It would appear that former NSA and CIA boss Michael Hayden has some anger management issues to work out. We thought he was just a little nutty in the past -- calling Snowden's supporters internet shut-ins
and insisting that Snowden himself (a non-drinker) was bound to end up an alcoholic
. But in the past few days, he's gone somewhat ballistic in attacking various elected officials and government employees in a manner that sounds like he's literally asking to get into a fist fight.
Yesterday, we noted how odd it was that he decided to go the misogynistic route, by arguing that Senator Dianne Feinstein was too emotional
to put out a credible report on the CIA's torture practices (while, at the same time admitting that he was defending the report despite not knowing what's in it). However, apparently that was just the latest in his round of weird ad hominem attacks. Trevor Timm
points us to a couple of even more bizarre and outlandish quotes from Hayden from late last week. He was speaking at Johns Hopkins University, debating issues related to the NSA, when he was asked about James Clapper lying to Congress
(something Clapper has flat out admitted to doing) concerning whether or not the NSA was collecting data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans. Hayden used the opportunity to not just defend Clapper, but to say that Senator Ron Wyden wasn't "man enough" and to call Senate staffers a bunch of "sissies"
. He tries to play off the "sissies" comment as him just pronouncing the acronym of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- SSCI -- but having it coupled almost immediately with the "not man enough" comment, it's pretty obvious what Hayden is suggesting.
Does he think this is high school?
If you can't watch it, here's what he says:
Jim's a good friend and an honest man. But, frankly, it was a horrible answer to -- and here's the new news -- a really horrible question. Ron Wyden knew the answer to that question. Everyone on that dais, every member of that Committee, knew the answer to that question. Everyone sitting behind every member of that committee -- all those sissies -- the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staffers, knew the answer to that question. That question had been briefed to them multiple times in closed sessions.
What Jim should have said is, "we'll take it to closed session." He didn't. But Senator Wyden doesn't get a free pass either. If he wanted Jim Clapper to commit a felony, and reveal something that was appropriately classified, Senator Wyden should have acted like a man and revealed it himself, rather than trying to "trap" a career public servant into what for him would be a criminal act. This thing cuts two ways.
There's so much crap here to unpack. Over the last few months we've noticed this line of argument appearing from one (anonymous) individual in particular in our comments -- that Senator Wyden
was somehow to blame for, in his role on the Senate Intelligence Committee, asking a basic question to the Director of the Office of National Intelligence. Of course, even as Hayden himself admits above, if the answer to that question went too far, there was an easy response to that, to just note that to give a full answer to that question, it would require a closed session. Clapper had said exactly that in the past, and has done it again since then. None of that required lying.
Second, just because the person asking the question -- or any of the "sissies" -- knows the answer is pure misdirection by Hayden. In many Congressional hearings, the people asking the questions know the answers ahead of time. These are efforts to get that information into the public record from those responsible. And, it is Clapper who is the responsible party here, so it was perfectly reasonable for Senator Wyden to ask Clapper that question in a hearing. Besides, the point -- as Wyden had been clear about for years
before that session, and ever since then -- was that this was an issue that needed public debate, and he was asking those responsible to provide the information for the public debate.
Even the NSA's main defender, Senator Dianne Feinstein noted that she was shocked by Clapper's answer to Wyden's question, since she knew it was a lie. Furthermore, Senator Wyden made it clear that if the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had asked him beforehand not to ask that question (which he'd sent to them the day before), he wouldn't have asked it
. But the situation gets worse. After Clapper lied, Senator Wyden's office wrote his office, asking if he'd like to correct the false statement, and Clapper's office refused to do so
, even though the knew it was a false statement.
As for Hayden's claim that Clapper would be "committing a felony," that's also erroneous. Revealing the details of a classified program is a felony, but simply stating, without context or explanation, that the NSA is collecting data on millions of Americans (a factual statement) is not revealing a classified program at all. Furthermore, you know what is
a felony? Lying to Congress
Either way, the entire point of the Senate Intelligence Committee is that it's in charge of oversight to make sure that the intelligence community isn't overreaching its limits, including doing things like collecting data on millions of Americans. Thus it seems flat out crazy to suggest that Senator Wyden should be tarred and feathered for doing his job on the committee
Worse, to attack Senator Wyden's "manhood" for not revealing the information himself, rather than asking Clapper is another rhetorical attack from someone who clearly has an axe to grind. After all, it was Hayden who kicked off the clearly unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program that these more recent efforts were cooked up to try to "make legal." And it was Hayden who, back when he was CIA director, did everything possible to stop Senator Wyden
from revealing CIA wrongdoing. At that time, seven years ago, Wyden questioned why Hayden was so scared over a little basic oversight by the Senate. Apparently Hayden's way of getting back at Wyden is to toss out schoolyard insults at him.
Senator Wyden seems man enough to actually respect the Constitution, to stand up against a powerful intelligence community and his own party, and to try to initiate public review of warrantless surveillance on Americans. How about Hayden? He's the guy who kicked off that warrantless spying on Americans which he's worked very hard to keep in the shadows ever since. Wyden himself has ignored Hayden's schoolyard taunts directed at himself, but has called out Hayden for his "outrageous" attack on Feinstein's motives
, while also pointing out:
General Hayden unfortunately has a long history of misleading the American public – he did it on domestic surveillance when he was the head of the NSA, and he did it on torture when he was the CIA Director. The best way to correct this culture of misinformation is to give the American people a chance to review the facts for themselves, and I’ll be working with my colleagues and the administration to ensure that happens quickly.
Meanwhile, Marcy Wheeler notes that Senator Wyden is almost being far too kind
to Hayden in not detailing Hayden's blatant lies
to the very same Senate Intelligence Committee concerning the CIA's torture program. Fear not, though, because Wheeler details the list of Hayden's past lies.
That's not a schoolyard taunt about who is or who is not "man enough." It's a simple fact. All of this makes you wonder just how much there is about Hayden
in his role as director of the CIA during the torture regime in the report. You almost have to ask if Hayden simply isn't "man enough" to stand up for whatever is in the report about him.