Former NSA Director Jokes About Putting Snowden On A 'Kill List,' Says He 'Hopes' NSA Is Involved In Targeted Killings

from the Elmer-FUD-declares-it-'HUMAN-SEASON' dept

Former NSA director Michael Hayden may be a sociopath. Actually, his behavior (and the NSA in general) is slightly more aligned with Antisocial Personality Disorder, defined as such:

Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal.

So far, compliant courts, lax and compliant oversight and secret interpretations of the law have made sure Hayden’s actions never strayed into “criminal” territory during his tenure at the NSA. Now that he’s no longer in charge (but still relevant!), his mouth is running overtime.

In a panel discussion about cybersecurity hosted by the Washington Post, Hayden attempted to make a lighthearted joke about killing someone.

Hayden noted that Snowden has been nominated for a European human rights award.

“I must admit, in my darker moment over the past several months, I’d also thought of nominating Mr. Snowden, but it was for a different list”

This list would be the one where the government decides you need to die. Just a little dark humor, certainly not completely inappropriate, given Hayden’s limited powers as the former head of the NSA. Of course, the head of the House Intelligence Committee couldn’t help but chime in and make it totally inappropriate.

The audience laughed, and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was also on the panel, responded, “I can help you with that.”

Hilarity ensued, as they say. Yes, Mike Rogers, the man who has transformed himself into Chief Flack and Shill for the NSA during his tenure as the head of House Intelligence Committee, had to try and top it, and now comes out looking even more venal and misanthropic than usual.

Hayden followed up this “punchline” to offer even more approval of government-ordained killing.

Michael Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency, defended the government’s use of targeted killings on Thursday.

“Yes, we do targeted killings, and I certainly hope they make full use of the capacities of the National Security Agency when we do that…”

Hayden made the comment in response to a question from the audience about an investigation by journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill into the NSA’s alleged role in assassinations.

Fantastic. Hayden pointed out that the US government doesn’t do assassinations (let’s see what Greenwald’s investigation turns up, shall we?), but is perfectly entitled to do “targeted killings” because the nation is “at war.” Interesting justification, seeing as the nation has been “at war” with both drugs and terrorism for years now, which means that targeted killings have been and will continue to be “fully justified” for as long as those “battles” rage. These “wars” have already been used to excuse all sorts of behavior US citizens object to, like mass domestic surveillance and inland “border” checkpoints.

As for “targeted,” the bodies of dozens of civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan would beg to differ. Except they can’t.

So, while the leaks keep leaking on and documents keep being pried from the grasp of government agencies by non-governmental agencies actually interested in protecting Americans’ rights, the justifications are wearing thinner and thinner.

And if Hayden’s statements are indicative of the mindset of those in the upper echelon of US intelligence, it’s more than simply chilling. It’s horrifying.

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Comments on “Former NSA Director Jokes About Putting Snowden On A 'Kill List,' Says He 'Hopes' NSA Is Involved In Targeted Killings”

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72 Comments
Rikuo (profile) says:

If Emperor Palpatine were real, about the only differences he’d notice between the USA and when his own Galactic Empire was just founded would be
1) There is still the sham of electing a head of government
2) There is no Death Star
3) The President doesn’t have magical powers
4) The army isn’t made up of clones
…and that’s about it. Both are now autocratic regimes, both have extremely influential people who think nothing of the government assassinating people, and any and all critics expect to have a bad day when meeting law enforcement officers.

Ninja (profile) says:

From early Silk Road articles it goes from 80k to 300k to kill a person. I propose a kickstarter campaign to raise funds to do that with a few morons in the Govt (and out of it just for the heck of it). Since we don’t mind if the deaths are clean or not we can go for a super discount and have it for 150k. No really, the world will be a better place after some are removed from power and others shut up. /darkhumor

How about that for some dark humor? Should I expect the NSA knocking on my door “because terrorism”?

Brazenly anonymous says:

Re: Re: Response to: Ninja on Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 10:41am

Even if there was no existing way to prosecute such an exchange (aiding and abetting, accessory, conspiracy to commit, money laundering), laws would immediately crop up, hopefully targeted specifically to the scenario to defeat it, but potentially much broader and highly abuse-able.

Further, this exchange would be granted quite a lot of power without any real oversight. There would be nothing to stop it from being used as a political tool by the wealthy to eliminate any rivals they have. In the proposed system, wealth would actually wield an even greater influence over politics than it does Today.

Finally, the system works from the assumption that assassination plots would be overwhelmingly successful. A more likely occurrence would be the expansion of organizations dedicated to protecting political persons.

Scote (profile) says:

AFIK “Antisocial Personality Disorder” and sociopath are pretty much the same thing.

Because the diagnostic handbook is based more on symptoms and behavior rather than the underlying or organic disease, sociopathy isn’t even in there, its just too hard to diagnose if the person isn’t actively doing anti-social stuff like killing and torturing animals (callously firing employees and raiding their pension fund is *expected* of CEOs, on the other hand). Instead, they have only the symptomatic version of it as “Antisocial Personality Disorder”

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

exactly…

dog damn this makes me sick: our “leaders”, our “best and brightest”, our moral “superiors” joke about MURDERING the ONLY PEOPLE WITH HONOR in this whole clusterfuck, with nary a HINT of ‘due process’…

don’t the puppetmasters understand: you have BROKEN the social compact, NOW you are constantly rubbing our noses in the fact that there is no LEGAL COMPACT any longer… which means NOT ONLY are the power elite allowed to ignore any/all laws they find inconvenient; now WE CAN TOO ! ! !

don’t they consider that it will not end well for the 1% when the 99% turn the tables on them ? ? ?

its official: all deals are off, and the only law is the ‘law of the jungle’; when the sheeple act on that, it will be an ‘oh shit’ moment for our puppetmasters…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy
eof

Anonymous Coward says:

there have been people, even kids, that have said far, far less bad comments than this, all in ‘fun’ and found themselves targeted by law enforcement, arrested, thrown into jail, then tried and sentenced to more time in jail. in some cases involving kids, they have been arrested and banned from school just for having a pen or some other inoffensive weapon! and this jackass, a former head of the NSA and CIA, organisations you would think had trustworthy people at the helm, makes a comment about having someone killed! shame he doesn’t get a taste of the treatment he would like dished out, not just to Snowden, but to anyone else HE thinks deserves it! and we’re told to ‘just trust them( the security agencies)’! i dont think so!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Fantastic. Hayden pointed out that the US government doesn’t do assassinations (let’s see what Greenwald’s investigation turns up, shall we?), but is perfectly entitled to do “targeted killings” because the nation is “at war.”

I’m pretty sure if the tough decisions of war were left to lily-livered, Nancyboys like you- Bin Laden would be relaxing on his porch, smoking his hookah and plotting to kill more innocent people.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Are you really that stupid? You don’t see a problem with the government doing extra-judicial killings, with no courts involved?
bin Laden, I can excuse, since all the evidence I’ve seen points to him being behind 9/11. Sure, send SEALS after him.
However, there have been killings of US citizens. One of them was a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD boy, who was unarmed and not a threat to anyone around him.
The problem that is obvious to everyone but you is that a government that feels it can just up and kill someone is a terrifying entity, since what’s to stop it from killing you because it believes you’re a terrorist? Even if you’re not, their intel is wrong, well, you’re still dead. You can’t fix that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

” since all the evidence I’ve seen points to him being behind 9/11″ please do link some of this evidence as the US and its agencies have yet to find any at ALL that bin laden had anything to do with 911..in fact he denied involvement..which is strange for a terrorist who would fall over themselves to claim responsibility for the biggest terror event in History.The rest of your comment is spot on. I await your evidence links……..

Brazenly anonymous says:

Re: Re:

The seal team should have been sent to arrest Bin Laden so he could stand trial at international court. Deliberately setting out to kill him would have been against international law. Whether he was shot while resisting arrest or was shot as the primary objective of the mission is a point of contention that actually has valid legal ramifications.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:

Uh, Brazenly, it was much more complex than that.

The SEALs had to sneak into Pakistan, an allegedly friendly nation, kill Bin Laden, and get back out again, without letting our good buddies know about it.

Wanna know why?

Pakistan, an allegedly friendly nation, had been SHELTERING bin Laden for years.

So how the hell do you comply with international law in that situation? Enquiring minds want to know.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So how the hell do you comply with international law in that situation

Ummm…. maybe by complying with international law?

Although I’m thinking that what you’re really asking is “how can the US do whatever it wants, wherever it wants, whenever it wants, while complying with international law?” The answer to that is it can’t. And that’s a good thing.

Crusty the Ex-Clown says:

Osama bin Laden

Anonymous Coward said:

Fantastic. Hayden pointed out that the US government doesn’t do assassinations (let’s see what Greenwald’s investigation turns up, shall we?), but is perfectly entitled to do “targeted killings” because the nation is “at war.”

I’m pretty sure if the tough decisions of war were left to lily-livered, Nancyboys like you- Bin Laden would be relaxing on his porch, smoking his hookah and plotting to kill more innocent people.

Hmmm….who got bin Laden killed? Wasn’t it Obama? Surely not Bush. Thus, Bush & Co. must be lily-liveried Nancyboys. Not a nice way to speak of an ex-president, even if it is true.

On another note, I suspect the ghost of Osama bin Laden loves Michael Hayden, who embodies proof that America has lost its moral compass since the 9/11 attacks. The NSA overreaches can destroy democracy much more effectively than al Qaeda ever could.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Osama bin Laden

Ummm, the Bush administration tried to kill him at Tora Bora. That administration failed but not because they were pussies, but because they were inept. Though, the CIA operation to find and kill that bearded shitbag began under Bush. Obama furthered it and had the nuts to pull the trigger.

Brazilian Guy says:

Re: Re: Osama bin Laden

Well, in the ending of the 2001 movie Swordfish, with John Travolta, Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman, after escaping with the money, Travolta’s characther assassinates generic Bin Laden.

The movie release date was June 8, 2001, and August 17 in Brazil. I saw the movie in the weekend before the september 11th attacks.

So, if friggin Hollywood was already declaring him more or less a fair game, you can bet the CIA was already trying to kill Bin Laden way before, back on the Clinton administration.

Anonymous Coward says:

Death penalty

The USA is one of the countries which still have not abolished the death penalty. When you have a government which feels it is a valid thing to kill defenseless people in some situations, is it surprising that some members of the government believe killing the government’s opponents could be justified?

Anonymous Coward says:

The problem with pacifists like you is that you cannot admit the world is an ugly place and sometimes killing a person is the best solution. You are talking about that shitbag Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. The father had it coming, I think most would agree. The kid? Who knows? It seems that he wasn’t the target,but was sitting next to the guy who was. That’s the breaks. Perhaps if his family gave a shit about him or his safety they wouldn’t have surrounded him with operatives and friends of al Queda. But they didn’t and now he’s dead.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You are a sick individual. You should seek serious help. Like, immediately.

The problem with pacifists like you is that you cannot admit the world is an ugly place and sometimes killing a person is the best solution.

Did anyone argue otherwise? Doesn’t seem like it. Good luck with your strawmen.

But, bigger question: who gets to decide? Do you think it’s okay to assume that Hayden and Rogers get to decide to put Snowden on a targeted killing list?

What about you? You seem like a perfectly despicable human being. You’ve admitted that the world is an ugly place — and your comments perfectly capture that point. How would you feel if I decided that you should be on the “targeted kill list”? It seems like it would make the world a better place, so let’s do that, shall we?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

But, bigger question: who gets to decide? Do you think it’s okay to assume that Hayden and Rogers get to decide to put Snowden on a targeted killing list?

Except it was a joke. Does anyone other than you and the idiot who wrote the article it was anything other than a tasteless joke? I don’t recall any announcements about putting people on that list. And I’m pretty sure many of the people who caught a Hellfire missle in their rearview mirror didn’t get a public announcement.

What about you? You seem like a perfectly despicable human being. You’ve admitted that the world is an ugly place — and your comments perfectly capture that point. How would you feel if I decided that you should be on the “targeted kill list”? It seems like it would make the world a better place, so let’s do that, shall we?

Well, I’m not a terrorist and if I knew any- I wouldn’t be hanging out with them smoking hashish and eating goat stew at the corner cafe. Nor would I drive in their cars with them. You can snivel all you want and wring your hands but most of the guys who are targeted are targeted for good reason. Don’t worry, Snowden is not on it and will never be…. no matter what Techdirt’s Chicken Little leads you to believe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, I’m not a terrorist

According to this administration, perhaps. But what about the next one? Thing is, when the President gets to decide who is and who is not a terrorist… you might not think you’re one until they decide you are.

I wouldn’t be hanging out with them smoking hashish and eating goat stew at the corner cafe.

Talk about a clueless, ignorant, racist asshole… holy fuck.

You can snivel all you want and wring your hands but most of the guys who are targeted are targeted for good reason

Says you. But, again, just wait until someone in power thinks you should be on that list. Your blind patriotism is kind of funny. Shouldn’t you support things guaranteed by the Constitution like due process? Or is that too un-American for a die-hard asshole like yourself?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Well, I’m not a terrorist”

According to this administration, perhaps. But what about the next one? Thing is, when the President gets to decide who is and who is not a terrorist… you might not think you’re one until they decide you are.

I’ve never done anything that anyone could ever make a credible case to declare me a terrorist.

“I wouldn’t be hanging out with them smoking hashish and eating goat stew at the corner cafe.”

Talk about a clueless, ignorant, racist asshole… holy fuck.

Would you say the same thing if I talked about the French drinking red wine and smoking Gauloises cigarettes? Or Germans eating bratwurst and drinking beer? Have you ever been in that part of the world? I have.

“You can snivel all you want and wring your hands but most of the guys who are targeted are targeted for good reason”

Says you. But, again, just wait until someone in power thinks you should be on that list. Your blind patriotism is kind of funny. Shouldn’t you support things guaranteed by the Constitution like due process? Or is that too un-American for a die-hard asshole like yourself?

Enemy combatants on foreign soil are a different matter entirely. It’s hard for me to believe you’d defend a piece of human garbage like al-Awaki with the 4th Amendment. It doesn’t apply.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Enemy combatants on foreign soil are a different matter entirely.

The argument isn’t about enemy combatants. It’s about civilian casualties. How many are acceptable in war? None. Period.

If you think that makes me a pacifist, I’d have to point out that I do exercise my 2nd Amendment rights quite often to dissuade others of that notion, as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think the US is at war with pretty much everyone else on this planet for some time now.

Let be clarify that, I think the US “government” (non-living entity) is at war with pretty much everyone else on this planet. In addition to this, they also have some sort of delusional disorder, most likely prosecutory delusion, mixed in with paranoia. And I am afraid to say that this is all resulted from the grandiose delusion that US have.

Yes, if US is a real entity, it’s one really, really sick puppy…

That One Guy (profile) says:

So, about that 'trial'...

For those that said Snowden should just come back to the US, to face the ‘fair and unbiased’ trial that all people accused of crimes are supposed to be guaranteed, with three different, highly placed people ‘joking’ about putting Snowden on a kill list, and seeing nothing wrong about such ‘jokes’, still think that would be a good idea?

Anonymous Coward says:

The NSA should be doing their damnest to see no harm comes to Snowden rather than making jokes (if it is a joke) about how his demise might come about.

Snowden quite some time ago figured out this was a possibility and set up a deadman switch should harm come to him. I’ve been figuring some country that could benefit from his death would off him in hopes it would trigger the deadman switch.

Some time ago he put out all the data encrypted but without the encryption key. The encryption key is the deadman. He dies, it gets released and what we have been receiving from Greenwald becomes the least of the NSAs worries. Greenwald’s articles are embarrassing for them but they aren’t really releasing data that could get people killed. In an AMA on reddit they mentioned that all the data they are releasing for publication is going through the administration. Of course the administration doesn’t want any of this out there but it is not like they don’t have prior warning it’s coming. According to Greenwald, sometimes they obey the request not to publish, sometimes they ignore it. But the key here is that if it could result in harm or death to someone, say like a secret agent or spy then it doesn’t get published.

Releasing the deadman switch eliminates that protection.

Dave (profile) says:

I sort of hope the US government is stupid enough to try a capture or killing in Russia. They will likely get caught in the attempt (the ex-KGB guys are a whole lot sharper than ours). Russia will have a field day with the ensuing trials. In addition, the Russians would be perfectly justified in declaring the attempts as acts of war. Good luck, folks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I sort of hope the US government is stupid enough to try a capture or killing in Russia. They will likely get caught in the attempt (the ex-KGB guys are a whole lot sharper than ours). Russia will have a field day with the ensuing trials. In addition, the Russians would be perfectly justified in declaring the attempts as acts of war. Good luck, folks.

Maybe we’ll remind them of this, Pollyanna:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Markov

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