Posted tagged ‘michael hayden’

Smooth Words, Not Necessarily Sincere Words

November 17, 2014

Former General Michael Hayden and former Director of the NSA is making the rounds of talk shows. He’s articulate and comes across as a considered voice in the midst of strong hawk and dove messages. It pays, however, to listen closely for he tends to slip in hawkish opinions like sliding a knife between another persons ribs. Hmmm.

General Hayden is now a favorite for talk shows featuring ISIS commentary.  He delighted in discussing the situation the US finds itself in Syria.   US perspective sees ISIS is the greatest enemy. Next would be the pursuit of forces loyal to Assad. The most preferred fight group is the Kurdish insurgents. Interestingly, General Hayden points out that Turkey sees this preference in the opposite order.

Hayden sighs and says if the US had acted sooner, it could have had more options. Hmmm. What does he mean?

Hayden has just taken a swipe at President Obama’s decision to not arm Syrian insurgents. The President maintained that the overall situation was so volatile it was difficult to separate insurgents who might be viewed reasonable from the likes of ISIS.

Hayden muttered the disclaimer “if there were any insurgents we could have worked with” after having boldly intimated the President should have acted sooner.

Life is full of those situations where if X had happened, our strategy Y would have been perfect. In reality, X could have happened but did not happen, and it turns out that in that case Y is a very poor option.

Consider the plan to train and equip the Iraqi military. After years of training and billions of dollars in equipment, when ISIS advanced on their Western positions, the otherwise disgruntle Army units deserted and fled… leaving the expensive US supplied equipment behind. ISIS, in their own way I’m sure is thanking the US for leaving them so much useful equipment. Hmmm.

Senator John McCain has also long been a proponent of picking the insurgent factions “we can work with”. McCain never loses an opportunity to criticize President Obama for not following McCain’s recommendations. How did McCain get so smart?

Hayden and McCain represent one approach to foreign policy. Punch the other guy in the nose first and teach him whose boss. President Obama favors a quite different approach which emphasizes the lack of clarity most foreign situations possess. As events develop, much more is learned. As learning increases, foreign policy tactics can be refined.

The Iraq invasion and occupation should be proof enough that act first, think later does not produce the best results.

Another Apologist

June 2, 2011

Michael Hayden, the former NSA Director, and most recently CIA chief, has stood up to be counted on the value of enhanced interrogation.  He did so in the June 2nd edition of the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page.  Why he feels it necessary to discuss an area where silence is the norm is hard to say.  One is left, however, with the inescapable feeling that those who participated in this dark phase of US policy don’t want public opinion to settle on the side opposite them.

Hayden had a distinguished career in the air force, and then served as CIA Director until the end of the Bush Administration.  He inherited the enhanced interrogation methods as well as all the post 9/11 world mess.  They did not happen as a result of his watch.

So, it is a bit surprising that Hayden wants to get down in the gutter now.  The efficacy of the US enhanced interrogation methods is pretty much unprovable.  That is the nature of intelligence gathering.  It is never absolutely certain what any source has said is true or even close to true.  Why Hayden would want to claim techniques banned by international treaties have a place in the US procedures manual is mind bending.

Like most of the George W Bush Administration who have already spoken out, the easiest explanation is Hayden also wants to rewrite history.

Hayden now joins a very special group.  Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Jonathan Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Laura Bush, and at times, even “W” himself have written books and/or issuing press releases.  They present history quite differently from fact.

Enhanced interrogation methods were (are) wrong even if they were to produce actionable results.  There is an aspect of governance called “tone at the top”.  If the tone at the top treats some people without respect for their humanity, their organization will take this as a signal that this attitude can be used widely.  Bad things happen even when no officially sanctioned then.

The entire Bush Administration projected this attitude.  The Bush subordinates were above questioning. From the unnecessary (if not illegal) invasion and occupation of Iraq to the wanton disregard for the proper use of regulatory controls (and the subsequent financial sector melt down), “W’s” team got it wrong every time.

Director Hayden is smart enough to know this and would have done himself a favor had he kept his writing skills to a memoir much later in life.

Three Blind Mice

September 19, 2009

Former CIA leaders, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, and George Tenet have sent a letter to President Obama asking him to reverse Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to investigate interrogation abuses allegedly committed by CIA personnel. (Joining these three were also former Directors John Deutch, James Woolsey, William Webster, and James Schlesinger.) These seven have expressed concern that the investigation will discourage CIA operatives from doing their job in the future. So I guess torture is ok if you are simply trying to do your job.

From an organizational morale perspective, these former CIA Directors have a legitimate point. Their subordinates are intentional put in the difficult position of gathering intelligence where the rules of the road are not always clear or at a minimum, vary greatly from what US law allows. In these post 9/11 suspected abuses, the CIA had, to its credit, consistently sought clarification from the Administration on what they could legally do. Thanks to patriotic chicken hawks like Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, and Jonathan Yoo, the CIA got the nod to stray way over the line. So there is a certain logic to the genesis of this letter.

Pursuing CIA operatives who may have tortured is pursuing the symptoms and not the disease. The investigation and prosecution should focus upon Goss, Tenet, and Hayden, and those who requested, formulated, or promoted enhanced interrogation. Waterboarding and violations of the Geneva Convention can not be justified as legal by any Executive Branch directive, and Goss, Tenet, and Hayden should have been expected to know this.

So for Goss, Tenet, and Hayden to sign this letter and claim the basis as hurting morale, we are seeing disingenuous words at their best, These three blind mice are really concerned about any investigation and the possibility of being included in the sweep themselves.