Ep. 14: Perspectives: Gen. Michael Hayden, Director of the NSA and CIA under George W. Bush


It was arguably the defining event of our time when terrorists crash jet airliners into the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon our world changed forever. Our sense of safety and security was shattered for all of us who lived through September eleventh two thousand one we will never forget the sense of shock anguish and rage. More than three thousand of our fellow countrymen had been killed men. Women and children who had been going about their lives unaware of the evil that awaited them, we will also never forget the shared sense of fear invulnerability terrorism was nothing new but for most of us Americans. It was something that happened in faraway lands. With names we often couldn't pronounce we weren't used to these Tross ities happening on our own soil against our own people. There was also a sense that this could just be the beginning. We were shocked that a group of terrorists were able to pull off complex operation involving the hijacking of four planes and using them as suicide weapons. We were horrified by how crafty effective the perpetrators had been and we couldn't help. But think it was just a matter of time before it happened. Again, the man in the Oval Office, George W Bush was tasked with responsibility of bringing those responsible for the attacks to Justice and protecting the American people from further attacks from that moment forward the chief priority of the American government was the war on terror. President Bush was faced with the Lemos inherent in free society during a time of insecurity. He had to make difficult decisions about just how America would confront the threat of terrorism does one handle terrorism as a crime the matter mainly for law enforcement or is inactive war a matter mainly for the military in the intelligence agencies and given the nature of terrorism. Rashad's we networks operate through Lissette channels the government felt the need to increase its intelligence and special operations capabilities. So President Bush signed the Patriot Act long with a host of other bills and government reorganizations. But this came at a cost many Americans feared that the government was doing too much behind the scenes with little or no accountability, they worried that the privacy of American citizens was being curtailed, but others believed and still believe to this day that these actions were necessary to protect the nation from another catastrophic attack. It's been almost. Eighteen years since that terrible day these concerns about the proper balance between security and privacy and about the most effective way to fight the war on terror still remain with us today as our social media platforms continue to struggle with balancing, free expression privacy and accessibility. It may be helpful to look back at the lessons. We've learned since General Michael v Hayden was at the forefront of the government's effort to protect America against terrorism. He was the director of the national security agency on September eleventh two thousand one and he implemented many of the government's policies to intercept communications and gather signals intelligence on potential threats against America. He later served as principal deputy director of national television's and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency in both positions. He continued to play a major role securing the country from attack. We recently had the privilege of interviewing him to discuss our recent presidents efforts in the war. Are on terror. That interview is the subject of this episode of this American president. We have a special guest today. General Michael v hidden he is a retired four-star general from the air force. He's also the former director of the NSA he was the principal deputy director of national intelligence, and the former director of the CIA he's currently a principal at the church off group and also a distinguished visiting professor at George Mason University as well as a national security commentator for CNN is Yasser of several books. The book playing to the edge. And also his latest book, the assault on intelligence were very happy to have you on your show. Thank you very much. So read the book plane to the edge. Thank you excellent book. And when I was in college all this stuff was what was going on. And it was all on the news, of course, going to college. You get one perspective on it. It was great to read it. And you obviously you didn't just have a front row seat for history. But you were participant in history. And you saw things that most people will probably never see one thing. You said in the book is that secrecy is a legitimate part of society, including the United States, you cited the cul perspiring, George Washington ran, right? What do you believe is the proper level of security in an open free democratic country security compared to secrecy or privacy and liberty and those kind of balances secrecy? I guess specifically. Okay. Yes. So so as hush is an activity that succeeds in the shadows. But we live in a broader society that values transparency and so American espionage, though, it's baseball and apple pie as you suggested. All the way back to George Washington and the continental army. It's it's always again rested uncomfortably, and the broader political culture, and I was director of NSA. I would often say look we only needed to be two things to be successful. When need to be powerful. I wanted to be secret. And we exist at a broader political culture that just distress them to things our and secrecy. And so it is a challenge. It's a constant challenge. And there's never a right answer. There is a good answer for the current situation. The balance the fulcrum between transparency, and and secrecy has to fit the broader circumstances in which you find yourself, and so that in wartime, for example, or with domestic threats, for example, you might trend more in the direction of secrecy because your your safety is more at risk. Whereas in other times, you might trend more in the direction of transparency. Because the threat isn't nearly as a cute it's a line that we continually negotiate as a free people. So it's really more of a dynamic. Absolutely. And look, you know, if something's got secret stamped on her from new as government, then frankly, people like me, we just aren't gonna talk about publicly period. Now, I will not claim that all things stamps secret are equally secret. All right. And so there there is as you say there is this dynamic s to look there's some things we all know that can't be public. And there are some things over here saying, you're kidding me. You're trying to keep that sacred. And then there's a bunch of stuff in the middle that we argue about all the time. One thing you mentioned in your book is the concept of translucence, which I really just stood out to me could you talk about. So I actually pushed for more transparency from the American intelligence community whenever possible because of the social contract we have with the American people the American people just simply want to know more about what we're doing. They're not nearly as willing as a used to be to outsource that kind of oversight knowledge to the congress. They want to know more themselves. So so guess what we don't get to determine how the American people think it's the other way around. So our actions now have to respond to to the express needs and desires of the American people. But when I say be transparent, there's a lot of nervousness inside my old community that it's hard to tell three hundred and thirty million Americans what we're doing and not let the other guy. No. And the concept that came to mind, it's not my. Fine. It's from a friend of mine and the Intel committee was not transparency, but translucence actually that's a good thought. Because if you think of translucence you looking through a glass, you you can't make the fine details, but you can see the broad shapes and have a broad understanding of what's going on. So I thought that was actually a pretty convenient thought. What does that look like translucence, for example in a program where I could have been probably more open was meta data. All right translucence might have meant. I could talk about how we use meta data in general data ice out a communication rather than the content of communication. I could have been more public about how we use that. And how it wasn't increasingly useful tool without talking about any specific metadata programs, right, right? Which kind of patterns met at itself. Right. Exactly. It's about the I guess the kind of the overarching information as supposed to content the framework of a communications event, right? Then the communication, right, right? One thing. I thought was interesting when I was growing up, you know, in college you'd hear all these things, and it it the nature of it lends itself to these nefarious area. Dark. You know teams that are going. It's it's very hard to control that narrative. So, and that's one of the reasons I keep saying to my community gotta tell more of your own story. Otherwise, other people will and they won't understand it as much as you do. Sure. So you've got to go out there and fill up the space with you know, for one of a better term with your narrative not went to. Here's a good example dogs for okay? It was in the offered union. And it was actually a Connor Snowden presentation on my part. I think I think Edward Snowden armed your safety. And that was kind of my thing. Well, it wasn't a friendly audience to begin with. And I begin with look give me a minute here. Hey, y'all just came into the movie in the third real. And you'd think you knew the Butler did it. We're going to go back. I'm gonna show you the first and second row, and at the end of that, you may still think the Butler did it. Sure. But at least you're doing it with more basic knowledge. So let me tell you what it is were doing why it is. We do what we do at the end of the day. You may say I got it a more comfortable than I was. But I still don't want you doing it. Right. Right. That's fine. But right now. A lot of instances. We don't get that. It's it's the story gets rushed to the darkest corner of the room. And there is no debate. Right. Right. So that's interesting that you talk about how it behooves the intelligence community to be more translucent to be more open. So I was gonna ask have we attained the optimal level of secrecy? Have we gone too far not far enough? And from what your answer? It sounds like we should actually be or open the the intelligence community. So you've got a dynamic right now. We're a whole bunch of folks like me retired seniors are on TV a lot. That's that's unprecedented myself. Jim Clapper, John Brennan, Mike Burrell, John McLaughlin. Jeremy bash Phil Mudd. I mean, there are more right? And and we're out there. I think because of what I said before there's a story to be told at the end. Of the day at the end of the show. You could say, yeah, I get it. I still don't like it. Okay, fine. But at least we've gotten the story out of why we believe things we we believe in. You know, what I what I try to emphasize folks is this is not a debate between the forces of light and the forces of darkness that this is a discussion about things that we as a free people would love to have in full measure, our our freedom and our security our safety and our liberty our privacy. But you can't right you there are certain trade offs to be made. And so again, it's it's an intelligent conversation rather than a. Let me put it to this way. We don't have different values. We have different jobs. Right, right. Different roles. Yep. So you were the director of the NSA director the CIA. What would you say are the biggest misperceptions about these two agencies? The people inside those agencies are somehow different than the general population. What I try to impress upon folks. These your friends and everything by the way, if you live we're talking right now, and they are your friends in literally, right? Yeah. You may not know it a lot of agency folks out there in the civilian community. Go to church, go to the soccer games and your kids intermingle with their kids. And and so on they share your values. They are just forced by their profession to apply these common values and circumstances. You probably will never face and may never even know about. But they do share your values. Yeah. And that's one thing you talked about a lot as far as how how much you guys cared about the people that that worked for you guys, obviously and wanted to protect them for many kind of harm that might come from disclosures or anything like that. And that seems like a big responsibility for whoever is running those agencies now just a few things as far as the interesting things that happened day-to-day. I know that you you basically briefed the president on covert actions often in there for the briefing as well, the president Stalybridge sure, just you know, to know, what what all that is like as far as you can say and George Bush had a lot of time, George W so does dead, but George W Bush's the president, I served the longest time. Right. And he had a lot of time for intelligence, and he was an incredibly interactive client. He did not sit back passively and just let us drone on with the briefing. He engaged he pushed back. He asked questions. He said he would say that's not what you told me two months ago. Sure. And challenge things we were saying and so for an intelligence officer. That's that's pretty good client that someone that you appreciate. And he gave us the time. He took the president's daily brief in person six days a week every week of the year. Oh, wow. So you saw almost every day. But. Well. Someone in there like me. I saw him regularly on Thursdays, whereas suggested earlier I did the covert action briefing and you were appointed originally by President Clinton. Right. And just looking around. You know, have a lot of portrait's when you and president George H W Bush, what could you talk about those two men and just so I did not ever meet President Clinton in a professional capacity. Okay. Okay. My first meeting with George W Bush was a week or two after nine eleven. So he's been in office for what eight months when on. I saw them. I had worked for his dad, George H W Bush when he was president. I was on the national Security Council. Okay. And so I mean, he didn't know me all that. Well, but he was aware of that. I was on the staff you realize he was one of my predecessors. Hey, let's true. All right. So when President Bush w came out for my formal swearing in. He came into my office, and I had moved in with any of the knickknacks books, and so on and looks around just absolutely bare shelves and says to me and my family, you can tell a lot about a man by his library. And then I said. We're you're in this office before Mr President. We did you come here when your father. CIA president it. Nope. Too much of a security risk then. The sounds exactly like what he would say. That's great. And but since then as far as president, George H W Bush gotten to know him he came to the agency for our sixtieth anniversary celebration, right? We had a Texas barbecue on the front lawn. Great deal of affection for him from them workforce. Who remembered his time and the agency? And so you you become one of the alum do, and it's you know, you, obviously didn't always agree. Sure. Change directions from time to time you weren't for different presidents and so on. But once you've been in that job, you feel a certain kinship with everyone else who has been in that job to sure yes. And as far as President Clinton, you have you gotten a gnome and other. I briefed secretary Clinton. Okay. Several times. Okay. She was very quick study. Very smart. And she got to the bottom of the page at a at a pretty good clip when you're talking to her she would pick things up. And so she it was good to prefer. You know, it was engaged. Right. Right. But I did not brief President Clinton. Sure. So I was gonna ask about nine eleven I was about to start college. You know? And I all I remember is that everything before nine eleven just seem so different for everything afterwards. What did what was the perception of Al Qaeda and the threat environment before nine eleven? So I mean there was. Strong perception of the threat, George Tenet writes that he was going around Washington in the summer two thousand and one saying this system was blinking red until we were mover keenly aware of the danger. Now, we didn't know the specifics. And in fact, we because it had happened this way all the time in the past without the core of the danger was an attack by L Qaeda against American and American interests abroad, which had happened with which it happened to right? And so the system was blinking red. We knew something was coming that the chatter was in the network. We just didn't know the specifics. And so was it one of those things where before we saw something that like nine eleven it would seem to me that Qaeda would be one of many different hot spell. That's a great. That's a great point. Because George Tenet was the I two time is calling all on all of us at NSA. On all of us to put more energy into counter-terrorist. Sure. In the. The intelligence effort against Al Qaeda is really hard to do because people were unwilling to let you light in your coverage of of other topical areas. Sure, I had at one grand debate where I had to go downtown to discuss about our lightning our coverage of Nigerian organized crime in order to go. Do some other things now actually Nigerian organized crime is probably important. It's one of Jillian right important things. And so one of the big things that nine eleven did was to Lalas to simply say, we gotta go to this. And he's up all the other requirements. Right. Always a good thing. Right. But it did give us focus. So I guess once it happened. It was it seemed to be very clear to most people that it was all Qaeda, right? Second plane at the tower, just Al Qaeda, right right now, the war on terror, you know. Gins interest as soon as that happens, and one of the things that you you talked about was that the nature of intelligence or or just national security is that before something happens or rather after something happens. There's the sense. You haven't done you should have done more. But once things work out, and you've you know programs are up in running you're doing too much. Yeah. That again is a byproduct of existing political culture is uncomfortable with us in the first place. And so the way we put it is essence American elites we're talking about here. Phil willing to criticize us for not doing enough when something goes bad and immediately criticizing us to too much right soon as we've made them feel safe again. Right. Right. So it almost seems that you you kind of have to plan for that inevitably going to happen when we start some programs outed NSA. Stellar wind is one that. I right. About chapters in the book to cover it. We know something was going to hit some fan. Sure day. Sure. We just knew that. Right. But you probably tell from my tone right now, I was comfortable with the decision then I'm comfortable with the decision now. But we knew there were going to be there's going to be rough water ahead. If we did that and as far as stellar wind, the book explained a lot as far as kind of organizing it coherent way. And so you have the meta data aspect where you have an essentially that does that involve going to the phone company going we went we went to the phone companies essence records, they kept for their own purposes. Right. So this may or may not be a distinction with the difference for your listeners Scher, but that means it's not intelligence collection. Right. Not electric surveillance. Right, right. We're simply saying you've got records there. Your records company. We would like the records and the records are the fact of call number eight called member be at this time for this long. And the those records, and I know you mention a court cases were essentially meta data's is fair game to with the guard of that one is the records themselves would a called third party, data and other words, I've given up my right to that information because I've already seated it to the phone company. Sure. Otherwise, they can't manage their network, right? The second the courts of always made a distinction. Well, since nineteen seventy nine have made a distinction between meta data what I just described in fact of call and the content of the call, right? It's explicitly said that meta data is not constitutionally protected, right? Okay. And so the and the meta data is something that applies to US citizens as well. They citizens be calls from Americans to Americans. So we know there's no question about it. All right. This was all call activity in the United States in America from America to America. And. And as far as the wiretapping that would usually involve. As foreign intelligence. So now, we have metadata rice described it. Yeah, we got this ocean of data. And I mean, it's more than a good asked. Yeah. That's the privacy aspect of that was then what did we do with it? Right. Right. And there were very strict rules. And so I'll just give an example. So we row up safe. I'll say in Yemen. We would pick up someone with pocket litter. That's just stuff these carrying. He's bears to be a very bad, man. He's affiliated with al-qaeda. He's got a cellphone. We've never seen this cellphone before I wonder if this cell phone is ever called the United States. So we go to that ocean of metadata simply type a query has has this phone number shown up in this ocean of data, and then we have a numbering queens that self identifies as he calls me every Thursday, we then would say. Do you call? And then we would we would track it out that way. But that's that's all that was ever used four. We didn't run in a algorithms on it to get patterns of this header. Exactly, right. Well, all we were doing was. Do we have evidence that there was phone activity connected to what I we used this dirty number pattern of behavior. That's something that Google does. Right. We didn't. We'd never. Right. And and. It's hard to measure, but but after this became public, all right and say actually revealed how many times they went to the database and said, hey, but in your call this number sure is a little over two hundred two hundred times in a year in a year on average or the one year that they've had a public that was the Snowden year and try now to explain the program. So we we thought there were sufficient privacy safeguards. Sure. Because of that. No, yes. The other question and still win did allow us in a way that was not consistent with the Feis act to to collect the content of calls entering or leaving the United States one end of which at least one end of which we believed was affiliated with al-qaeda. Okay. So and so what that meant mostly was that we were collecting on a wire in the United States cables calls transiting the United States. They were foreign a form. Okay. Oh, okay. Okay. But we also did collect calls that originated or terminated in in the United States as well. Okay. And and again that that is not out supposed to be done with regard to fi-. So without a judicial warrant. President Bush made the decision that that the judicial warrant process for what it was we were doing doing would be to burdensome. And so used his article two thorns to to go under under article two with the argument being to the degree that Feis limited his commander in chief of thirties. Vice it was not constitutional. That's a very interesting argument when it because I I know you said in the book that you talked to, you know, the attorney of national security agency, and he indicated that Feis I guess wasn't constitutional when it came to that. If it limited the president's constitutional a statute cannot reduce the president's constitutional authority now. That was going to be an argument in front of the supreme court, right? But right. But that was the position I see. And was there. I guess kind of court precedent on the article that aspect of article two so Faisal was passed in the in the late seventies. There had been other exceptions to Pfizer. Okay. I'll we're presidents had said no this unconstitutionally limits. My thority clearly this was the largest, but then again, we're an absolutely unique circumstance, right? And was the idea that this was kind of like a temporary measure right now. It was. Not so much temporary. It was a measure responding to the current threat. Right. And it was renewed every forty five days. So that sense you had approve it again. And again every every seven weeks or so and the front piece to the order that approves it for the next forty five days had an intelligence analysis that the circumstances were still sufficiently urgent that you needed. This extraordinary authority. Okay. Until we we carried that for by the way that that content collection. I just described you hear that that was never contentious inside the executive branch. There are a lot of stories that came out in two thousand and four to five and so there was general consensus that that was that was pretty much within the president's authority, including among department of Justice. And right, right. Yes. There are arguments about stellar win. Right. Not about that. Okay. Okay. Not about that part. How did emails play a role in this tune it came in in later, and it was Email meta data, Email meta? Okay. And that was the part okay over which there were concerns expressed by the department of Justice in March two thousand and four. So the is the idea kind of the same that, it's it's not the content. It's too was it was not the content. But here's the difference in right? Internet service providers. Don't keep records. Right. So this was actually electron Valence. Okay. Yeah. We had collected ourselves. Okay. Yeah. We weren't going to anybody saying give us there is no meta data out there. Sure. For your Email traffic right through his for your phone call right until this the third party doctrine you've already given up your privacy because they need didn't apply. And so we were actually doing surveillance. Okay. And the argument was although the surveillance was well intended and probably constitutional if you could pull it off, and it was. Pulling in too much American data, we were trying to get foreign communications, and therefore it wasn't sufficiently discriminate- in order to meet the reasonableness clause in the fourth amendment where you and I are protected against unreasonable search and seizure now until the department of Justice after having approved it two years, I decided, well, maybe not we had a big argument inside the executive branch stopped doing it. And later that same year by the summer of two thousand and four we pretty much resumed. What it was? I just told you with a quarter. I not doing it under presidential order in. This is different from prison. Or is this part prison is a successor successor. Okay. And prism is far far more robust? Okay. And anything we did under store win. Right. Right. I see and you left the by van right, right? In prison was authorized by statute. Okay. Which which suggests that? Yeah. You can argue over the fine print is whether we should have gotten the law changed or by and large congresses ended the day kind of conclude. Well, it's still pretty good idea. Right. Of course. And they gave an essay far more thorny than anything. We exercised under President Bush. I did under President Bush. Sure, sure end you obviously were the director of the CIA and by then there had been this history prior to your term there of the controversy with indefinite detention with the black sites. So I fully ownership of stellar wind. Right. I inherit already I write additions detentions interrogation. Right. Right. And so again, another thing that, you know, when I heard the news about you had these visions of of people getting shoved into in the dark rooms and staying there for forever, and also it's very interesting too. Because a lot of these programs. You guys had to kind of deal with the fallout of what happened or so I guess by the time that you got in there. How would these programs change how are things changing? So when I got to CIA the program was in stasis because of some legislation. The legal underpinnings of of the program. We're threatened by the new legislation, and we would not go. The agency went out go forward that clear. All right. And so everything was on hold are still holding prisoners. But we're not using any enhanced techniques, nor are we capturing any new people. And so what I had to do. I arrived is get it off dead center. Okay. Move it in some direction. All right. And so I spent the summer of two thousand and six mastering as much as I could. And then in August and went down the Steve head of the national security adviser and send Steve here's what I think we ought to do. I wanted to empty the walk sites where the nation's until service not the nation's jailers, and although the Intel value these prisoners never get to zero. We're. Were reduced Intel value now and some other things other considerations should be kicking in. So we should give them to an appropriate third party or put them in Guantanamo which we did. I said, Steve I'm not saying we should close them Stu still have the right to capture interrogate people and the black sites, but we used to have thirteen techniques. I think we can do with seven. Now, we finally ended up with six all right as we went forward. And then I said Steve. On wish to have a plan for everybody. We bring in. It's not indefinite detention. How Mckee them sixty days. No, I I can extend it sure. But I've got a consciously extended. Otherwise, we've no one comes in the front door without are already knowing what the back doors were the permanent detention would then Finally I said Steve presents gotta give speech got to tell the American people what we're doing. And what we've done and why were to continue to do some of it. That's south turned out in September six. So it sounds like at that point decisions hadn't been made yet on what to do with prisoners who had been detained indefinitely until it fell to me. All right. Right. We've got on our hands. How do we go forward? The first few years is just fighting that war on terror after the urgency of the situation George Tenet. And Georgia's book talks about you know, to the degree there abuses in the program they were early on. And in fact, most of the abuses of which we were later accused actually took place before the program was created the program was actually created to put some discipline on. What was haphazard bad is captures? Right. Yeah. And so, you know, when I got up there and testified that well in the program x y and z well, they would point to AB and see over here. And I would say well, yeah. But that's before the program I'm talking to you about got started. That was that was early in the war on the battlefield in Afghanistan. So there's always that distinction as to what exactly are you talking about? Sure when you give these numbers. Sure. And you know, I think the the way. It had been portrayed, especially when you had the opera grape scandal come out. You just have the worst idea in the assumption that, you know, thousands of prisoners are being held. And and that's that's one of the things. I look honest. Good Americans can say, I don't want you doing this. We knew this way out there on the right? All right, obviously, we thought it was justified by the circumstances. We wouldn't have done it. And we get it. There could be a range of us on this. But what a lot of people don't understand what I tried to impress upon them is the scale I actually say to them how how many how many people you think we held and the answer that question is depending on how you count them. And it's not like we lost anybody. It's doesn't how do you book. It's between one hundred hundred twenty okay. And of that school with a high number one hundred twenty how many did you use any enhanced interrogation techniques, and they answers about thirty. Okay. Okay. And then up that thirty how many were waterboarded. Three three, right? And the wa- last waterboarding was March of two thousand three. All right. It was a technique used almost immediately in the aftermath of the are captures. And then the president of stopped it storage Bush. Right, right. It was it was very limited. And I specifically purpose. Yeah. And you mentioned it was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Probably the most famous is a beta. Yep. Right. And and the Sherri, Sherri. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's something that again my perception just when you're called student. You just kinda think, oh, this is what's going on know, this is a repeat of the Oxford Union thing right now at the end of this. You may still say the Butler did it. Sure other words, I still find that reprehensible, right? Thanks for the information shit. But you're still fun. I get that argument. We just wanted to make sure you understood understood the scale people knew the truth of. Yeah. And so as far as one of the biggest justifications of all these programs is that they were -ffective yet. They worked. Yeah. And you could speak to that. We thought they did. Okay. Barack Obama's CIA chief at the time of the Senate democrat report on the detention program. Barack Obama's CIA chief said we got information not otherwise vailable from these detainees at this is Panetta agenda. John Leon Leon did say the same thing right earlier on and it was quite interesting. The Obama administration wanted to distance itself from the program. I in that it's not their program. They don't wanna be put into place to defend it. But even they had to admit that some of the information used to track down, Osama bin Laden came from the detained. I mean, it was all part of the mix. What do you say to people that just refused to believe that that they refuse to believe the programs were necessary in that they didn't provide accurate intelligence? What I what I say is look let me form the sentence. I think you're saying I don't want my nation doing this. And it didn't work anyway. Okay. Ula, gently you legitimately on the front end of that sentence. And you don't on the back end. We do we we know what happened. And so the sentence that you should be allowed to say is I don't want my nation doing this. And it doesn't matter what. Whether they worked or not interesting. Okay. Which is quite a different say, right? I mean, you're you're saying for moral purpose? I am willing to accept increased risk for the general American population. Find position wasn't it wasn't position CIA. Right. Right. Remember back to we don't have different values have different rules. Right. Right. One of the most I guess controversial aspects of that whole era, the rack war, obviously and weapons of mass destruction. It's kind of like the the phrase of that whole war one thing, you you made clear is that for those who said that the Bush administration lied to get us in the war. That is not. That's yeah. Bush administration was simply saying what we were tonal. Right. Right. Was he's got them. Here's our evidence until one now. Shame on us for for not getting it. Right. Right. Shame on us for portraying. I think a level of confidence in our conclusions that even we didn't have right. That was picked up by the administration, but the administration didn't lie. So when you say as far as the not getting it, right? Yeah. So intelligence was just wrong just is wrong to some reasons. All right. Very very briefly the agency had low balled the Iraq nuclear program prior to Gulf war one. And when the inspectors went in they were far beyond were thought they were. So the bureaucratic instinct was low balled at once that's not going to happen again. Number two. To Iraq actually, tried to pretend that it did have a program because it needed that image these v the Iranians, right? And so we we captured senior ranking Iraqis who said, oh, I'm sure we have a program. What can you tell me about? No. I don't know anything about it. Then I'm sure we have over right? They didn't. And then finally there were trade crafters on our part. I just we put too much weight on a a few very unreliable sources, and frankly. The estimate that was used prior to the war was written by our weapons guys and gals and it wasn't wash through our Iraq men and women. And so what you got was a an estimate largely based on the physics of the case. What's required for a program? What do I think they have without having it going through an Iraqi filter? So for example, you had aluminum tubes? Right. And man, they were finely tuned, and they were expensive as hell. And so most of us are an exception to but most of us out the aluminum tubes were no way, they would pay that much money for these tubes and less they were very important. And therefore, they were they were there actually were suitable for use in centrifuges. We said there for centrifuges, sir. If we would have talked more often, I think to the broader Iraqi analyst population. They would have told us don't jump to that conclusion. You know, the Iraqi smuggle everything they doubled. I mean, it's it's how they survive. So they're used to paying high. I mean, the other cultural clues, right? That might have made us a little less certain on. What was suggested before a physics problem? Sure. In terms of technical can't they right was was their reason that that group hadn't been consulted. Just because the the Senate requested the national intelligence estimate before they voted on the war. Okay. At about three weeks. I see I'm gonna take a year and a half to write these things. Okay. I see. So it was a part of it was just a matter of kind of having not having a time. I guess now when you look at a rack and just what happened. How do you think given, you know, the famous intelligence failures and all those things how do you think it'll be viewed by future story? Well, it'll be as an intelligence. You'll be getting it wrong. Not not dishonesty. But but simply getting it wrong. I go out of my way to point out. We got it wrong. Don't blame the president for line. Sure. I'll give you another case the administration tickly the department of defense wanted to make a strong case that there was a relationship between the Iraqi intelligence service and Qaeda, and we said, no, it's not true and continued to say it was not true. And so if we did the WMD thing just because of administration pressure doesn't explain why them we didn't do the Iraqi intelligence service, right? Right. And the and the reason is we believe one we didn't believe the other. Sure. Sure. Now, I've asked you about President, George W Bush one thing you were there for almost as pretty much. You're there his entire it was and but most intimately involved in the second administration. Okay. How would you say he changed throughout his? Residency so hard for me to say because I didn't see him in the first administration. Sure that that much, but I do write in the book that now there's there's a an urban legend out there that there are other people pulling the strings, right? President Bush ROY wasn't in charge. I write in the book is I don't know what was June the first ministration, but I can sure tell you in the second ministration, I knew who the president was George W Bush in charge. Sure. Now, it's interesting when you when I saw you speak at another time talked about different presidents kind of the paradigm. You have I think the Hamilton. Tony Jackson jeffersonian will Sony you describe and President Bush as a essentially a will essentially everybody's a mix. Right. But but he he was he was an internationalist and he believed in American ideals. I mean, when I say President Bush what a middle think of is freedom agenda. Sure, Merrick was going to be active in the work. World promoting the cause of freedom. That's pure will Sonia. How did the we'll Sonian view the freedom agenda play? What was that relationship between that mindset and the intelligence community Hauser you had a president who wanted to be involved. Sure who loaned to be active in the world who believes in the in the in the healing power of democracy. And so he wanted to know the fine print. How do how do I advance that agenda in post-war Iraq? How do I advanced that agenda and the Palestinian territory, advance that agenda and sub Saharan Africa? I it's interesting because when one program, I think it was an NFC program that was disclosed President Bush, basically publicly owned it. And I I remember you mentioned that and said that essentially he had the intelligence communities back. So that was actually the New York Times. December of two thousand and five okay? Going public with an aspect of the stutter win program. And I write in the book, and when that happens everybody in the Intel community takes deep breath and says, all right? What's the big going to do on this one shooter, and what President Bush did was to rip up the Saturday morning radio address that he'd already pre taped went live on Saturday morning in essence said I did it. Here's why I did it. I'm gonna continue to do it. You got a problem with that seem me? And so I it seems that for the intelligence community that's kind of that's an ideal commander at socially, the kind. That will is deaf customer shirt. All right. And you know, we we had our challenges. Right. But but he had our back. Right, right. Another thing that that stood out to me is he he pressed hard on you personally, when it came to some bin Laden understandable and also on Iran. Yeah. If you could just kind of talk experienced member. Remember that the two big priorities were counterterrorism and kind of preparation right in the Bush administration. And so what he really wanted to know about Iran was well where are they on the nuclear program, but more importantly, and this was harder. How did they make decisions where the points of leverage g how do I do? I hurt influence that was really hard because it's a very opaque society government. The other one was terrorism and Osama bin Laden may just set a personal view quite understandably. Sure that he would love to have been the one to take Osama bin Laden off the battlefield now, we had we had tremendous success against Al Qaeda, while President Bush was president particularly against Al Qaeda's number three, boom. They had many because the life expectancy for number three was measured in weeks, and you know, number one and number two bin Laden and ZOA hairy. They contributed to the move. By simply staying alive shirt. Number three was chief of operations. He had to do stuff yet communicate. Right. It run run there. And that gave us a footprint, and we were remarkably successful dismantling the CUDA operational network. Although we do not get bin Laden under President Bush's watch right right now. President Obama gets elected president. You know, the intelligence community is standing by for who wins. What what does that transition? Like. Yeah, we had we had a team in Chicago. We had a team in Arizona ready to brief the president-elect the next morning, and it was gonna be the same briefing, the President Bush got modest covert action. If there were church and items in there that would come in due course. Okay. All right. But as far as we're concerned, you carry the electoral college get the briefing chur, and we were ready to go. Sure, what has your interaction been with President Obama brief prisoner Bama on covert action in December after the election? And then he asked me to stay on as chief for three weeks while Leon Panetta was getting confirmed. Happily happily did it until. That's kind of that's a mature handover of government, which I don't think happened last time around everyone fell off the cliff on inauguration morning. Not many people were asked to stick around for continuity. But but I try briefed President Obama three or four times while he was president. And then, of course, director Panetta took over it's interesting because, you know, President Obama talked a lot about transparency, obviously ran against a lot of his predecessors policies, you save that more changed in between Bush's first and second term than Bush Obama. Yeah. Yeah. That's absolutely. When you look at the amount of. General point is there's been remarkable continental crust three administration. Right. All right. Bush Obama and Trump, and and I do make the case there were more changes between forty three one and forty three to then the was between forty three and forty four by the time. About forty four President Obama, stop the detentions and interrogations did not stop the renditions did not stop any that Tron IX Valence programs. Those are all all justed between the first and second Bush administrations, and when President Obama came in he was convinced enough of how well run they were. And how needed they were any and they went forward, and you talk a lot about the drone programs. Yeah. Yeah. Which is one right that really caught fire in the last seven or eight months of the Bush administration, and which President Obama actually hug like a teddy bear, right? Put it in the book and went forward with it. Sure. You said that I think eighty five percent of all targeted killings in all of history happened under President Obama. Yeah. And so a embrace this program. Sure as appropriate tool of American power against an opposing armed. Enemy force. Remember, we think this is a war and until President Obama accepted that theory of the conflict. Did you see that as so there have been some criticism of the targeted killings as you know, not being able to apprehend these terrorists and interrogate them. How do you get that argument? So I do point out. All right that we have we made the capture of al-qaeda so. Legally challenging and politically dangerous that the bureaucracy began to trend in the direction of well. Let's just kill them. Sure. No. They're operational reasons that killing was easier than capturing. All right. But again, I do think over the long haul the the the tremendous discord in the country about detentions interogations pushed us more and more in the direction of just using a Connecticut response rather than the capture response. I don't challenge the ethical nature that all right? But it did result in reduced amount of intelligence because we didn't have people to question. Interesting. You talk about a lot of things that happened under the Obama administration. You were out of office for most of that. You know, a lot of very rocky things in holder investigations DO, gene. The OJ memos. Did that make for a very strained relationship? Did bit bit it ever got to a breaking point. I mean, these were honest issues. I thought the president I write in the book, and I still believe it to be true. I thought the president had to do some things for political purposes. And if you my premise that there weren't many changes between the two presidents, but the president run essentially on not being George Bush. He had a show some differences in one way that he could politically show a difference was to allow his attorney general to much fanfare to investigate CIA verge detention interrogation program investigation. That are already been conducted. Good Americans have done their best and remarkably difficult, circumstances and all good Americans are showing up in front of the grand jury spending their kids college education money to buy personal lawyers to to defend themselves. And so I've jetted do you feel like a lot of those programs? Really degraded the quality of intelligence that we've had a I think it's one of those things that, you know, people they'll make an argument they'll say, oh, if you do this this will happen, you know, and it's all in the air force. We call it. Delridge ranges angles in vir- for this topic. It's it's all probabilities. Sure. You know, you wanna slow down for the stop sign. You wanna plow through the stop sign. You wanna stop for the stop sign all you're doing affecting your probabilities in most instances, it's not gonna make any difference. But the probabilities are different over time. They're going to be differences. Sure. And that's that's kind of the way we would culture are warnings right now whenever there's a presidential election. I I'm not in the intelligence community when there's an election, and they're all these different candidates. And when the icy looks at these people these are their potential commanders chief, and I'm sure there's obviously maybe not concerns the right word, but there's interest in what kind of. President will this be the intelligence community. What do people in the icy think of during the election? So so one remarkable thing is they don't talk about it very much -mongst themselves. Sure. All right. There's I mean, there's I mean, we don't please people chatter at the water gore. Yeah. There's just a general reluctance, given the the nature of the business Scher that you you. Don't talk politics. Right, right. You just stick to our mission. It's hard enough. Sure. I will say that the transition to this presidency is the most difficult on record. And it was because well, lots of reasons I frankly think it's personality the president is kind of disinterested. And just interest in these kinds of things based on a base of almost non-existent information about these kinds of things, but the on that all right, which would have been hard enough. It was a great national tragedy. At the first time we had talked to the new president. President-elect was on an issue that other Americans were using to challenge his legitimacy as president on the Russian intervention poisoned the relationship. I see. Yeah. We thought we were telling the truth, and he thought we were trying to challenge his presidency. Now one very interesting aspect of your book. Is you talk about health, and you briefed congress and that how you brief them dozens of times intelligence community. I think you also mentioned judiciary committee services armed services. Yeah. Lots of different political jockeying in those situations. What lessons did you learn? Yeah. Bet can help you know, ic- officials with my my council is go longer. Many members of the committee as possible as much as you can as early as you can. Okay. All right. And frankly, I mean, you won't be put it in the mean-spirited throat away force in the tell you don't do it when everyone's scared, and no one knows what the future holds, you know, don't don't give him the hall pass that allows them to complain about what it is you're doing when you tell them later after. No scared in the futures known. I it was just such a unique time to where it was. And frankly, the president for lots of reasons some of them, political sure others ethical should have shared this responsibility with the congress. Okay. Okay. For the most part. And I look I informed on we met the letter of the law which allows the president to inform only a narrow fraction of the committee's. Sharon ranking member. All right. But I in retrospect, the more, practical course of action would have would have been to of briefed all the members of the committee early on as completely as possible and again and again forced to sent early right which would have been at a cost because they would then be buying increased danger rather than allowing descent later, which was at no cost in your book. You basically talked about you guys briefed members of congress multiple times. And basically later on a lot of these member these. Senators congressman is very dishonest about what you brief them. This honest or selective in their memory to be fair to them that really busy. Yeah. This is our Cain stuff. Okay. Stuff. We think is really clear sometimes doesn't communicate across the table on. I mean that sure. And we're not hiding the ball. Right. And they're not trying to be dissembling. It's just that. What it was? I said wasn't what it is thought. They heard I say all right and tries. You will. You're always going to have that because it's complicated stuff. And you're you're the experts and they're generalists. So and so you've got that dynamic. Sure. But I do think there was an awful lot of. Putting the finger into the wind. See which way it was definitely right? And to see what side of this issue. You wanna come down on shirl? Right, right. When everyone's feeling safe and kind of wringing their hands about you, did what should you do that? Sure. Well, similarly, talk about the relationship with the media. And I mean, there were members of the media that, you know, very well. And when there were times, I am one. No, that's true. Yeah. And when there were times that you didn't want stories to break some sometimes they comply sometimes complies the right word. Sometimes they agreed agreed arguments had weight and won the day. Sure. Sometimes it was just the day. Right. Right. And they would come out later to a degree. I think it would surprise most Americans. That is a pretty honest discussion. Most of the time we don't always agree then again back to my favorite saying on this. We don't have different values. We have different roles, and they have a role to push much out spas ever role to protect as much as possible. And sometimes there's a gap between we're we are where they are. But it for the most part you're talking with people who are not indifferent to to these kinds of questions. Sure. What lessons? Do you think can help intelligence community officials deal with the media, and those kind of circumstances talk to the media when they're not accusing you something. Okay. Don't don't don't wait for the blockbuster story right to action know, who's covering your community talked to them invite them out have informal meetings with them do background IRS. Let them in on what it is. You're trying to do shirts. It's a little bit. Like, let's see the first and second real the movie to right, right? I see. No just talking about Snowden, obviously, you talk about the different reprecussions that happened. The possibility not just intelligence was compromised, but perhaps lives whereas well, again, it's back to you wanna plow through the stop sign you want to slow down to the stops on. You wanna stop it to stop sign sooner? Or later, those decisions gonna make a difference change the probabilities Snowden dramatically changed the probabilities because in one signals intelligence is is always a race. All right, and in no signals intelligence access permanent. Right. You just decide to upgrade your system the two point three from two point two. Guess what? We lose coverage. Right. It's not it's not a cybersecurity issue. It's faster. Download and so and so there's always this loss recovery loss. Recon what we had here though, was was catastrophic loss and recovery was made long. Because how it was. We were working was made public to our targets. Former director deputy director of upon his retirement said that at that point. They were at about a thousand targets that they believe with confidence had changed their communications patterns because of the Snowden revelations. And we'll get him back. Probably. We'll take a long time. Yeah. We'll cost a lot of money. Oh, yeah. And what happens in between? Who are not as well informed. Wow. Well, no to kind of look at future threats Easter scribe Stuxnet as similar to the Tomich bomb as a radical departure talking about cyber warfare. How prepared is the United States for this, new domain? So so the thought on on Stuxnet was not the same destructive power. They were Shiama but a new class of weapon, and we generally don't put those things back in the bottle. Sure. Until now it's out there and others will will who use it. Sabbir defense is really hard. Yes. All right. And there are no perfect cyber solutions. It's like the reverse of what I just described with regard to signals intelligence, no advantages permanent. No disadvantages permanent. It's a continuous race. And so we just have to keep running hard. Knowing that there is no destination that we're just trying to stay ahead. Do you think that it's possible to have like a national discourse on that issue considering how technical it is an Esa Tarik couple reasons why the national discourse is hard number one. You're right. It's technical in Turkey. So when you can find the engineer technician who can actually explain it and straightforward English and Hiram and make that person your face to the congress the out side world and the media, sure. And so on that's that's really important. So that that that the complexity is an issue. The other issue is political or political culture. All right. We Americans including people like me. All right, very sensitive about our privacy. And you know Cup on the beach. We've all accepted as okay, that's a good thing. I liked that gets me safe. You imagine whatever it is. You'd think it Cup on the beat is on your home network. And you you're okay. Right. I think so. Right. And so you've got you've got these privacy allergies will push back to against improve security. Okay. Looking back at history over the past, you know, eighteen years or so given the covert nature of the war on terror will future historians able to evaluate how the Bush and Obama administration responded via the these things don't say sacred forever amazing amount of this has been made public. Okay. I mean, I've got two books and Lapper has got a book. Morales got a book. Georgia's got a book. I mean, there's a body body of at least the first draft of history that people can draw on. And you know, they may think mine is self serving or Michael's incomplete or or Georgia's whatever. But as a group. I think they'll provide some pretty good departure points. And then the documents themselves over time we made public. What do you want future historians and the public to to know about that time period unprecedented circumstances, freely admit that you know, some of the decisions made have been really good. And some of them may not have been. Always well-intentioned never indifferent to the law. Played to the very edge of legal authorities because we thought that's what the circumstances demanded and inqu- quite willing really quite willing to to have a fair minded review, everything that was done. Last thing. I wanted to mention at the end of the book, you say something you were debating in a debate. And you the person you're debating said that they reliever -tarian. And then you said you were to. That was over the pack right conservative community. So I'm debating Napolitano the gym. That's pretty good friends, and he goes out there with a stem winding libertarian. I'm a libertarian search. And I go up there and go. Roy happy to be here with my good friend. Judge Napolitano who announced you all that. He was a libertarian, which I totally agree on a libertarian to booze is no, you're not provocative statement. I'm a libertarian who's also responsible for another part of the document the part that says provide for the common defense. And that was how I began it. It was a tough crowd. I'm sure it was. Yeah. Well, great. I think these are all of our questions. Yeah. I think they'll put my head in the scope and get ready for class. Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you so much of your time. I just want to reiterate what a privilege it was to interview. General Hayden couldn't help but respect him for his candor. His willingness to take the time to speak with us to address these important issues and shares experiences we were saddened to learn that just a week after we interviewed him. He suffered a stroke. We wish him well in his recovery. And we hope that you found this episode at cycle and thought provoking. This American president is produced by myself, Richard Lim, and Michael Neil. Thanks to my dad virtue. The music in this episode is by blue dots. We also want to thank our patriot supporters you to support us going to patriot dot com slash this American president and giving any amount choose per episode that we use. If you like what you've been hearing. You can also help us by sharing episode on Twitter or Facebook. I'm Richard Lim. We're back next time with more this American president.

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