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Outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden is going around town telling folks he has warned President-elect Barack Obama "personally and forcefully" that if Obama authorizes an investigation into controversial activities like water boarding, "no one in Langley will ever take a risk again."
Upon learning this from what we former intelligence officers used to call an "A-1 source" (completely reliable with excellent access to the information), the thought that came to me in the face of such chutzpah was from Cicero's livid oration against the Roman usurper Cataline: "Quousque, tandem, abutere, Catalina, patientia nostra!" — or "How long, at last, O Cataline, will you abuse our patience!"
Cicero had had enough. And so, apparently, has Obama, who has been confirmed once again of the wisdom of his vote against Hayden's becoming CIA director. It was striking that Obama did not even mention Hayden on Jan. 9, when the president-elect formally named Leon Panetta as his choice to run the CIA and Dennis Blair to be director of national intelligence.
Obama did announce that Mike McConnell, whom Blair will replace after he is confirmed, has been given a sinecure/consolation prize—a seat on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Hayden, a former Air Force general, should be given a seat in the military prison in Leavenworth (see below).
It is not only a bit cheeky, but more than a little disingenuous that Hayden should think to advise Obama "personally and forcefully" against investigating illegal activities authorized by president George W. Bush, since Hayden himself can already be described as an unindicted co-conspirator based on publicly available information. He has bragged loudly about the crimes in which he was directly involved, and has defended others, like what he has called "high-end" interrogation techniques—water boarding, for example.
Could it be clearer? "Water boarding is torture," said President-elect Obama last Sunday to George Stephanopoulos. Torture is a crime. Obama added, twice, that no one is "above the law," although also citing his "belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward."
Despite the President-elect's equivocations, it seems that President Bush and the current CIA director have a problem. And apparently Hayden's palms are sweaty enough to warrant, in his view, a thinly veiled threat.
In the outrage category, that threat/warning goes well beyond chutzpah. What an insult to my former colleagues at the CIA to suggest that they lack the integrity to fulfill their important duties in consonance with the law; to suggest that they would treat the incoming president like a substitute teacher!
"Should Have Been Court-martialed"
So spoke the late Gen. Bill Odom on Jan. 4, 2006 referring to Hayden. Odom's comment came before being interviewed by George Kenney, a former Foreign Service officer and now producer of "Electronic Politics." And President Bush "should be impeached," added Odom with equal fury.
Odom ruled out discussing during the actual interview the warrantless eavesdropping that had been revealed by the New York Times just a few weeks earlier. In a memorandum of conversation Kenney opined that Odom was so angry that he realized that if he started discussing the issue, he would not be able to control himself.
Why was Gen. Odom so angry? Because he, like all uniformed officers, took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; because he took that oath seriously; and because, as head of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988, he did his best to ensure that all employees strictly observed NSA's "First Commandment"—Thou Shalt Not Eavesdrop on Americans Without a Court Warrant.
Also disappointed was former NSA Director Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, who led NSA from 1977 to 1981, was one of the country's most highly respected senior managers of intelligence, and actually authored parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. At a public discussion at the New York Public Library on May 8, 2006, Inman took strong issue with Hayden's flouting of FISA:
"There clearly was a line in the FISA statutes which says you couldn't do this," said Inman. He went on to call specific attention to an "extra sentence put in the bill that said, 'You can't do anything that is not authorized by this bill.'" Inman spoke proudly of the earlier ethos at NSA, where "it was deeply ingrained that you operate within the law and you get the law changed if you need to."
Hayden the Martinet
In contrast, Michael Hayden, who was NSA director from 1999 to 2005, chose to salute when ordered by Vice President Dick Cheney to create and implement an aggressive NSA program skirting the strict legal restrictions of FISA. Hayden then proceeded to do the White House's bidding in conning the invertebrates posing as leaders of the Senate and House intelligence "oversight" (more accurately—"overlook") committees.