Former NSA Boss Hayden Says Snowden Likely To Become An Alcoholic Because He's 'Troubled' And 'Morally Arrogant'

from the funny-you-should-say-that dept

The Washington Post’s Andrea Peterson has some more incredible quotes from former NSA and CIA boss Michael Hayden, who seems to have a way of saying exactly the wrong thing if he’s trying to reassure those who are worried about excessive government surveillance. First up, he continues to attack anyone who feels otherwise. The same guy who insisted that people who were concerned about NSA surveillance were shut-ins who couldn’t get laid has apparently decided that he can determine Ed Snowden’s mental makeup from afar, despite never having spoken to the guy. He can also predict his future:

Hayden predicted a bleak future for Snowden. Describing the former NSA contractor as a “defector,” Hayden also called him “a troubled young man — morally arrogant to a tremendous degree — but a troubled young man.”

Hayden further compared Snowden’s prospects to those of defectors during the Cold War, saying, “I suspect he will end up like most of the rest of the defectors who went to the old Soviet Union: Isolated, bored, lonely, depressed — and most of them ended up alcoholics.”

Of course, Snowden didn’t defect. He was more or less forced into Russia by the US pulling his passport. And we should look at who’s throwing around claims of being “morally arrogant” here.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the talk, Hayden insisted that the intelligence community wanted to play within “the box” explaining what’s legal, and said: “you’re going to have to decide where the box is that you want your security services to work in.” Of course, when Peterson questioned him on how the public could (a) understand where the box is today in order to have that debate and (b) suggest ways to move the box, Hayden didn’t seem that interested:

When I asked how the public could tell security agencies where “the box” should be if they don’t have the details of where it is now, Hayden responded, “In a perfect world I would brief the House and Senate intelligence committees and be done with it” because the more scrutiny surveillance programs receive the harder he believes it is to do their jobs.

At this point, you get the feeling Hayden must have started to wonder how Peterson could have possibly gotten out of her “internet shut-in” basement and braved the outside world to go see him speak.

Oh and then there’s the bit where he insists that the public is actually fine with NSA snooping… just like they’re fine with targeted killings. Except, what he really meant by “the public” was “American Presidents.”

At one point, Hayden also compared NSA snooping programs to other controversial programs that he says have been accepted by the public. He pointed to targeted killing, which he says two presidents have now signed off on “with some degree of enthusiasm.”

Note to Hayden from the internet shut-in community: having a President “enthusiastically” support his own ability to authorize spying on everyone and killing people overseas is, uh, somewhat different than suggesting the public supports it.

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Comments on “Former NSA Boss Hayden Says Snowden Likely To Become An Alcoholic Because He's 'Troubled' And 'Morally Arrogant'”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Hayden also called him “a troubled young man — morally arrogant to a tremendous degree — but a troubled young man.”

“I suspect he will end up like […]: Isolated, bored, lonely, depressed — and most of them ended up alcoholics.”
No really, there’s only one obligatory mention here:

There’s only one obligatory remark for that:

Pot, meet kettle.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There’s only one obligatory remark for that:

Pot, meet kettle.

That is what I was thinking when I read it too.

I question his supposition that being isolated, lonely, bored, and depressed ends with alcoholism. While I have no scientific evidence otherwise, based on my limited experience dealing with alcoholics, it was the social aspect of drinking that led them to alcoholism, but their alcoholism turned them into isolated, bored, lonely, and depressed social outcasts. I think this is another correlation does not equal causation argument.

Anonymous Coward says:

i suppose i ought to know better, really.
to have this guy come out and say such a derogatory comment about Snowden, is absolutely disgraceful, particularly when you consider what he has done to undermine the privacy and freedom of the millions in the USA and the rest of the world. if anyone should beware of becoming anything less than a man, Hayden is one of them. what an absolute ass hole comment! and i have to ask the question, how does he know what Snowden’s state of mind is, unless he and his colleagues are still illegally taping into emails and conversations that they have no right to access!

Anonymous Coward says:

sigh…character assassination is a lost art.

They (NSA, CIA, whatever) have the means to fabricate an elaborate story of sexual deviance and/or economical malfeasance and/or much worse things. But no, they choose petty insults.

Hayden comes across (to the informed, at least) as a bumbling idiot, and the reputation of various three-letter agencies takes yet another hit. It just reinforces the point – After 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Boston bombings, and all other recent disasters – that the USA is completely incapable of handling a major crisis at the highest levels of government.

Incompetence is rampant. You people are actually lucky that the rest of the world doesn’t want to annihilate you that badly. Because, given how the country is being run, they could if they wanted to…

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Because, given how the country is being run, they could if they wanted to…

Well perhaps, except;
1/ Most countries are in little better state governmentally than the US
2/ They seem to be doing just fine at it by themselves after just the one nudge in 2001 so arguably it would be wasted effort.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And let us not forget:

3/ the US has the ability to bomb the entire Earth into a nuclear wasteland if necessary. Don’t think for a second that there’s nobody in the top ranks of command with the balls to suggest nuking the enemy if the rest of the world picked a fight with the US (M.A.D. be damned!). There’s probably a war hawk or three in the top military brass who’d love it if the US ever got a chance to use its nuclear arsenal.

Brent Ashley (profile) says:

Re: Competence

When one assesses Hayden as a bumbling idiot or the rest of the players in this and any other government operation (TSA, war on drugs, voting machines…) as incompetent, one is measuring them by the mandate specified in their job description – i.e. to serve the American public, to further the needs of the American people as a whole.

While these people are reading the relevant legislation via their secret decoder rings, they are also completely dismissing the mandate that the rest of the world is measuring them by and instead following their own agendas. And by those agendas, they are far from incompetent.

Each of these “incompetent” initiatives is extremely competent at transferring taxpayer wealth to the corporations that supply the equipment and manpower to implement the programs. Is a $100-million abandoned software project an example of incompetence? Yes, if you measure it by the stated mandate. No, if you measure it by the software company’s agenda. Is a prison system overflowing their capacity a problem? Yes if you measure it by their expressed mandate. Not at all if you forklift your skids of profits from the penitentiary-building industry.

Whenever you hear of government incompetence at levels such as this, look for the beneficiary of the “incompetence” and turn your perspective around. You will find that these are some very competent folks.

They also seem to have some amazing foresight. I have been intrigued more than once at the speed with which expensive scanners or voting machines have been ramped into production and distribution and pushed through certification following on the introduction of the legislation that enables them. It’s uncanny.

Follow the tax dollars.

The Real Michael says:

Considering the rather tremendous damage that the NSA has inflicted on both our Constitutional rights and the rapidly changing perception of our nation on the international level due to the NSA’s unwarranted spying (e.g. Brazil wanting to do away with reliance on all US tech services), who is this guy to be talking about morals? Needless to say, when your occupation consists primarily of spying on your own countrymen, you lose the moral high ground.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:


I would like to see this fool forced to speak at a townhall meeting where a lot of senators and reps have been getting heat from the people. Of course, you can’t blame these unelected bureaucrats, all they have to do is (maybe) be dragged before a committee (circus sideshow) and dodge the truth. Otherwise they are shielded and unaccountable to ‘we the people’ and we don’t know which of our reps to punish. If Hayden had to get up and give his speech at a townhall I could see him getting tarred, feathered, and carried out on a rail.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Morally arrogant

You have to understand that in Haydon’s sphere of the world, everyone is corrupt, and buyable. That means anyone who doesn’t play by his rules is an automatic loser.

That includes Congress, Presidents, and mere whistleblowers, er, ‘traitors’.

He’s just projecting what he deals with on a daily basis- bored, lonely, depressed people — and most of them alcoholics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Pulled rank

Interesting talking points, but not much substance in them:

“society must make a choice between security and liberty”

That’s a false dichotomy, spying on my kids does not make America safe. Spying on your allies does not make America safe, spying on politicians doesn’t. Spying on Haydens own 3 kids doesn’t make America safe. (And I doubt they’re happy that papa’s NSA was watching their every move and reporting back to him).

But he has accepted that he’s taking away liberty here. Which is a positive thing. How much liberty will the NSA take away next year? Does General Hayden care to tell us? Or is that another secret to be kept from Congress?

IMHO, this is the problem with putting General’s in charge. They don’t have to convince or persuade people, they can just pull rank.

He pulled rank over Congress, changed the law, lied to them, kept secrets from them and so did General Alexander, the guy who followed on from him.

Anonymous Coward says:

The real quote

Hayden has a bleak future. Describing NSA contractor Hayden “a troubled man — morally arrogant to a tremendous degree — but a troubled man.”

Hayden further compared prospects to those working for the NSA “I suspect they will end up like most of the rest of the NSA: Isolated, bored, lonely, depressed — and most of them ended up alcoholics.”

Anonymous Coward says:

“[y]ou’re going to have to get informed, and you’re going to have to decide where the box is that you want your security services to work in.” Later he added, “I guarantee it, your security services, the NSA, CIA, all they want from you is where’s the box”

This Michael Hayden character is actually Thomas Friedman in disguise, right?

Anonymous Coward says:


This is just golden:
“But he claimed the dialogue was “pushed into the public domain by advocates.” In particular, he questioned the credibility of reporting by Glenn Greenwald for the Guardian and Barton Gellman for The Post.”

But actually changing an entire society into an Orwellian nightmare is of course not advocating anything. The creators and benefactors of the surveillance state are just neutral civil servants with no hidden agendas or political affiliations at all.
A total lack of self awereness on display here.

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

Do people who retire from public life just stop paying attention to the world around them? Surely Mr. Hayden must realize that it is 2013, not 1953 – Russia is not the USSR; they have cable and McDonald’s, traffic jams and credit cards now. Mr. Snowden might become depressed at the lack of Walmarts, but isolated, lonely, depressed and alcoholic? Only if he’s rooming with Mr. Hayden.

Shon Gale (profile) says:

I am sure Hayden knows all about this from experience. But just because it happened to him doesn’t mean it will happen to everyone else.
But this does makes me more paranoid. I now have visions of Alcoholic Spy’s rummaging through my personal information at will and at random. Ever pull a prank when you were drunk?
I would trust a bunch of weed heads to protect my data more than I ever would a bunch of drunks. From now on my image of the NSA, FBI, SSS, CIA is that they are all a bunch of burnt-out drunks.
I feel so protected.

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Re:

“I am sure Hayden knows all about this from experience. But just because it happened to him doesn’t mean it will happen to everyone else.”

I think the psychology term is “projection”. And yes, it sounds like this is a good example, especially with his comments on morality.

It’s the reason Hollywood makes so many movies where the villain is an out-of-control megacorporation with leaders who will stop at nothing to achieve their evil plans and who often use excessive influence over government policy to further their agenda.

John William Nelson (profile) says:

Or because he now lives in Russia?

More likely, Mr. Snowden is likely to become an alcoholic because he now lives in Russia. And trying to hang with Russians and Ukranians in drinking alcohol can lead to alcoholism. After all, Oksana Baiul has made it clear that five Long Island Iced Teas mean nothing to a Russian or Ukrainian in the infamous “I’m Russian and therefore not drunk” defense.

And this line of reasoning is still superior to Hayden’s line of reasoning.

Sunhawk (profile) says:

Screw you, General Hayden.

“Hayden repeatedly pushed his view that American society must choose between security and liberty”

Oh, fuck you, general. Fuck. You.

First of all, no, we don’t have to “choose”. We can have both just fine, thank you.

Second, speaking as a member of “American society”, I choose liberty.

Third, what’s security for? Protecting our lives and our principles. If we don’t have liberty, then what’s the fucking point of security.

North Korea is pretty secure (especially considering their craptastic economy, leadership… everything, really). Not a lot of liberty, is there?

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