September 19, 2021

Former CIA Director: Obama Threw Us under the Bus

obama-12Michael Hayden’s recent book, Playing To The Edge, describes the strategies of America’s spy agencies and explains why certain programs needed to be implemented.  It also delves into the political, legal, defense, technical, and budget restrictions he faced during his tenure as a director of the NSA and CIA.

(This is the second of two interviews with Michael Hayden.)

One of the most powerful parts of the book is when Hayden reminds Americans that those working for him are human beings who have dealt with great burdens, many times feeling unappreciated by the public, media, Congress, and the current administration.  Hayden explained to American Thinker that many of those deployed in the military have some kind of support, but that emotional support was nearly non-existent at the CIA.  Because of this, his wife Jeanine tirelessly worked with the families, instrumental in setting up a class that explained to spouses how to live with and manage “cover.”  Even more important, at case officers’ graduations, their parents were not present, so she filled in with that responsibility, becoming a surrogate.

Support was not forthcoming for those in the intelligence community.  The book discusses how the Obama administration, which includes but is not limited to people such as John Brennan, attempted to change the legal and political landscape.  The current CIA director, Brennan, appeared to have a revisionist memory when he recently said on 60 Minutes that he had misgivings and concerns about the Enhanced Interrogation Program.  When asked, Hayden referred to the Showtime documentary Spymasters.  In it, George Tenet, Brennan’s boss, said that Brennan had never raised concerns, never expressed discomfort, and never said it should be stopped.

But more importantly, what Hayden wants to focus upon is that America should be “capturing terrorists and detaining them for interrogation.  How we get to that point is to elect another president.  This president grabs someone only if he can put them in an article III court, instead of treating them as enemy combatants.”

Where does Guantanamo Bay fall in this equation?  Hayden believes that “it is a geographic location.  I think we should have the right to detain people under the laws of armed conflict without the requirement of a criminal trial.  I am indifferent where we do that, but there will almost certainly be legal issues if terrorists are brought to the U.S.  Once that happens, the ‘Guantanamo Bar lawyers’ will begin filing all sorts of suits that they cannot file now because prisoners are not on U.S. soil.  We would be inviting decades of litigation.”

Congress and this administration have shown a betrayal of trust where the CIA is concerned, yet they have done nothing regarding Hillary Clinton’s emails.  Hayden noted, “I have not seen the emails.  But once you set up a private server, it can’t go to a happy place, because it is unprotected.  As a former director of the NSA, if a potential adversary of the U.S. had done this, I would have moved Heaven and Earth to see the information.  It was imprudent, and I cannot understand why the folks at the State Department did not say to her she could not do it.  The explanation she gives is incoherent for anyone who was in government.”

Interestingly, he does think too much material has been classified.  In the book, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius is quoted: “We journalists usually try to argue that we have carefully weighed the pros and cons and believe that the public benefit of disclosure outweighs any potential harm.  The problem is that we aren’t fully qualified to make those judgments.”

The book explains the Hayden Doctrine.  When asked about it, Hayden directly commented, “Balancing openness with the need for secrecy is a condition to be managed, not a problem to be solved.  We should lean forward as far as possible in telling our story.  If we do not do this, other people will, without being as accurate or as favorable.  We need to communicate to the broader society what we do and the reasons behind it.  Because too much information is classified, this breeds carelessness in protecting what is really secret.  But we have to be open internally as well.  I created a program ‘Email The Director.’  Something seemed to be working, because by 2008, we were only in the press because of Congress.”

Since members of Congress appear to have the attitude that “if I hear nothing, I can say I know nothing,” are they and this administration a bunch of hypocrites?  And all the more so since it appears that issues are run by the ACLU, the New York Times, and potential presidential candidates through obvious leaks?  Americans can remember how Pelosi and Rockefeller ran to the press and denied knowledge.  Yet after reading this book, it becomes clear that Hayden wanted to make Congress partners through numerous briefings.

Hayden responded to American Thinker, “I was afraid that congressional actions were creating a risk-averse environment.  The administration’s release of the interrogation memos was a betrayal of trust and fundamental dishonesty.  This was pushing good people, doing what they did out of duty rather than enthusiasm, into the bus lane.  People will close up when they think no one is covering their back.  The president pushed those memos out to protect himself politically since he accepted so many of the Bush administration policies.  I write in the book about a scene where the president got prickly with a case officer because she wanted to go back and tell people that the CIA interrogations saved lives.  Regarding Congress, I wanted them to be a part of the consensus.  That required a serious discussion with them.  That discussion never happened.  The members were too busy yelling at us.”

Anyone who reads Playing to the Edge will get an understanding of the intelligence community and the work they have accomplished.  Michael Hayden has spent the majority of his career in intelligence.  Americans should thank him for his service and consider him a true American hero who stepped up to the plate to defend the homeland.

Source: American Thinker