a Business Executives for National Security gathering in downtown Washington that his agency's network of spies are often out in front of U.S. troops and sometimes are the first to "engage" the enemy.

"President Reagan called CIA 'the tripwire across which the forces of repression and tyranny must stumble.' The term I like to use is 'skirmish line.' We move ahead of the main body of troops; we keep our eyes both on the distant horizon and on the enemy before us; and, at times, we are the first to engage," Mr. Hayden said in remarks obtained by Inside the Beltway.

The press wasn't on hand to hear the Air Force general, who is closing in on his second anniversary (May 30) as CIA director, stress the importance of "integration" in the intelligence community, identifying as one example "the operation in the summer of 2006 that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former head of al Qaeda in Iraq. It was the merging of many sensitive data streams — from human sources, technical ops, intercepts and more — that culminated in two smart bombs gliding toward their target."

Mr. Hayden said while working "side by side with the troops in western Iraq, CIA analysts picked up insights they otherwise wouldn't have. That added dimension enabled our officers to play a key role in the engagement of Sunni tribal leaders, which was a real breakthrough in the conflict last year."

Cable 'vitriol'

The new report is titled "Fear and Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News," and today at noon in the basement level of the U.S. Capitol several members of Congress, immigration leaders and the Media Matters Action Network say they will expose "pervasive anti-immigration vitriol on cable news, as well as a series of myths that feed viewers' unfounded resentments and fears."

Attendees will include New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, California Rep. Joe Baca, and California Rep. Hilda L. Solis, all Democrats.

Vets vexed

The U.S. military veterans group Vets for Freedom is none too pleased with the "partisan gimmicks" of lawmakers who are spending the final hours before Memorial Day passing so-called "critical" legislation while U.S. soldiers and Marines require funding to continue "undeniable progress" on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the legislation cited: Congratulating the Northern Kentucky University Norse women's basketball team; honoring Arnold Palmer for his distinguished golfing career; honoring the 60th anniversary of the carving of the Crazy Horse Memorial; and expressing support for the designation of a "Frank Sinatra Day."

Third choice

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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