Tom’s guest today is General Michael Hayden. In more than 40 years in the Air Force and the Intelligence Community, the retired four-star General served as the Director of the National Security Agency from 1999-2005, during the George W. Bush Administration. He also served for about a year as the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and in 2006, he became the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, until President Obama appointed Leon Panetta to that position in 2009.
The thesis of General Hayden’s latest book is disconcerting and frightening. Given President Trump’s proclivity to lie about what he knows to be true, and the danger that there are things he should know to be true, but doesn’t, Michael Hayden paints a picture of an intelligence community at risk, whose efficacy is directly affected by the President’s refusal to acknowledge facts, and his harsh and undisciplined rhetoric.
If the intelligence community cannot effectively do its job, then the country is at risk, as are the basic institutions that make-up our democracy. General Hayden is no stranger himself to controversy surrounding intelligence. It was under his watch at the NSA during the Bush administration that reports surfaced of warrantless wiretapping of Americans in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
His new book is about the importance of truth-telling, an abiding responsibility of the intelligence community when it educates the President about the geo-political landscape, and the options that the Commander in Chief may consider to address a range of challenges. The book is called The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies, published by Penguin Press.
General Michael Hayden joins us on Midday from the studios of NPR in Washington, D.C.