WASHINGTON – Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden will likely get to keep his four-star ranking since the Senate Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday morning to reappoint him with the rating when he moves over to the CIA.
The Senate is expected to vote this week on making Hayden the next CIA director after the Intelligence Committee approved the nomination 12-3 on Tuesday. The full Senate will get the nomination and likely agree to the four-star reappointment on a voice vote, said committee communications director John Ullyot.
The commission of four-star general does not follow an individual from job to job but only applies when the person on active duty serves in a four-star post. Placed in other positions within the administration, the generals lose their ranking unless given special consideration.
Hayden ran the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005 before becoming the deputy director of national intelligence, the No. 2 man to John Negroponte. Hayden's position as the second in charge of intelligence maintained the four-star rating. The CIA post does not have that distinction.
As head of the NSA, he was in charge of the president's terror surveillance program. The program has been criticized for listening in without warrants on phone calls between people inside the United States and suspected terrorists abroad.
Hayden has repeatedly defended the legality of the program, which so far has not seemed to hurt his nomination, though many Democrats say the program is on shaky legal footing.
Hayden had two meetings with Democratic senators on Wednesday — Tom Carper of Delaware and Max Baucus of Montana.
FOX News' Molly Hooper contributed to this report.