Former CIA, NSA Boss Says Senator Feinstein Is Too Emotional To Judge CIA Torture Fairly

from the shameful dept

We’ve written about former NSA and CIA boss Michael Hayden plenty of times around here, and the guy is practically a caricature of what you’d expect him to be. He defends the intelligence community at all costs, and is quick with baseless insults to anyone who disagrees with him, and also (laughably) seems ill-prepared to be a fortune teller. We’ve also written about California Senator, and head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, many times as well — often watching her make similarly ridiculous claims in defense of the intelligence committee. However, as we’ve seen over the last few months, the one place where she seems to draw the line is with the CIA and its torture program. Feinstein, normally a staunch defender of the intelligence community, has been battling the CIA over the release of the $40 million, 6,300 page report that shows that the CIA’s torture program (which she still refuses to call “torture”) went way beyond what was authorized, produced no useful intelligence and resulted in the CIA lying to Congress about the program.

Since the two are normally in lock-step on various issues, it’s interesting to see what happens when they differ. On Fox News over the weekend, Chris Wallace asked Hayden about the report, and Hayden pretty explicitly tossed out the ridiculous misogynistic argument that Feinstein was, effectively, too emotional to judge whether the report should be released. While he didn’t make that claim exactly, he came about as close as possible to saying it without saying it:

WALLACE: But the report says that more prisoners were abused than we had previously known and that the enhanced interrogation produced little intelligence of significance.

HAYDEN: Yes. I read an article by David Ignatius earlier this week. And he said —

WALLACE: He’s a columnist for The Washington Post.

HAYDEN: Right. He said that Senator Feinstein wanted a report so scathing that it would ensure that an un-American brutal program of detention interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.

Now, that sentence, that motivation for the report, Chris, may show deep emotional feeling on part of the senator. But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.

WALLACE: I mean, forgive me, because you and I both know Senator Feinstein. I have the highest regard for her. You’re saying you think she was emotional in these conclusions?

HAYDEN: What I’m saying is — first of all, Chris, you’re asking me about a report. I have no idea of its content. No one responsible for that report has spoken a word of this to me, to George Tenet, to Porter Goss, to anyone else that is involved in these events. But it’s very hard for me to make a judgment.

Of course, as Amy Davidson at the New Yorker notes, while the Ignatius report does suggest this as potential motivation for Feinstein, it’s actually taking a Feinstein quote completely out of context. Rather than it being the motivating factor in creating the report, it was actually Feinstein’s response to reading the completed report and arguing that its key findings should be made public. That is, rather than being emotionally motivated to create the report (as Hayden falsely claims), Feinstein realized that the report was so damning that it needed to be made public to stop future CIA torture and abuse.

And, really, can anyone explain what’s wrong with suggesting that preventing an “un-American, brutal” torture program from happening again would be a beneficial result? Is Hayden honestly arguing that the US should continue with un-American torture efforts?

Either way, the choice of words by Hayden is deliberate and obnoxious. He’s suggesting that a female Senator might be too emotionally driven and fragile to understand the “realities” of war, where people like him — people who apparently sold out their morals long ago — make important decisions like when and how to violate the Geneva conventions, torture people and to then lie to Congress about it. Call me crazy, but when it comes to stopping a “brutal” and “un-American” program of torturing people in violation of international law, a little emotion might be a good thing.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Former CIA, NSA Boss Says Senator Feinstein Is Too Emotional To Judge CIA Torture Fairly”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Ninja (profile) says:

Too emotional? Torture is not acceptable in any circumstances. The fact that it has been practiced at all is horrifying and the ones that did it or allowed it to happen should be locked in jail for life. There’s no excuse for torture. Unless, of course, you are the kind of rotten human we’ve grown to expect from those people in the intelligence community (generally speaking).


Annonimus says:

Re: Who is qualified to judge torture 'fairly'?

Leave me and mine out of this. I am a person who has several different thoughtstreams in my head (its like hearing voices but you know everyone of them is yours and you have a dialogue with yourself in your head) and one of them I call my Psycho.

This thoughtstream has no empathy and seeks stories of people in pain to laugh at them. This part of me is insulted because you have just made a comparison between my Psycho and a bunch of either incompetent idiots with no impulse control scrambling to cover their asses or overemotional brats who are letting their “feels” guide their policy making.

You see the CIA people who have been trying to keep this report on their torture program are either the people who have been doing and/or arranging the torture all this time and getting of on it and are now worried that their asses are on the line and/or their fun is going to be taken away OR they are the people who have had an overly emotional reaction to 9/11 and are now driven by a combination of guilt(both/either inaction and survivor), the desire to feel like they are in control and the need to “keep the patriots who have worked on this enhanced interrogation program out of the clutches of a misunderstanding public”.

So please don’t overgeneralize for the sake of brevity.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Who is qualified to judge torture 'fairly'?

Very little needs to be said. Torture doesn’t work. Never has. The lack of useful intelligence from it has already been covered. The people who do it are people who should not be free in a civilized society. The policymakers who support it undermine the nation’s long term credibility and moral high ground. Most of these arguments also apply to NSA bulk surveillance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And even further, he is accusing her of judging the report on a less objective basis… This guy is analyzing people and making a judgement on the content of the report based on peoples reactions? It is like reading the nametag and sponsors behind a report and discounting it based solely on that. How much less objective than that can you get?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not exactly. It sounds like he’s accusing her of something worse. He’s accusing her of purposely requesting that the report be created beforehand to be as scandalous and sensationalistic as possible based on an emotional reaction to the mere suggestion that the CIA used torture. He’s trying to imply that the report was generated with bias from when it was ordered and therefore should be discounted as an unfair representation of what occurred even before anyone else sees it.

Loki says:

Re: Re:

Agreed. As a former head of both the NSA and CIA, as someone who paints himself as a highly qualified expert on these matters, he expects me to accept he is so clueless, so out of the loop, so uninformed (and therefore implying he’s no longer trusted by anyone in either the current administration OR the intelligent community, but I bet he didn’t think that one through enough) that he has no idea what this document says?

Dude is either lying his ass off, in which case his opinions no longer have any value or meaning, or his so incompetent that his opnions no longer have any value or meaning. Either way his opinions no longer have any value or meaning.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sexist!

It may have genuinely been a case of mispeaking on the fly. But it’s not the type of phrasing most people would have done.

It absolutely reads loud and clear like a sexist statement. That’s the very first impression I got when I heard it. If that’s not what he meant to get across, that’s no better as it just demonstrates how incompetent he is at understanding what exactly he’s actually saying.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Sexist!

“But it’s not the type of phrasing most people would have done.”

I would have. Overly strong emotion and law making should not mix. When they do we get laws that do more harm then good. If I truly thought that someone was too emotional to do their job, I would say as such.

Speaking of too emotional, a lot of people are jumping on the statement saying it’s sexist. But instantly jumping to the defense just because it’s a man saying something to a woman is just as sexist. Show me something more and I’ll be with you, but one sentence does not a sexist make.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Sexist!

“It absolutely reads loud and clear like a sexist statement.”

If you are sexist to begin with it reads like a sexist statement, if he said he loves children you would imply he’s a pedophile.
The only sexists here are you and Sneeje, implying emotions are exclusive to one sex. And spare me the trope bullshit, this isn’t reddit or your internet forums with your “huehue, THIS TROPE GUYS, SO MISOGYNIST XD XD”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Sexist!

“it’s right up there with accusing people who point out racist-sounding statements as being racist themselves.”

they are if they manage to find racist statements in simple conversations. They are just racist to the other race.
But you keep burring yourself in your imagined persecution, I’m sure it works great on reddit.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Sexist!

Not a straw man at all. A straw man is if I claimed you made an easily debunked argument that you didn’t make and then debunked it. My question isn’t even debunking anything, let along putting words in your mouth. At absolute worst, you might be able to accuse me of moving the goalposts, but I don’t think I’m doing that either.

What I am doing is trying to nail down what your point actually is. It appears to be this: you disagree with me about whether or not a specific statement was sexist, so therefor I must be sexist myself. However, that’s just a silly argument, so I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Sexist!

If Hayden didn’t want his words to be read in a negative light, he should have thought of that before he left the house. The ’emotional’ criticism is a widely-known sexist construct, and whether or not Hayden feels it to be sexist he should be prepared for the outcome of his actions vis a vis public commentary.

Whether or not Hayden is sexist, whether or not his remark is even sexist, major political figures should be prepared for the world to hear and read their commentary. This applies to all audiences.

I personally don’t find this statement as offensive as many statements worded in similar ways. It does unsettle me, however, and I would encourage explained interpretation of Hayden’s words, given the wider context of Hayden’s words and actions. Yes, even if the results are contentious.

Anonymous Coward says:

” may show deep emotional feeling on part of the senator. But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.

I find it very hard to believe that with the state of the government now, 1 emotional person could dictate the state of a $40 million report. Especially if that person isn’t the one doing the research or reporting.

Honestly, I believe there is too much deception, covering up, and secrecy for even the President to affect a report that much. How would one person of an “oversight” committee have the power to control what a report looks like?

Michael (profile) says:

Ok, so let’s take the emotional “but torturing people is WRONG” argument away for a second and focus on the “it didn’t produce significant results” argument. We are still in the same place – not really a good plan.

Can’t someone just go get a patent on “extraction of information from organic data storage devices through the use of irritants” so nobody else can do this to people?

Anonymous Coward says:

too emotional to judge CIA torture fairly?

that is rich. Torture is never acceptable and can’t be defended.

Torture is and always was worthless to gather information. The tortured will always eventually say what torturer wants to hear, making the entire process futile.

The only use for torture is to intimidate people, nothing more. The moment the USA were allowing torture was the moment when they betrayed every notion of civilization that existed, It was the moment where every resistance to the USA became justified.

The only way to judge torture programs fairly is to trial every single one who signed off on them for crimes against humanity and treachery for betraying your own country and everything it used to stand for.

Everyone involved is guilty of crimes against humanity, there is no way around it and no way to sugarcoat it.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Yoga and Torture

There’s a lucrative industry in claiming copyrights on ancient yoga postures and techniques. If you can do it for yoga you can do it for torture.

I fear that the main reason Chris Wallace is stonewalling is that the CIA has been using the intellectual property of everyone from the Inquisition to Iran without proper licensing agreements. Even ignoring the financial penalties, any attempt to release the report on the CIA’s torture program will only lead to endless DMCA take-down notices.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Yoga and Torture

“CIA has been using the intellectual property of everyone from the Inquisition”

Oh man, you’re comment invokes visions of The Vatican suing the CIA for IP violations in an amount that would make the MAFIAA’s claim for more money than the world contains look like a teenagers allowance in a third world country.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Yoga and Torture

They can CLAIM copyright, and some people might pay them, but according to the Copyright Office the copyrights are no longer valid.

However, under the policy stated herein, a claim in a compilation of exercises or the selection and arrangement of yoga poses will be refused registration. Exercise is not a category of authorship in section 102 and thus a compilation of exercises would not be copyrightable subject matter. The Copyright Office would entertain a claim in the selection, coordination or arrangement of, for instance, photographs or drawings of exercises, but such compilation authorship would not extend to the selection, coordination or arrangement of the exercises themselves that are depicted in the photographs or drawings.

The Office has issued registration certificates that included ??nature of authorship?? statements such as ??compilations of exercises?? or ??selection and arrangement of exercises.?? In retrospect, and in light of the Office?s closer analysis of legislative intent, the Copyright Office finds that such registrations were issued in error.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Yoga and Torture

IN THEORY, to the Copyright Office such copyrights are no longer valid. But that’s only the intention.

IN REALITY, the Copyright Office routinely grants such copyrights. Again, look at the Wikipedia entry “Yoga Piracy.” Well documented as ancient knowledge, and worth $billions as modern IP under copyright.

Or look at the litigation and claims over “Happy Birthday to You.” No rational person would claim that the copyright is valid. And yet here we are.

The intention of copyright regulations is utterly irrelevant next to how they used and enforced in the real world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Yoga and Torture

I read the article the first time you mentioned it. The only not-broken external link points to something written in 2004. The document I linked to earlier was from 2012. The Wikipedia article has not had any significant edits since then. (I’m tempted to edit the thing myself to reference the copyright office’s stance, as it’s clearly relevant.) Do you have any evidence that the copyright office is STILL granting these?

I must admit that a copyright office denial of registration is not the final word – after all, the copyright office denied the claim by that “Innocence of Muslims” actress to a copyright on her 5 second performance, but the circuit court decided her case was likely to prevail anyway. On the other hand, most courts would probably defer to the Copyright Office, and even if they don’t, the statement by the copyright office that says the material is not copyrightable means you can at least prove the infringement was not willful (so no putative damages) and without a valid registration they can’t seek statutory damages, so they’re only left with proving actual damages.

And yes, you can always argue that settling is cheaper than fighting and that makes the law almost irrelevant, but that can be true of any lawsuit.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Yoga and Torture

“Copyright doesn’t ACTUALLY last forever and a day…”

That’s impossible to know, as “forever and a day” hasn’t arrived yet. But given that so far copyright terms get extended every time Mickey Mouse is about to enter the public domain, it’s not unreasonable to assume that this will continue to happen. The net effect is that copyright actually lasts forever and a day, regardless of whatever term is reflected in the current law.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Of course, as Amy Davidson at the New Yorker notes, while the Ignatius report does suggest this as potential motivation for Feinstein, it’s actually taking a Feinstein quote completely out of context.”

What would have been better is if you had included the specific quote, exactly when it was said and to whom it was made.

Anonymous Coward says:

Prisoners without the ability to defend themselves being tortured deserves an emotional response, by creating a clear no torture under any circumstances by anyone representing the US is just smart, and offers at least small protections for US Military Personnel and all others that may be captured in time of wars or conflicts.
It also provides us with the moral high ground, and can be used to provide ample reason to hit hard if another nation or group causes undue harm to prisoners in time of conflict.
to be honest no emotion is needed for using intelligent strategy.

David says:

Well, duh.

Without a few persons having strong emotions about right and wrong, there would be no American constitution.

Of course, Hayden has a very low opinion of the constitution anyway. If he had been in office a few hundred years ago, he’d have tortured and hanged George Washington for being on the wrong side of power.

One century later, he’d have been a leading member of the Ku Klux Klan. And these days he got to head the NSA.

You can judge the quality of a democracy by how close to the top of power scum has a chance to rise. The U.S.A. has seen better times.

trollificus (profile) says:

Well...that's just all kinds of wrong.

Everything about this is wrong.

a) It’s wrong to say Hayden’s was a sexist comment. It isn’t sexist because he would characterize ANYBODY’S negative reaction to “enhanced interrogation methods” as being overly emotional, including most of the outraged comments here.

b) But he would also be wrong, as the outraged reaction is NOT overly emotional, but rational and moral.

c) And Feinstein, who is an idiot political hack liberal 1%er and wrong on everything from budgetary, environmental, economic, and foreign policy issues to mindless gender legislation, domestic spying, IP/copyright/patent issues and on and on, is, God help me, absolutely RIGHT on this one.

And that just seems wrong, somehow. Looks like I picked the wrong decade to give up sniffing glue.

David says:

Re: Well...that's just all kinds of wrong.

But he would also be wrong, as the outraged reaction is NOT overly emotional, but rational and moral.

You are confused. “Moral” is the same as “overly emotional” in gobbledyspook. Hayden is proud to be a “human” who managed to rid himself of any traces of moral, qualms, or compassion. He’d be ashamed to be influenced by any of that overly emotional claptrap.

He is America’s answer to Joseph Goebbels.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...