Bush counterterrorism adviser set to join staff of top war critic
A counterterrorism adviser to President Bush is leaving the White House to join the staff of a prominentDemocraticsenatorgearingup to investigate the administration’s war policies.
A Senate source said Todd M. Hinnen, a director for combating terrorism on the staff of the president’s National Security Council (NSC), will become the chief counsel for Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mr. Biden has announced that he is running for president and is planning a series of committee inquiries. Some Republicans reacted to word of Mr. Hinnen’s move by wondering whether he will go from Bush adviser to Bush inquisitor.
“Once again, people on the Bush White House staff turn on him while our soldiers and Marines fight to protect the rest of us,” a Republican staffer said.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Biden did not return a phone message or e-mail. Mr. Hinnen did not return a phone message.
Gordon Johndroe, NSC spokesman, said Mr. Hinnen was a career prosecutor at the Justice Department who completed an 18- month detail to the White House.
“I think this is a career prosecutor who serves the government well whether in the executive or the legislative branch and who had done an excellent job here at the White House and will continue to serve the American people the rest of his career in government,” Mr. Johndroe said.
Some key NSC staffers have left Mr. Bush’s staff and worked for his opponents.
Most notably was Richard A. Clarke, a top adviser on counterterrorism. Mr. Clarke left after he failed to win the post of deputy secretary of homeland security. He joined the 2004 presidential cam- paign of Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, and wrote a book critical of Mr. Bush.
Before that, Rand Beers left the Bush NSC staff and served as Mr. Kerry’s chief campaign adviser on national security.
Republicans have contrasted the way Mr. Bush handled his presidential transition compared with his predecessor. The Clinton administration fired all U.S. attorneys and tried to ferret out Republican loyalists, right down to the White House Travel Office. The Bush administration, on the other hand, kept on several senior Clinton advisers.
Mr. Bush retained George J. Tenet, President Clinton’s CIA director. Mr. Tenet resigned in 2004, and has written a book that is expected to be critical of Mr. Bush. The CIA’s Publication Review Board has been reviewing the manuscript since October. The CIA sent portions to the White House for its review. A CIA spokesman said the review focuses on the deletion of any classified material and does not censor criticism.
Last month, Flynt Leverett, a former CIA analyst who worked on the NSC before leaving in 2003, accused the White House and CIA of censoring for no good reason an opinion article written for the New York Times.