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Gen. Michael "No Probable Cause" Hayden

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Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the NSA.
Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the NSA.
(image by Wikipedia)


Barring a last-minute frantic call from the White House, CBS's "Face the Nation" will interview whistleblowers Thomas Drake (ex-senior executive at the National Security Agency) and Jesselyn Radack (ex-ethics adviser at the Justice Department). Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA and CIA and now is a chief NSA defender on CNN and Fox News, will also be interviewed this Sunday.

It was a high privilege for me to join Drake, Radack and FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley on a visit to Edward Snowden in Russia on Oct. 9. Never have I been in the company of persons who are such incorruptible straight-arrow patriots. Not so, sadly, Michael Hayden.

Given how these network interviews go, however, Hayden will probably be introduced as the patriot he isn't. Here is a more fact-based introduction that I would urge the moderator, CBS's Major Garrett, to use:

"Let me also welcome former Gen. Michael Hayden. Gen. Hayden was the first director of NSA to violate his oath to the U.S. Constitution by acquiescing in the Bush administration's order to violate the Fourth Amendment, which, until then, had served as the 'First Commandment' at NSA.

"On May 8, 2006, former NSA Director Adm. Bobby Ray Inman stated publicly that what Hayden did was in clear violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Another former NSA director, Army Gen. William Odom, told an interviewer on Jan. 4, 2006, that Hayden 'should have been court-martialed.'

"This sad reality was known to CBS and our mainstream media colleagues before Hayden was confirmed as CIA director on May 18, 2006, but we were successful in deep-sixing it, keeping it out of the public debate.

"We also are grateful to both the Bush and the Obama administrations for making it possible to have Gen. Hayden with us in the studio here today rather than having to speak with him via Skype from a federal prison where he assuredly belongs for his eavesdropping crimes at NSA. Hayden and the enabling giant telecoms escaped accountability via the Bush-pushed 2006 law holding all harmless for these violations of law.

"As for President Obama, had he not decided to 'look forward and not backward' and thus avoid prosecuting Bush administration criminals, Hayden might be locked away today for crimes against the Constitution and international law. As CIA director, he was a staunch defender of 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' including waterboarding.

"Gen. Hayden also has been one of the harshest critics of Edward Snowden, hinting broadly that Snowden should be put on the President's Kill List, a motion that was immediately seconded by House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers. So, our thanks to Presidents Bush and Obama for enabling Gen. Hayden's presence here today, and thanks also for the rest of you for being here this morning."

Less Forthcoming

My guess is that Garrett's actual introduction will be a lot less forthright -- and he will then give Hayden plenty of space to hurl as many stones at Edward Snowden as Hayden wishes, as Hayden did last July when he was writing as a "CNN Terrorism Analyst."

Hayden lumped Snowden together with despicable characters like CIA's Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen of the FBI and others who spied for the U.S.S.R. Hayden threw in Revolutionary War turncoat Benedict Arnold for good measure.

Hayden disparaged Pvt. Bradley Manning, too, for leaking evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then, Hayden added, "Snowden is in a class by himself." But it is Michael Hayden who is truly in a class by himself.

Hayden was the first NSA director to betray the country's trust by ordering wholesale violation of what was once the First Commandment at NSA: "Thou Shalt Not Eavesdrop on Americans Without a Court Warrant." Not to mention playing fast and loose with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

While Hayden has implicitly offered a second-grader kind of excuse for his law-breaking -- that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "made me do it" -- that does not let Hayden off the hook. Hayden also lectured a press conference on Jan. 23, 2006, about his detailed knowledge of the Fourth Amendment, insisting that it does not require a showing of "probable cause" before a warrant is issued for searches and seizures.

Given Hayden's ignorance of this important constraint against government abuse, I have found it helpful to read the one-sentence Fourth Amendment during TV and radio interviews to provide necessary context against which viewers/listeners can gauge how the revelations about NSA operations comport, or do not, with the strictures in the amendment. Thankfully, the language is pretty straightforward and specific:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Extraordinary Criticism

Hayden's cavalier attitude toward ignoring the rights of American citizens even prompted passionate disapproval from two of Hayden's predecessors who are not normally given to criticizing the performance of their successors. Yet, former NSA directors Odom and Inman spoke out strongly after the revelations in the Dec. 16, 2005 New York Times article, "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts," by journalists James Risen and Eric Lichtblau.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 

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Excellent article and extremely well written. &nbs... by Sam Olivier on Sunday, Dec 29, 2013 at 2:54:20 AM
Great article, Ray, from a great American 'truth-t... by Alan MacDonald on Sunday, Dec 29, 2013 at 12:45:26 PM