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What's Hayden Hidin'?

By       Message Ray McGovern     Permalink
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Oddly, Mukasey is on record as saying that water boarding would be torture if applied to him.  And National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell told Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker magazine, "Whether it is torture by anybody else's definition, for me it would be torture."

McConnell then let the cat out of Mukasey's bag, saying, "If it is ever determined to be torture, there will be a huge penalty to be paid for anyone engaging in it."  It is a safe bet that this would be an extreme embarrassment, at least, for anyone in charge of an agency engaged in torture.  Small wonder that Hayden has now summoned the chutzpah to warn the incoming president against launching an investigation into such matters.

Former CIA head George "we-do-not-torture" Tenet who—with the president's Feb. 7, 2002 executive order in hand—was responsible for implementing torture policies, has also evidenced some unease regarding the possibility that he might be held to account for taking liberties with national and international law.  Tenet included these telling sentences in his memoir:

"We were asking for and we would be given as many authorities as CIA ever had.  Things could blow up.  People, me among them, could end up spending some of the worst days of our lives justifying before congressional overseers our new freedom to act." (At the Center of the Storm, p. 177-178)

Protesting Too Much

As the revelations piled up, Hayden again went front and center defending water boarding and offering pitiable excuses for the destruction of tapes of the interrogation of high-value detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

On Fox News last June, for example, Hayden insisted that after 9/11, "it was the collective judgment of the American government that these techniques would be appropriate and lawful," including water boarding, which he referred to as a "high-end interrogation technique."  Hayden protested, "Now, if you ask me was it lawful, the answer is absolutely."

He went on to explain, "Literally thousands of Americans" have been water boarded in training, and suggested that this experience provided "a body of knowledge as to what the transient and permanent effects would be."  Hayden made it clear that he was prepared to instruct his torturers to water board again, if the president ordered it.

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Never mind that all those folks water boarded in training knew it would stop as soon as they cried Uncle; never mind that the "technique" is among the most iconic and notorious forms of torture, for which American officers as well as Japanese and Germans have been prosecuted and convicted; never mind Hayden's dubious claims that valuable intelligence has been gotten through water boarding.

And never mind the crystal-clear observation made on Sept. 6, 2006 by Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, head of U.S. Army intelligence: "No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices.  I think history tells us that.  I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that."

Chalk it up to my bias—and my experience as an Army intelligence officer—but I'll take Kimmons' word over any blue-suited desk jockey—no matter how many stars on the shoulder of the latter.

Sanctimonious Sam

What brings up Cicero's outrage again is the aura of sanctity with which Michael Hayden has attempted to envelop himself.  His blind fealty in implementing and then defending the administration's defiance of the law on eavesdropping made him well qualified, in the administration's eyes, for the job of CIA director.  And he gave every evidence of eagerness to be in charge of water boarding and other "high-end" interrogation techniques.

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Hayden likes to brag about his moral training and Catholic credentials.  At his nomination hearing, for example, he noted that he was the beneficiary of 18 years of Catholic education.  That set me to counting my own years of Catholic education—only 17.  Seems I missed the course on "Ethical High-End Interrogation Techniques."

The sooner Hayden is gone the better.  I fully expect him to join the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) channels as "expert commentator," and to warm some seats on defense-industry corporate boards.  As the President-elect was quick to see, Hayden's credentials appear much better suited for that kind of work.
Quousque, tandem, abutere, Hayden, patientia nostra!

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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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