Transcript of Interview of CIA Director Michael
V. Hayden by C-SPAN's Brian Lamb
April 17, 2007
Aired: April 15, 2007
BRIAN LAMB, HOST, Q&A: Michael Hayden, Director
of Central Intelligence, why would you agree to sit down with us for
57 minutes and talk about intelligence?
MICHAEL HAYDEN, DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY:
Lots of good reasons, Brian. Clearly, a lot of what we do is secret.
I mean, we're a secret intelligence organization. But we live in a
free and open society. And we have to have a contact with the American
people. In my talks out at the agency, I call it our social contract
with the American people. We have to create our identity to the best
of our ability - even though we're a secret organization - to create
our identity for the American people so that they feel comfortable
with us. They can't know - most don't want to know - all the things
we do to protect them. But they have to feel comfortable that we're
doing it in a way that they'd find consistent with their values. And
so, an opportunity like this to come and talk a little bit, to discuss
the people at the agency, to talk about the mission of the agency
- that's a great opportunity for us.
LAMB: I've asked a number of generalists what
would they want to ask the head of the CIA. And I wrote some of it
down. One of them said, why don't they talk to each other, share information,
get rid of the politics, just do their job?
HAYDEN: You've got two or three of them there.
Let me take them one at a time. Sharing information is a lesson that
we learned and learned bitterly after the attacks on September 11th.
Now, to be fair, the American intelligence community is the best intel
community in the world when it comes to sharing information, what
I call left-and-right. When you compare us with other organizations
around the planet, we're world class at doing this. Unfortunately,
though, life doesn't mark you on the curve. Life marks you on an absolute
scale. And even though I frankly believe we're better at this - this
sharing left-to-right - than any other intelligence grouping on planet
Earth. It still wasn't, and still probably isn't, good enough to provide
the maximum level of protection to the nation. So, it's something
we work on every day. And people say it's cultural; people say it's
bureaucratic. Frankly, that's probably true. But there is at its core
an existential question here, too. We deal with secret information,
secretly acquired. The more you make that information available, the
more you expose its sources. And once you've done that, if you've
expanded it too much, if the information gets into the wrong hands,
those sources dry up. And now you find you've got less information
to share. So, although this remains a very difficult problem, we've
got things that we can correct. This is kind of the state of nature
for us. There will always be this tension between protecting the sources
of information and sharing that information to the widest possible
audience. You brought up another point, though, which was get the
politics out of this. I'm not exactly sure what your questioner meant
by that, but I'll share one thought with you. When we do our job well
- and now I'm talking about our analytical job - we're at that nexus,
the nexus of the world as it is and the world as we would like it
to be. And when you're in that place - and if you're not in that place,
you're less relevant, you're less valuable to a policymaker - when
you're in that place, you're under a fair amount of pressure. You
want your objectivity to remain sacrosanct, and you have to defend
that. But you also have to be relevant to the policymaker. You can't
be so pure in your abstract reasoning with regard to your analysis
that you're saying things that are not of value to the guy who understands
the duty of your argument, but, frankly, still has to make a decision
in the morning. And so, there are stresses, again, inherent in the
job. You have to put yourself in that nexus where policy is created.
That creates stresses.
LAMB: I'm just going to throw out numbers. I
tried to find - and there are hundreds of thousands of sites that
you can find on the Internet about intelligence in this country. I'm
just going to throw out some numbers and see what you can do with
them, because I know a lot of this stuff is secret. A hundred thousand
people at $45 billion a year is what you kind of get on the Google
LAMB: … about what our intelligence system is
all about. How close is that?
HAYDEN: Both numbers are classified. But for
the purposes of our discussion, I think that's a decent enough starting
LAMB: Is there anybody that's ever had as much
intelligence experience in the United States government as you've
HAYDEN: Oh, sure. Well, I think so.
LAMB: But I mean, let's start with things like
you ran Air Force intelligence.
HAYDEN: I was head of the Air Intelligence Agency,
which was kind of the operational arm of Air Force intelligence, right.
LAMB: What year did you do that?
HAYDEN: I was - it was in San Antonio - for '96
LAMB: And what was that job like?
HAYDEN: Again, if you want to picture this, if
you picture intelligence being divided - you can divide it many ways.
But if you divide it between wholesale and retail, where retail is
you're with the customer and you're providing the product, wholesale
is you're producing all of those products that stay in the storeroom
and you're not running the storefront. This was the wholesale intelligence
organization. It was about the acquisition of the vast volumes of
intelligence from which analysts then draw to make their judgments.
LAMB: You then at one point, for six years, back
in '99 through 2005, ran the National Security Agency.
LAMB: What's that?
HAYDEN: NSA is responsible for communications
intelligence. NSA has an offensive and a defensive squad. Most people
talk about the offensive squad, which is, in essence, intercepting
adversary communications so that we can learn what they're thinking,
what they're saying, what they intend to do. We are also, out of NSA,
charged with defending America's communications from those who would
do that activity to us. And you're right, Brian. I was out there for
LAMB: Were you there during the controversy?
HAYDEN: Which controversy?
LAMB: Well, the one, of course - the FISA controversy.
HAYDEN: Oh, yes. I mean, I was, for want of a
better phrase, present at the creation. Shortly after the attacks
in 2001, the agency was asked, could it do more? Could it do more
to defend the nation? And the answer I had to give was, within the
authorities that the agency currently had - this is late September
2001 - within those authorities, I thought that the agency, that NSA
was doing just about all it could do to defend the nation. If you
look at signals intelligence, the sweet spot is the overlap of about
three things. One is what's technologically possible. The second is
what's operationally relevant - is it useful? And the third is what's
lawful, what's legally permitted. That's the space - technological
relevance - technologically possible, operationally relevant and lawful
- that's the space that NSA plays in. We had maxed out that space.
And as the public record now is very clear, into early October, the
president expanded the lawfulness place, using both his inherent Article
Two of the Constitution authorities and the provisions of the AUMF
- the act passed by Congress, the Authorization for the Use of Military
Force. And so, NSA at that point was able to expand some of its activities,
given this special authorization from the president, to defend the
LAMB: What would you do if you thought you were
breaking the law?
HAYDEN: We can't break the law. You just can't
go - you just can't go to that place. In the current job at the CIA,
this past summer - after the Detainee Treatment Act had been passed
last December, December 2005 after the Hamdan decision, and so on
- I actually said fairly publicly to our workforce that, as director,
I have to be certain that that which I'm asking a CIA officer to do
is consistent with the Constitution, the laws and the international
treaty obligations of the United States. And that's why you saw that
bit of a scrum here in the fall, as we tried to get language in the
Military Commissions Act that clarified some aspects of the Geneva
Convention for the agency. Because without that clarification, I couldn't
tell our officers that sentence: "That which I'm about to ask you
to do is consistent with the Constitution, laws and international
treaty obligations of this country." If I can't say that, I can't
ask an officer to do it.
LAMB: Another general question from somebody
who has no idea how intelligence works. What's the biggest roadblock
they have outside their organization? In other words, what's the biggest
roadblock you might have outside of CIA to get the job done?
HAYDEN: Wow, that's a great question, because
on a day-to-day basis you focus on those things you touch inside the
agency or inside the intelligence community. One comes to mind. And
it may seem a bit odd, but I'll share it with you. One is helping
the public, helping government officials, either in the executive
branch or in the legislative branch, helping them to understand the
limits of our craft, to help us understand - help them understand
- the limits of intelligence. I was in front of a small group last
week, and one of the fellows - talking about our analysis, our ability
to analyze and give ground truth to a decision-maker, be it a military
commander or a policymaker. And the question was asked. He said, "Mike,
on a scale of one to 10, where are we now as a community?" And I said
to him - you know, probably being a little too irreverent, but not
being inaccurate - the first thing you've got to understand is, eight
and nine aren't on our scale. OK? If it's up at eight or nine, it's
generally not the business of intelligence. I mean, intelligence works
in a range of things that are inherently ambiguous. And even when
we're at the top of our game, it's very, very rare that we can give
certitude to a policymaker. And so, one of the things that I would
try to do - I am trying to do - is to inform both the public at large
and others within the government that, as good as we might be, 1.0
certainty with regards to our judgments, that's never going to be
LAMB: If the 100,000 figure is right, 16 different
agencies that report to the Director of National Intelligence, and
if the figure $45 billion is right, if you could have anything you
want, how many more people would you want and how much more money
would you want to spend?
HAYDEN: I could go through our budget and pick
out little niches there, where just a few more dollars - and in our
terms, you know, $10 million here or $20 million there - can really
make a difference. But by and large, the community as a whole, CIA
in particular, has benefited from the resources that the American
people - acting through the Congress and the president - the resources
the American people have given us since 9/11. Right now, my biggest
challenge is absorbing the growth we've had inside the agency and
putting these new resources to work in an efficient and effective
way. And it's - sure, it has something to do with the money, but it
really has to do with people. Let me give you a sense of scale here,
Brian. And I have to talk around it a little bit, because the numbers
are classified. But let me give you a sense. One-seventh of the Central
Intelligence Agency has been hired in the last 12 months. One-fifth
of our analysts have been hired in the last 12 months. Fifty percent
of the agency has been hired since 9/11. I mean, that's tremendous
growth. It's a tremendous opportunity.
LAMB: What's the age of those people?
HAYDEN: Actually, the average age of the agency
is coming down somewhat, because of this influx of new people. But
you have to understand, new to CIA doesn't always mean young. We are
very happy with a number of folks we're getting after military service
or after a stint in the military, or after they've actually done some
other things in life. In terms of that indicator, of these cohorts
who are coming into us now, this is the richest gathering of life
experience that we've had in entering cohorts in the history of the
agency. So we're not just getting the 22-, 23-year-old graduate from
universities. We're also getting people who have been around a bit.
LAMB: Are you getting more HUMINT?
HAYDEN: Yes, we are.
LAMB: And explain that.
HAYDEN: Sure. HUMINT is human intelligence, as
opposed to SIGINT, signals intelligence, IMINT, imagery intelligence.
It just describes the source from which you draw the information that
you then put into this common mix to create the backdrop for your
analysis. CIA is charged with analysis. We have the largest analytic
workforce - intelligence analytic workforce - in the federal government.
And it's not attached to any Cabinet department. And so, this is the
agency that provides the broad, strategic, not tied to one particular
department's analytic framework. But we're also charged with gathering
intelligence. And our expertise, our lane in the road is to gather
intelligence from human beings. It's to go out there and - as some
of my predecessors used to say, and I think it's quite accurate -
steal secrets. Steal things that those who would do us harm, those
who would act against American interests, would want us not to know.
LAMB: From an intelligence standpoint, why did
our intelligence system not know that there were no weapons of mass
HAYDEN: A complex problem. It's been held up
to the light like a prism. And we've looked at all the rays of light
coming out of it to better understand it. There are a variety of things.
I'll tick a few off, but we could spend the rest of our hour drilling
down, because we have drilled down on why we got the assessment wrong.
And there's no other way to describe it. One is, there was a lot of
evidence - and it appeared fairly compelling at the time, because
we obviously wouldn't have made the judgment had it not been - that
turns out to have been circumstantial. But there was a lot of it,
nonetheless. So, there was this body of evidence. And it was being
put in a framework, Brian. And this may be the one analytical piece
that could have turned this on its head. It was being put in a framework
in which I think there had been an assumption that he had these weapons.
I mean, he had had them. We knew that. He had lied about them. We
knew that. He had used them. We knew that. And so, given the pattern
of behavior of the Saddam Hussein government, as you had this ocean
of facts, they almost instinctively in our analytic mind self-organized
to support this preexistent understanding that he had the weapons.
There are a couple of other things, too, and I'm probably overstating
this. And if I had our analysts here, they would probably say, that's
about right, but you're missing nuance. By and large, the assessment
was done by our best WMD people, the people who handled weapons of
mass destruction. It probably wasn't washed enough through our Iraq
people, if you know what I mean. It was done by and large, you know,
when the page was blank - which is very important in our business,
to have that first shot at the blank page. When the page was blank,
the first draft of this is crafted by people who focus on weapons
of mass destruction as weapons of mass destruction, not by our people
who focus on Iraq as Iraq. And one of the lessons we've learned is
- and when we do these kinds of things in the future - you have got
to fold both of those things in together. Your technical expertise
has to - what does that purchase mean? What does the acquisition of
that dual-use chemical mean? You have to lash that up to the people
who know how does the Iraqi government make decisions. And who really
makes decisions, and why do they make these kinds of decisions? Those
have to be combined. Those all combined to create the NIE, the National
Intelligence Estimate, which was wrong. Now, truth in lending here.
I'm part of the NFIB at that time - National Foreign Intelligence
Board. George Tenet chairs it. I had the NIE in front of me. I'm the
director of NSA. I get to vote. And I can tell you, that all of us
see it - now, I'm not talking about … (CROSSTALK) We're talking about
signals intelligence, intercept to communications. All of the SIGINT
I had, when I looked at the key judgments of the National Intelligence
Estimate, my SIGINT ranged from ambiguous to confirmatory. And therefore,
I was - you know, and ambiguous in our business, I told you, is kind
of a state of nature. And so, I was quite comfortable to say, yes,
I agree with the NIE. I was comfortable. I was wrong. It turned out
not to be true. But that's the kind of dynamic that got behind the
creation of this product. We work very hard to kind of pull or weed
those kinds of approaches out of our analytic processes now. And so,
you'll see an awful lot of energy on the part of our analysts, looking
for hidden assumptions, challenging first principles, consciously
arguing for alternative cases, so as to kind of rub that acceptance
story, rub that common wisdom up against an alternative view and see
how it fares.
LAMB: You are quoted as saying a couple of months
ago that you love George Tenet like a brother.
HAYDEN: I did, and I still do.
HAYDEN: Oh, if you know George, it'd be almost
self-explanatory. George hired me to be the director of NSA back in
1999. I was working in Korea at U.S. forces at that time. I had not
held an office at the national level in the intelligence community
before. We became good friends. I thought I could share with him honestly
and openly and directly, and I did. We have hotlines all around town.
George's hotline in my office at Fort Meade would ring routinely.
"Mike, here's what I need," or "Mike, what do you think about this?"
"Mike, could you have your guys check?" That kind of relationship.
A straight-up guy, who had nothing but the interests of the republic
as his goal 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
LAMB: If you get on the HarperCollins Web site,
they have a kind of a clock that says, X number of hours or days before
the book. The book's due out on April the 30th, the George Tenet book.
Do you know what's in it?
HAYDEN: George had to submit his book for security
review to our agency, and he did. We've got processes for that. That's
not something where the director has to take every chapter home and
do line-in and line-out changes with regard to security. And I should
emphasize, it's a security review, not a "well, this one makes me
comfortable, this one makes uncomfortable" review. It was just for
security. I was consulted in a couple of instances with regard to
some security questions. George asked me to take a look at some text
with regard to the NSA program, because I had been the director of
NSA. But to say I've read the book would be a real long reach. No.
LAMB: So, what do you think the impact of that
book will be? Clearly, everybody's waiting for it.
HAYDEN: George is a straight shooter. He's going
to write, I suspect, his vision of how things had happened. I think
he's going to talk a lot - in fact, he and I have talked about the
book a bit. I mean, everyone's going to focus in on what frankly might
be the back half of the book and how it relates to weapons of mass
destruction, and so on. George and I have talked. He's going to spend
an awful lot of time, you know, on what he did at CIA prior to September
of 2001, what he was trying to do to rejuvenate both American intelligence,
writ large, as a DCI, and CIA, because he was the director there.
I mean, he took an agency that, you know, by all the metrics that
things get measured in this town - you know, money, people, interests
- all the ramps were going down. And he took that agency and he reversed
it. George is still a very, very popular man at CIA for the personal
sacrifices he made for the agency.
LAMB: What about Peter Goss?
LAMB: I mean Porter Goss, excuse me.
HAYDEN: Yes, Porter has been a friend of mine.
I told you that George hired me back in 1999 to be the head of NSA.
And I came back and got confirmed by the Senate. And very early in
my tenure - it was probably April of '99 - I paid a courtesy call
on the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Porter Goss.
And that started an equally strong friendship with Porter, who has
treated me with respect and dignity and as a partner, as someone who
had common goals, even though he was on the Oversight Committee and
I was heading a major agency. Consider him to be a good friend, as
well. He went to the agency in an incredibly difficult time. Number
one, the agency was appearing in the press far too often for America's
secret intelligence organization. You may recall, in my confirmation
hearing I talked about getting CIA out of the press as source or subject.
And I did that, because the preceding 12 months it was almost daily
that the agency was in the paper and very often being criticized,
and very often being criticized unfairly.
LAMB: How did you get it out of the press, then?
HAYDEN: Well, we worked very hard to, one, open
up communications inside the agency.
LAMB: How did you do that?
HAYDEN: We've got a free e-mail policy. I get
a lot of e-mails every day. And we answer them. I have taken to sending
e-mails to the workforce. I'll make a foreign trip, visit with a partner.
I'll just write it up. It's more chatty than it is a formal memo of
what happened on the trip, but people know. When I get a phone call
from a military commander in Afghanistan or in Iraq that says, "Hey,
Mike, I want to thank you. We just did this, and your guys created
the opportunities to do that," I'll turn that into an e-mail and I'll
send it to the entire agency, saying, hey, just got a call from -
fill in the blank - and he wanted to thank us for our work on - and
I describe that. So, there's a powerful effort on our part to increase
the amount of communication within the agency, to explain to the larger
workforce what the agency is doing and why. We've even reached out
to the alumni community. We do have e-mail accounts for a large portion
of our alumni. So, of those messages I just described for you that
we can make unclassified, we send to the alumni, as well. We've found
that people have a comfort level that their views are heard inside
the agency, there's less of a tendency for legitimate, or perhaps
not so legitimate, reasons to go outside the agency. And that seems
to have worked.
LAMB: You were for a year the deputy director
to the - to John Negroponte …
LAMB: … of the national intelligence. What did
HAYDEN: I learned how tough a job that Ambassador
Negroponte, and now Admiral Mike McConnell, have. It broadened my
perspectives, the way Ambassador Negroponte and I kind of divided
up our inboxes. There are actually two functions for the DNI office.
One is senior intel advisor to the president. The other is kind of
managing the intelligence community. Clearly, you've got to be interchangeable.
You've got to go back and forth. But on balance, I think the ambassador
played first string when it came to being senior intelligence advisor
to the president. And to a first order, he relied on me to do the
kind of day-to-day functioning with regard to the intelligence community.
That was discovery learning for me, even though I'd been at NSA for
six years. I learned a great deal about how things work or don't work
together in a community as large as 16 separate organizations.
LAMB: The "New York Times," Mark Mazzetti had
an article I'm sure you saw last week, "Intelligence chief finds that
challenges abound." They still haven't got a deputy with Vice Admiral
McConnell, who retired 10 years ago and is back in service. He says
he grumbled a bit about his long hours, gets up at 4 a.m., has to
brief the president every day. You said that you liked the fact you
don't have to brief the president every day.
HAYDEN: What I said is that, I know the DNI's
schedule. I know Admiral McConnell's schedule. I jump in the back
of the car at my house about 6:45 in the morning, and I've got the
president's brief and a whole bunch of other things there, and a briefer.
We work on it going up to Langley. And we get to Langley about 7:20,
7:25, depending on the day of the week, finish the book, get that
sheath of cables and intelligence reports and the president's daily
brief. And about 10 minutes to eight, on average, I'm done with that.
At that point, I've kind of absorbed the overnight events in the world,
and I'm ready to actually be the director of the Central Intelligence
Agency. Admiral McConnell is still waiting to go into the Oval Office.
That's a tremendous advantage for me, the ability to focus on CIA
and to spend most of my energy, most of my waking moments making CIA
as good as it can be. That's been a real benefit, I think, for the
agency of this new structure, because Porter, for a bit, and George,
before him, had to do what the Admiral is now doing. And by the time
you kind of cleared the zone down there in the White House and got
back out to Langley, even on a very good day it was after nine. And
on some other days, it was well after that. That's hard.
LAMB: What's the biggest in terms of people -
the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency?
HAYDEN: Can't get into specific numbers, but
in terms of people …
LAMB: I read that DIA has 8,000 people.
HAYDEN: In terms of people, in terms of relative
size, NSA is the largest.
LAMB: NSA is the largest.
LAMB: And again, satellites up there, all kinds
of ways to listen to people's conversation. Knowing what you know,
should the public be at all worried that their conversations are being
HAYDEN: No. No. I really mean that.
LAMB: How do we know?
HAYDEN: Isn't that the most difficult thing?
In my heart of hearts, if I could go out there - the metaphor I use
is my dad, OK. If I could just go to my dad in his easy chair and
explain this to him - whatever "this" is, some or other aspect of
what American intelligence is doing - I'm convinced he'd say, "OK.
I can agree to that. That's good." The problem we have is, I can't
brief what CIA is doing, or I could not brief what NSA was doing.
And you mentioned earlier the president's terrorist surveillance program.
I can't brief that to a quarter-billion Americans and still keep it
effective. Because, if we made it that public, our adversaries would
also, naturally, know so much about it, that the program would lose
its operational effectiveness. Remember those three criteria that
I described earlier. And so, we can't do that. We've got a different
formula. It was created about 30 years ago in the Church-Pike era.
And that's the two oversight committees, the House Intelligence Committee
and the Senate Intelligence Committee.
LAMB: In the '70s, Frank Church, Otis Pike.
HAYDEN: Exactly right. And out of that, out of
that episode came this intelligence committee structure in which,
once again, in the same way you can't tell a quarter-billion Americans
what you're doing, it's also tough to tell 535 senators and representatives
what you're doing. But the Congress has organized itself into two
select committees, one in the House and one in the Senate. And that's
my linkage - me as CIA, me as NSA - any one of us in the intelligence
community, that's our linkage to the American people, that we have
to display what it is we're doing to them. They become the surrogates
for the quarter-billion Americans out there.
LAMB: How do they know?
HAYDEN: We have to tell them.
LAMB: But how - you know, we went through this
great crisis over the FISA court, where you weren't going to the court.
HAYDEN: Right. Well, there's a good history -
there's a powerful history, and it's part of the public record - as
to how many times members of Congress were briefed on the NSA program
prior to the "New York Times" story. I was the one who gave all the
briefings. I was very comfortable that - you know, sometimes you get
a little too irreverent in this business, right? But when I prepped
for any one of those briefings - and I was with my team at NSA - I
had one goal in mind, and I articulated it to these wonderful experts
out there at the National Security Agency. I said, there's one thing
for sure. I don't want any of these people ever in the future, when
ultimately this becomes public - because we know that it will - I
don't want anyone to say, "Well, I got a briefing, but I had no idea."
I said, no, no. This briefing is going to be whole, complete and -
it's the phrase I used at the time - everyone's got to understand
this is bigger than a breadbox, in terms of what it is we're doing.
That's - number one, that's required. That's legitimate. As, again,
I can't tell a quarter-billion Americans, but I have to be able to
tell the committees, or, in this case, the leadership of the committees,
because of the sensitivity of the activity. And you have to tell them
fully. In my current job, I'm not called on to brief about the NSA
program. I'm called on to talk to the oversight committees about CIA
activities. And you get phrases like detentions, interrogations, renditions,
and so on. And we have worked very hard to make sure the committees
are as informed as possible about every aspect of those programs.
LAMB: What role should the media play, do you
HAYDEN: That is a really challenging question,
and particularly challenging for someone in my profession and, in
fact, in my job right now. The media plays a very powerful role. Trust
us. People who work at CIA are as interested in the First Amendment
as any other group of Americans. But I'd have to say, there is sometimes
- what's the right word, Brian - an instinct on the part of the media
to take a story into the darkest corner of the room. Take a story
which may or not be fact-based, or maybe not all of the facts are
correct facts, and so on, but you take the story and you move it to
the most threatening aspect. And here we are - fill in the blank,
NSA, CIA - in a very real sense unable to defend ourselves publicly,
because we can't enter into the debate about the story, because to
enter into the debate would actually reveal even more information
that would be helpful to those who would do the republic harm. There
are some really wonderful people out there working the intel beat.
You've got Walter Pincus at the "Post" and Mark Mazzetti at the "New
York Times," Katie Shrader, Associated Press. They work very, very
hard. And obviously, I'm rattling off names. Clearly, in the course
of our business, we talk with them. But they're working in a secret
world, and they're seeing shards of glass rather than the entire mosaic.
And they're trying to make sense out of this picture with frequently
very, very few pieces. The very best of them play it with the facts
and do not naturally assume evil. There are others who don't seem
to have that instinct. And when I said "naturally assume evil," let
me put a glass on that to explain why I say that. We are a powerful,
secret organization inside of a political culture that only distrusts
two things: power and secrecy. And so, there is a natural tendency
to take any story about us, and as I said before, shove it into the
darkest corner of the room. The best people of the press who cover
us don't do that instinctively, or fight that instinct and let the
data take them where it does.
LAMB: Let me ask you a question that - well,
I don't even know if you want to answer it. Have you ever leaked anything
to the press?
HAYDEN: Leak is the unauthorized disclosure of
LAMB: Have you ever said to somebody, hey, get
this to Mark Mazzetti. This will help us.
HAYDEN: By and large, we're responding. OK. Mark
LAMB: By …
HAYDEN: … or Walter Pincus or Katie Shrader,
or some other correspondent, will call us about an issue. "Hey, this
is what I'm hearing." And then what we have to talk about, what we
have to decide is, what can we say about it? And there are all sorts
of factors here, OK. And they all have to overlap, otherwise you can't
do it. Number one, what you say has to be true. That's one. Number
two, what it is you say cannot do harm to sources, methods, operations,
and so on. Number three, what it is you say has to be lawful. And
in this case, I'm not even talking about secrets. In many of these
instances, personalities get embroiled with it, and the intel thing
is a backdrop to the real story, which is some sort of personality
or a political clash. Even there, there are limits on the appropriateness
with regard to individuals' privacy - things you may know that clarify
the question, but you cannot reveal, because of the privacy of the
LAMB: The public sits out and looks at this 100,000
people, 16 different agencies, $45 billion and says, the only chance
we have of really knowing the truth - and that's some of the public
- is when somebody leaks out to the press information that sheds light
on some wrongdoing that's going on.
HAYDEN: There are lots of ways that any wrongdoing,
where it could be occurring, can be revealed. We talk about whistleblowers.
And the general public understanding of that word is someone who goes
and talks to the press. That's not correct. I mean, whistleblower
is a legal term of art. And there are procedures for someone who believes
something unlawful is taking place to make that claim known in a way
that the individual is protected, to make that known to the inspector
general of the agency involved and to the appropriate oversight committee.
Now, Brian, you know, I've been around town enough to know that's
not always easy, that that may from time to time require some personal
courage. But there are procedures in place for someone, if they believe
something unlawful is taking place, to make that known to someone
else in authority, so that appropriate action can be taken.
LAMB: What do they say - I mean, one of the things
I did is, I looked at all the intelligence communities. And almost
every organization is run by somebody in the military with stars on
their shoulders. You've got four stars. That's highly unusual for
somebody in the intelligence community to have four stars.
LAMB: You've got them. How much longer are you
going to be in the service? Or how much longer can you be in the service?
HAYDEN: You know, I can give you a real clear
answer to that: I don't know. I was on active duty in the deputy job
as the DNI. That's almost required by law, not quite. But the law
- the law that created the DNI - says that the DNI or his deputy should
be someone with substantial military experience. And so, I was the
one who got that box checked working under Ambassador Negroponte.
When the president asked me to switch jobs, about a year ago now,
and moved to CIA, it was just easier for me to switch jobs in my capacity
as a uniformed officer. It didn't carry any messages, didn't carry
any meaning - certainly not for me. Some other people thought it might,
but I said I didn't think it would. But if it did, I'd do the right
thing. That's not been a factor being out there at the agency. There
are a fair number of people with military experience now at the leadership
positions in the intelligence community.
LAMB: Well, aren't they all? I mean …
HAYDEN: Well, I mean, you've got some exceptions
here. All right. You've got the undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
The nominee is Jim Clapper. Jim's a retired three-star. His predecessor,
Steve Cambone, is a civilian, a career civilian. You have got the
director of national intelligence, vice admiral, retired, Mike McConnell.
His predecessor was a career diplomat. So, there is - there are kind
of a lot from my club in these positions …
LAMB: I don't want to make it sound like it's
a negative, as much as, given the military structure and the advancement
opportunities, and all that stuff, and then the politicians, the civilians
who have been elected, how do we get the independence in these groups?
HAYDEN: Oh, well, now, the …
LAMB: How are you protected if you want to come
out strongly against something, a policy that the president wants
HAYDEN: Oh, that's easy. That's easy. I mean,
in terms - I see your point now, that perhaps I'm under some military
chain of command that would cause me to mute my views if they ran
counter. No, I'm not. I'm not in any military chain of command. I
mean, my relationship with the Air Force is I am an active duty Air
Force officer, but I don't report to the chief of staff of the Air
Force. I don't report to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
I report to Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence,
and after him, to the president. So, it's not that kind of problem
for us. I know some people have written about this. I would suggest
that people think that the fact that you've got the kind of people
like myself, some retired people in these key positions, to simply
conclude that they were the best athletes available in the draft at
this particular point in time. They were the best people available.
LAMB: Is stovepiping still going on?
LAMB: And explain what that is.
HAYDEN: Yes. Stovepiping describes an agency
- I'm going to give you the non-pejorative, non-condemnatory description
of stovepiping - an agency so focused on its mission, that's it's
drilled down on the difficulties of accomplishing its own task, that
it doesn't pull its head out of the scope and look around to see what's
happening to the left of them and to the right of them. I answered,
yes, of course it still happens. It's human nature. These tasks that
the intelligence community are required to do are incredibly complicated.
I'll use an older example from a previous life of mine at NSA. To
take a conversation for which you are not the intended recipient,
to intercept it, process it just like the communications pass that
you were sitting on processes it, to turn the beeps and squeaks into
something intelligible to the human ear, to take something spoken
in a foreign language - perhaps spoken by two jihadists, whose ability
to distinguish the word as it is from the word as they want it to
be may not be the same as yours - and to take all of that and turn
it into a useful intelligence product, that requires a lot of focus.
That requires an awful lot of what I'll call "specialization." And
the more you become specialized at that task, human nature being what
it is, the less inclined you are to kind of look over here to see
what the other guys are doing. That's the challenge. So, when you
say "stovepiping" - I've given up stovepipes. I don't use that word
anymore. I use "silos." And when I'm in a really good mood, I use
the word I just used a minute ago - "specializations." Western man
- modern man - has had this problem. As we have turned units of work
into discrete parts, so that we can perform it with great precision
and skill and speed, you had the challenge of organizing the parts,
so that the overall effect is what you want. That's the life of the
American intelligence community. That's the challenge we have. So,
when you say stovepipes or silos or specialization, you're describing
a condition. You shouldn't impute guilt to it.
LAMB: Where did you grow up? I want to ask you
about your background.
HAYDEN: On the north side of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
right between where the two ballparks are now, between Heinz Field
and PNC Park.
LAMB: What was your childhood like?
HAYDEN: I had a great childhood. Small neighborhood,
kind of tucked up against the Allegheny River, between the Allegheny
River and the Pennsylvania Railroad line. So, it was kind of set off
by itself. Had enough kids my age to play ball, depending on what
time of year it was. Always could throw a ball on the playground and
somebody would come to it, whether it was a football, baseball or
LAMB: What did your parents do?
HAYDEN: My dad was a welder for Allis-Chalmers.
LAMB: How about your mom?
HAYDEN: Mom was mom.
LAMB: How many kids in your family?
HAYDEN: We had three. I've got a brother who
still lives in Pittsburgh, a sister who lives in Steubenville.
LAMB: And where did you go to college?
HAYDEN: Duquesne. I used to walk to school from
the north side. Duquesne is in downtown Pittsburgh. Just walked across
the Allegheny to school.
LAMB: What did you study?
HAYDEN: I studied history as an undergraduate,
and stayed at Duquesne for a master's degree in modern U.S. history.
LAMB: When did you first get interested in intelligence,
HAYDEN: I was in ROTC at Duquesne. It was during
the Vietnam War. ROTC was mandatory for all of the male students at
Duquesne. I joined it. The Air Force seemed interesting. When I looked
at the things I thought I might be interested in doing inside the
Air Force, with a history major there seemed to be a natural connection
to intelligence. I put that down on what we call our dream sheet,
and I was selected to go to intel school with my first assignment
LAMB: Why did you stay in the field?
HAYDEN: I haven't always. And I know I'm kind
of identified as an intel guy now. And that badge there is an intel
badge. But about the time I was a senior colonel, about the time I
was selected to be a brigadier general, I had spent about half my
career outside of intelligence. I was an ROTC instructor for four
years. I was an attache for a couple of years.
LAMB: In Bulgaria.
HAYDEN: In Bulgaria, yes. I did policy work on
the National Security Council and at Air Force headquarters for about
a half-a-dozen years total. But since being selected for brigadier,
all of my jobs but one have been in intelligence. I'll add, too, I'm
a better intelligence officer for having those other jobs, for having
those jobs at the NSC in a policy field, for having that job on the
Air Staff in a policy field. In effect, being a customer of intelligence
has made me an awful lot smarter about what good intelligence really
LAMB: Impact of working on the National Security
Council in defense matters for George Herbert Walker Bush, number
HAYDEN: Honored to do it. Spent just about two
years there. Worked for some wonderful folks - Arnie Kantor, who went
on to be the number three guy at State Department. John Gordon went
on to become a four-star officer in the Air Force. I was in the Arms
Control and Defense Policy Directorate, and I kind of had to thin-slice
it with defense policy, because, if you remember, at that time, arms
control was a thriving industry in the capital city. I wrote President
Bush's national security strategy over those years I was in the National
Security Council staff.
LAMB: Where was the first time you met Robert
HAYDEN: Secretary Gates was the deputy national
security advisor. I probably met him within the first month or so
of my arriving on the NSC staff at one or another meeting there.
LAMB: And so, what - the fact that he's been
at CIA and he is now secretary of defense, and you read all the differences
of opinion between Donald Rumsfeld and the intelligence community,
what impact is it that you're at CIA and he's at Defense? What's the
difference between the old days?
HAYDEN: Well, I mean, for those who say that
my position as a uniformed officer as the head of CIA means defense
is taking over intelligence, we have an antidote for that. We have
a career intelligence officer who is now the secretary of defense.
That's one thing. To be very candid, the urban legend out there that
there was a constant battle between Secretary Rumsfeld's Pentagon
and the intelligence community, that's simply not true. They had a
lot of good things happening. Steve Cambone, I've mentioned earlier,
was Secretary Rumsfeld's undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
Steve was a personal friend. I mean, I had not known him before, but
we developed a personal friendship. We did an awful lot of things
together professionally. And so, the kind of an authority out there
that it was always like this - that's simply not true. Now, with Secretary
Gates arriving, it gives you a chance for fresh beginnings. It gives
you a chance to bring up perhaps ideas that no one had had before,
because you've got new players on the scene with both Secretary Gates
and Admiral McConnell. So, I suspect we may be trying some other things.
LAMB: Anybody watching this probably at this
point says, you know, this Michael Hayden guy is a nice guy. But you're
sitting there with four stars on your soldier. I remember what you
did when generals came around. When do people know you're mad? Or
you're irritated, or you - when do they see you being tough?
HAYDEN: As you say, I was at NSA for six years.
And I probably got really, viscerally angry half a dozen times in
LAMB: About what kind of things?
HAYDEN: Ah, well, one - we were doing something.
We were trying to change one or another process. And the fellow whom
I entrusted to do it came in and kind of gave me an explanation that
I thought really didn't rely on anything much beyond goodwill. And
that's not the answer I wanted. And I kind of responded to that. I
find chewing the rug is not an incredibly effective leadership technique.
LAMB: What is effective?
HAYDEN: Being relentless. Meaning what you say.
And when you say it, you mean it, and you follow up on it. And if
it doesn't show up, you ask where it is. And you kind of give people
an incentive - positive or negative - as to why you really meant what
you said. Do you know how big and complicated CIA is? If you try to
draw even high-order significance decisions all up to the seventh
floor suite, you'll bring the agency to a stop. I think the real trick
for leadership of an organization like CIA is to empower people, to
put yourself in a position where you're removing impediments to their
behavior. Now, you've got to intervene. You're the one who would talk
to the president. You're the one who goes to the NSC meetings. You've
kind of got the side picture of broad policy. You probably have the
widest field of view of anyone in the agency. So, you can't put it
on autopilot and, you know, go to a teatime every day. But there's
an awful lot that gets done there, that you just need to give it its
head and good things will happen.
LAMB: Let me guess, then, because we go back
to - you talked about the media and the Iraq war. Let me guess what
happened, and knock this down if it isn't true. The White House wanted
to go to war. They wanted the intelligence to support it. They have
a personal conversation with a George Tenet and say, "I want" - you
know, "Find me information that will help us go to war." People inside
got mad - inside the CIA and other places - and leaked information
to the media, which said we're being asked to find this information
that will help us support this war. And we don't like it. And even
if that's not accurate, somebody who is anti-war inside the CIA says,
"I don't like the idea we're going to war. I'm going to try to mess
this up." How much of that is true?
HAYDEN: You know, I wasn't in the agency at the
time, so I'm …
LAMB: Well, how do you prevent yourself from
getting in that position?
HAYDEN: OK. Now, there's a question that deserves
to be addressed. It's back to that nexus of the world as it is and
the world as you would like it to be. This is hard. I mean, we're
really talking about intelligence at the highest levels of the U.S.
government setting the broad direction for the nation. In my confirmation
testimony I got a question along these lines. And I said, you know,
I've got 16 years of Catholic education. I know the difference between
inductive and deductive reasoning. I also know they're both legitimate,
OK, and one can reason from facts up to principles, and one can reason
down from principles to specifics. They are both legitimate forms
of reasoning. I'm an intelligence officer. My center of gravity has
got to be over here on induction, that you work from facts and you
allow the facts to present themselves. And from the facts you gather
broad trends, broad judgments, other kinds of generalities. But I
also know there's this other form of reasoning, that people come into
the room with their reasoning based upon first principles. You just
can't shut that down. You just can't - you just can't throw that away.
Your facts - your fact-derived conclusions, your induction, OK, has
to stand its own ground. Let me - I have a very specific point, and
it's been a sore point, and I've had it touched during my confirmation
and it's recently been in the press, and in that, Secretary Feith
and his work with regard to the al Qaeda-Iraq connection. I have been
asked by people what I think about that, and I just kind of shrug
my shoulders. And I said, it was an alternative view. It was wrong.
We didn't agree with it. It was an alternative view, though. Should
I be rending my garments that an undersecretary of defense decided
to challenge the conclusions of the intelligence community, that an
undersecretary of defense decided to take his own fresh look at the
evidence and come up with this - come up with his own conclusions?
I don't think so. I think, if I'm right, I should go out and say why
I'm right, and I should say what evidence supports why I say that,
and move on. So, I think there may be less here than meets the eye
in some of these controversies.
LAMB: We're about finished, but I want to ask
you - this is complicated, and the audience may yawn about this -
but I want to ask you this, because it was a major issue around you,
and it had to do with the Fourth Amendment. I went back and found
a testimony that you had the 12th of April, 2000, in which you testified
- I believe it was for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
HAYDEN: That's right.
LAMB: I'm going to read …
HAYDEN: An open session.
LAMB: I want to read this. "Under FISA, NSA may
only target communications of a U.S. person in the United States if
a federal judge finds probable cause to believe that the U.S. person
is an agent of a foreign power. Probable cause exists when facts and
circumstances within the applicant's knowledge, and of which he or
she has reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient to warrant
a person of reasonable caution to believe that the proposed target
of the surveillance is an agent of a foreign power." Lots of words.
LAMB: Then you got into it with Jonathan Landay
at the Press Club, when you gave a speech January 23, 2006, before
you got into this job, in which you were asked about this, and then
you - about the whole probable cause thing. And you said, "the Fourth
Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search
and seizure." And he kept pressing you on that.
HAYDEN: I remember.
LAMB: But you wouldn't go for the probable cause.
What's - why not?
HAYDEN: If you look at the amendment, all right
- and by the way, Jonathan and I have talked about this, and I think
we've come to agreement we were both right. This is the way we've
done it, over a beer, at a cocktail party later on. What I was trying
to describe at the Press Club was the overall principle under which
NSA has to operate, which is to protect the reasonableness standard
in the Fourth Amendment. This has to do with warrant. And if you look
at the amendment, there's actually two parts to the amendment. We
are all protected against unreasonable search and seizure.
LAMB: Let me read the amendment right now, so
that everybody knows …
LAMB: We haven't got much time. The Fourth Amendment.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers
and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be
violated, and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause supported
by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be
searched and the persons or things to be seized.
HAYDEN: Correct. There are two parts. We are
protected against unreasonable search and seizure in all circumstances.
When our law sets up a requirement for a warrant before search can
be conducted, the warrant must be based upon probable cause. There
is a distinction. Bear with me. Somebody wants to go into your car
to find a document, I'll bet you they need a warrant. You go out to
Dulles and get in line and go through that checkpoint, they're going
to open up your bags. There's no warrant there. It's reasonable, but
it doesn't require a warrant. It doesn't require the probable cause
standard. NSA intercepts communications all the time. In the world
as it is, the likelihood that NSA is going to collect information
to, from or about U.S. persons is very, very high. No one has ever
claimed NSA needs a warrant in all those instances. In all of those
instances, however, you have a right to expect a reasonable protection
for your privacy. That's the point I was trying to make.
LAMB: General Michael Hayden, head of the CIA,
we're out of business, we're out of time. Thank you very much for
HAYDEN: Thank you, Brian.
Transcript used with C-SPAN's permission.