Transcript of Remarks by Central Intelligence
Gen. Michael V. Hayden
at the Council on Foreign Relations
(Posted with permission from the Council on Foreign Relations;
visit the CFR Web site at www.cfr.org [external link disclaimer])
September 7, 2007
STEPHEN FRIEDMAN: Now
it's going to be my pleasure to introduce the general. First let me
just give you the normal council ground rules for this type of meeting.
Please turn off your cellphones and BlackBerries and any other wireless
devices. Remember this meeting is very much on the record. In fact,
it is being teleconferenced.
Now just brief words about Mike Hayden:
here who's had the privilege of working with senior leadership in our
uniformed military knows the talent that we're fortunate as a nation to
have. Mike Hayden is one of the few people in the -- in our military
history who's attained his fourth star as an intel pro, which is a
measure of the esteem in which he's held by people who deal with him
and by his leaders.
For those who worry about the importance of
truth being spoken to power, when it is in Hayden's watch, I think you
have no need to fear. He is a very direct person, and today you'll all
benefit from that. So let me just introduce General Mike Hayden.
GENERAL MICHAEL V. HAYDEN: Thank you, Steve. That's
very kind. I'm almost overwhelmed by that line-up you had there. I
assure you, I'm the lead-off hitter, and my only purpose is to just get
on base for the folks who are coming behind me. (Laughter.)
for the opportunity to be here, and it's a pleasure to be in New York,
to spend some time with such a distinguished group -- I'm looking out
here, seeing a lot of familiar faces and old friends -- and an
opportunity to talk about the organization I actually have the
privilege to lead, the Central Intelligence Agency.
organization with a clear objective: to protect the American people.
We have a number of missions that feed into that, to protect America,
and one of those missions we share with the council, which is to help
our policymakers make sense of global events.
And the range of
issues before us both are as wide as the world we both study: nuclear
proliferation, emerging security threats, the rise of new economic
centers, scramble for natural resources, and the list goes on.
nation counts on us to have the expertise and the insight to flag the
risks and the opportunities that lie ahead, and to keep our eye on all
the critical international concerns that face our nation right now.
of the subjects we cover, none commands more attention than terrorism.
I think it's very unlikely that there will ever come a time when a CIA
director visits New York and his or her thoughts aren't shaped by
9/11. We're at war, and this city, still strong and vibrant, has been
a battlefield in that war.
Now, I don't make a lot of public
speeches. That's probably the way it should be for someone in my line
of work. But I actually asked Richard and the council to be able to
speak to you today.
Like anyone who feels deeply about the
safety and well-being of his countrymen, and the value and the
integrity of his colleagues, I believe there are some things that need
to be said.
Let me repeat that. Like anyone who feels deeply
about the safety and well-being of his countrymen, and the value and
integrity of his colleagues, there are things that should be said. And
sometimes our citizens should hear them from the person who's running
their Central Intelligence Agency.
So this afternoon, I want to
talk to you about the agency, the new kind of war that our nation has
asked us to fight, and something I'm going to call the question of
space. If you take nothing else from what I say here this afternoon, I
hope it will be this. Our agency, the CIA, operates only within the
space given to us by the American people. That's how we want it to be,
and that's how it should be.
That space is defined by the
policymakers that we all elect and by the laws our representatives
pass. But once the laws are passed and the boundaries are set, the
American people expect CIA to use every inch we're given to protect our
So let's talk a little bit about that space.
The intelligence services of free societies operate within strict
limits. To my way of thinking, those boundaries here in America
reflect the principles of the republic that are most worth defending.
We at CIA work very hard to live up to them, even as we operate in the
shadow world of espionage.
That sets up a natural tension, but
frankly, for us, that's simply the cost of doing business. Our agency
is convinced, absolutely convinced, that it's our obligation to conform
to the needs of our free society and not vice versa.
the society that we all signed up to defend. So no matter what the
external threat is, we at CIA feel just as strongly as any American
that our DNA as a nation must not, cannot be altered.
most Americans, it's also our responsibility to confront that external
threat unceasingly, every minute of every hour. And that, too, is an
obligation that we at CIA feel very acutely.
So let me make very
clear how my agency views the fight at hand. I think it speaks to what
a lot of Americans believe, as well. But here's how we see it.
nation is in a state of armed conflict with al Qaeda and its
affiliates. It's a conflict that is global in scope, and a
precondition for winning that conflict is to take the fight to the
enemy wherever he may be. From my vantage point, measured by the
required intensity of effort or the profound nature of the threat, it's
very hard to see this thing as anything less than war. I've seen
public references to, quote, "the so-called war on terrorism" or,
quote, "the Bush's administration's war on terrorism," but for us it's
simply war. It's a word we use commonly without ambiguity in the halls
of the Pentagon and at Langley.
We who study and target this
enemy see a danger more real than anything our citizens at home have
confronted since our Civil War. And even when you consider the Cold
War and mutually assured destruction, in which the potential danger was
actually catastrophic, the fact is the destruction never came. This
war is different. In a very real sense, anyone who lives or works in a
major city is as much a potential target as the victims of 9/11 or of
the London subway bombings or the strikes in Madrid or any of the other
operations we've seen in Morocco, Jordan, Indonesia, Algeria, Pakistan,
Kenya and elsewhere.
That's my take on the strategic threat we
face, and that's without the precise language of a National
Intelligence Estimate. But the National Intelligence Council did
publish its findings on that threat to the homeland earlier this
summer. You had analysts in CIA and from throughout the intelligence
community engage in a very careful, meticulous study of the issues
based on their expertise and based on both open and classified
sources. And I think they did a good job and I have tremendous respect
for their work, and for us here this afternoon, I'd like to draw from
their judgments to the extent I can in this public setting.
our analysts assess with high confidence that al Qaeda's central
leadership is planning high-impact plots against the American
Second, those same analysts assess -- again, with
high confidence -- that al Qaeda has protected or regenerated key
elements of its homeland attack capability. That means safe haven in
the tribal areas of Pakistan. That means operational lieutenants.
That means a top leadership engaged in planning. Al Qaeda's success
with that last remaining element, which is planning operatives in this
country, is less certain.
And third, we assess -- once again,
with high confidence -- that al Qaeda is focusing on targets that would
produce mass casualties, dramatic destruction and significant economic
I want to be as clear as I can about the danger we
face. I want to do that for two reasons. First, I'm the CIA director,
and warning about foreign threats to our security is actually part of
my job. But second, in discussing the operational space available to
my agency, I want to explain to you, and through you to the American
people, exactly why we feel so strongly about using every inch we have
We bear responsibility for standing watch on this
threat. That fact alone has the very distinctive effect of focusing
the mind. But we bear an additional responsibility, as well. We're
charged with prosecuting an expeditionary campaign to actually help
capture or kill those behind the threat. And this, this is a form of
warfare unlike any other in our country's history.
intelligence war as much as a military one. Actually, maybe it's an
intelligence war more than it's a military one. In the post-9/11 era,
intelligence is more crucial to the security of the republic than ever
before. Now, that's, I recognize, a pretty sweeping assertion, so let
me try to spell out what I mean with maybe an historical analogy.
mentioned mutually assured destruction in the Cold War. If that war
ever came, the Soviet Union's most deadly forces -- ICBMs, tank armies
-- they were actually relatively easy to find, but they were very hard
to kill. Intelligence was important, don't get me wrong, but
intelligence was overshadowed by the need for raw, shear fire power.
the situation is reversed. We're now in an age in which our primary
adversary is easy to kill, he's just very hard to find. So you can
understand why so much emphasis in the last five years has been placed
on intelligence. Moreover, the moment of an enemy's attack may be just
that, a moment, a split second, the time it takes for an airliner to
crash or a bomb to detonate. There can be little or no time to defeat
him on the battlefield he's chosen.
But behind that point of
attack, behind that battlefield he's picked is a trail, a trail of
planning, travel, communications, training and all of the other
elements that go into a large scale terrorist operation. This is where
there are secrets we can steal, operatives we can capture and
interrogate, plots we can and must disrupt. That's the theater of
operations for your -- for America's clandestine intelligence service.
That's where the American people expect us to fight, and in this fight,
we've leveraged every inch of the space, the space we've been given to
I want to briefly discuss two important aspects of our
post-9/11 operations to put them into proper perspective, and they have
to do with that space question. First is our rendition, detention and
interrogation programs, and then I want to talk a little bit about our
close collaboration with allied intelligence services.
first thing you need to know about those renditions, detentions and
interrogations programs, which, I should add, are very carefully
controlled and lawfully conducted, is that although I'm talking about
them today, they are hardly the centerpiece of our effort, nor are they
nearly as big as some think. But the intelligence they've produced is
absolutely irreplaceable, and that intelligence has been used not only
by this nation's national security agencies, but by our fellow members
of the Atlantic alliance and other allies. It's been crucial in giving
us a better understanding of the enemy we face as well as leads on
taking other terrorists off the battlefield.
sometimes described as an analogist to putting the pieces of a puzzle
together, except we hardly ever get to see the picture on the top of
the box. The individuals that we detain provide us with a bunch of new
puzzle pieces, but most importantly, very often they have seen the
picture on the top of the box. For example, that National Intelligence
Estimate I mentioned earlier about threats to the homeland, in terms of
its judgments and assumptions, is actually informed by the intelligence
we've obtained from our detention program. More than 70 percent of the
human intelligence reporting used in that estimate is based on
information from detainees.
A year and a day ago, the president
publicly acknowledged the existence of CIA's detention and
interrogation program. It began with the capture of Abu Zubaydah in
the spring of 2002. Fewer than 100 people had been detained at CIA's
facilities. And I mentioned renditions, the number of renditions --
that's moving a terrorist from A to B -- apart from that 100 that we've
detained, the number of renditions is actually even a smaller number,
mid-range two figures. These programs are targeted and they are
selective. They were designed only for the most dangerous terrorists
and those believed to have the most valuable information, such as
knowledge of planned attacks, but they've also been the subject of wild
speculation both here and overseas.
A case and point, a European
parliament temporary committee has claimed that -- and I'm quoting now
-- "at least 1,245 flights operated by the CIA flew into European
airspace and stopped over at European airports between the end of 2001
and the end of 2005." And the report said so in a context that implied
that many or even most of these were rendition flights. The actual
number of rendition flights ever flown by CIA is a tiny fraction of
that. And the suggestion that even a substantial number of those 1,245
flights were carrying detainees is frankly absurd on its face.
did some of these flights carry? Could be equipment to support our
people in the field, could be documents that we're sharing with our
allies, could be me. Flights like the ones I take to visit our allies
are actually a good thing. They're signs of our close cooperation.
a method used against the most dangerous terrorists, there's nothing
new about renditions also, by the way, for either America or its
allies. Consider the cases of Carlos the Jackal or Abdullah Ocalan,
both of whose renditions were upheld by European courts. Renditions
before and since 9/11 share some basic features. They have been
conducted lawfully, responsibly and with a clear and single purpose:
Get terrorists off the street and gain intelligence on those still at
Our detention and interrogation programs flow from the
same inescapable logic. And a lot of what you hear about our
interrogation and debriefing techniques is not only false, it actually
tends to obscure a point that we and our officers understand very
well. When face to face with a detained terrorist, the most effective
tool bar none is knowledge. That means things like familiarity with
the subject's background, knowing the right questions to ask,
countering lies with facts.
We had one detainee, for example,
who became quite cooperative in his briefing, when he arrived at a site
and we told him not only who we were, we also told him who he was. And
then we added where he came from and a great deal of his operational
history. If CIA with all of our expertise in counterterrorism had not
stepped forward to hold and interrogate men like Abu Zubaydah and
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, people in America, people in Europe, people
elsewhere would be right to ask why. We shouldered that responsibility
for just one reason: to learn all we can about our nation's most deadly
enemies, so that our operations to undermine them are as effective as
Now, I know serious people in free societies are
still grappling with how best to address the fight against terrorists
in a way that's both effective in protecting our people and consistent
with our liberal democratic principles and traditions. The exchange of
ideas between our societies is actually building a stronger consensus
on the way forward. And it's not hard to see some signs of this
cross-pollination and a growing realization that we are all confronting
a distinctly new type of threat.
Germany's interior ministry,
Wolfgang Schauble, recently cast the situation in these terms, and I'm
quoting him now. "The fact is that the old categories no longer
apply. The fight against international terrorism cannot be mastered by
the classic methods of the police. We have to clarify whether our
constitutional state is sufficient for confronting the new threats."
the dialogue continues on how best to conduct this fight, we and our
partners do stand united on its larger purpose. And this much is
certain: America cannot win this war without allies. Steve Kappes is
my deputy. Steve and I have gone to literally dozens of countries in
our first year as head of the agency. Many of these countries we've
visited more than once.
I cannot overstate how vital these
relationships are to our overall effort. For when I'm talking about
winning this war, I do so in full knowledge. It's a highly complex
struggle, a long-term struggle, and it's fought on two levels: what I
call the close battle and the deep battle. And our foreign partners
are pivotal to success on both those fronts.
Close fight --
that's the one I've been referring to until now -- is pretty
straightforward. It's about people who want to kill us. They can't be
stopped unless we kill or capture them. And on this front, our foreign
partners extend our reach, and they help us across the spectrum of our
operations. The efforts of multiple services are often coordinated
against a terrorist or group that has regional or global affiliations
and doesn't respect the boundaries of nation-states.
collaboration has disrupted attacks that could have been on the same
scales as those of 9/11 -- the U.K. airliner plot, the takedowns of
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mullah Dadullah and many, many others show what
can be accomplished by close teamwork among allies. We've used the
teamwork in every lawful tactic at our disposal, every inch of the
space we've been given to protect all of our citizens from terrorist
brutality. With that strong success in the close fight, we face an
adaptive and resilient enemy who poses a heightened threat, as I
I talked recently with a reporter friend of
mine about my hard-to-find/easy-to-kill model. And with his usual
insight, my friend added -- once again, contrasting it to the Cold War
-- that al Qaeda, in addition to being hard to find, was actually quick
to regenerate. And al Qaeda has compensated for losing its Afghan safe
haven and key operational lieutenants by regrouping in Pakistan's
tribal areas, where they've recruited from a ready pool of adherents.
And therein lies what I described a minute ago, the deep battle:
Blunting the jihadists' appeal to disenchanted young Muslim men and,
increasingly, young Muslim women as well. The deep fight requires
discrediting and eliminating the jihadist ideology that motivates this
hatred and violence. It requires winning what is essentially a war of
And I recognize that some of the actions required by the
close fight can make fighting the deep fight even more complicated.
But it's actually very rare in life that doing nothing is a legitimate
or a morally acceptable course of action. Responsibility demands
action, and dealing with the immediate threat must naturally be a top
Killing, capturing terrorists keeps them at bay and
protects our people, but defeating the world view responsible for
producing those terrorists diminishes the threat itself. Winning the
war of ideas actually defines the long-term victory that we seek.
need to be very clear about this -- this conflict is not about
religion. This war of ideas is not about Islam; it's about fanatics
whose victims have most often been other Muslims. The terrorists must
be exposed for the scourge they are, reviled for the horror and
suffering they inflict; only then can they be uprooted at their very
The deep fight, I should add, is a fight that our whole
society has to wage. This war of ideas is something that CIA can
contribute to, but we are not the decisive factor. And that deep fight
requires that jihadists' ideas of violence and extremism and
intolerance be countered by ideas of peace, moderation and inclusion.
It requires a tireless global campaign by a broad coalition of nations
and societies. But, frankly, it's our friends in the Islamic world,
repulsed by al Qaeda's savage distortion of their faith, who must take
a leading role.
Any discussion of war and particularly the war of
ideas would be incomplete without reference to global media. It is
indeed one of the decisive battlegrounds in the post-9/11 era. It's
where al Qaeda can attempt to spread its grand illusion of a noble
struggle, or it can be where its operatives can be revealed as
murderers who try to justify their atrocities with a violent, bankrupt
The duty of a free press is to report the facts as they
are found. By sticking to that principle, journalists accomplish a
great deal in exposing al Qaeda and its inherents for what they truly
are. And just as they report on terrorists, it's the job of
journalists to report on how the war against terrorism is being
fought. And when their spotlight is cast on intelligence activities,
sound judgment and a thorough understanding of all the equities at play
are critically important.
Revelations of sources and methods or
what seems to me to be an impulse to drag anything CIA does to the
darkest corner of the room can make it very difficult for us to perform
our vital work. When our operations are exposed -- you know, the
legal, authorized operations overseen by Congress? -- when those
operations are exposed, it reduces the space and it damages the tools
we use to protect Americans.
After the press report on how
banking records in the international Swiss network could be monitored,
I read a claim that this leak -- and I'm quoting now -- "bears no
resemblance to security breaches" -- why disclosure of troop locations
that would clearly compromise the immediate safety of specific
individuals -- I could not disagree more strongly. In a war that
largely depends on our success on collecting intelligence on the enemy,
publishing information on our sources and methods can be just as
damaging as revelations of troop or ship movements have been in the
past. Now the compromise to safety can be both immediate and lasting,
and it extends beyond specific individuals. Each revelation of our
methods in tracking terrorists, tracking WMD, tracking other threats
allows our enemies to cover their tracks and change their practices.
We'll respond, but it takes us valuable time to readjust.
some are out there who say there's no evidence that leaks of classified
information have actually harmed national security. As CIA director,
I'm telling you there is and they have. Let me give you just two
examples. In one case, leaks provided ammunition for a government to
prosecute and imprison one of our sources whose family was also
endangered. The revelations had an immediate chilling affect on our
ability to collect against a top priority target. In another, a spade
of media reports cost us several promising counterterrorism and
counterproflieration assets. Sources not even involved in the
operation that was exposed lost confidence that their relationship with
us could be kept secret and so they stopped reporting.
mentioned earlier how our liaison relationships with our foreign
partners are critical to the war effort. Several years before the 9/11
attacks, a press leak of liaison intelligence prompted a country's
service to stop cooperating with us on counterterrorism for two years.
More recently, more than one foreign service has told us that because
of public disclosures they had to withhold intelligence they otherwise
would have shared with us, and that gap of information puts Americans
Look, I know those who are entrusted with America's
secrets and break that trust by divulging those secrets are guilty of a
crime, but those who seek such information and then choose to publish
it are not without responsibilities. I've got a deep respect for
journalists and for their profession. Many of them, especially since
9/11, have actually given their lives in the act of keeping our
citizens and our society informed. They're smart, they're dedicated,
they're courageous men and women. I count many of them in -- and let
me choose my words carefully -- I count many of them as callings. We
each have an important role to play in the defense of the republic, but
my point is, there are times when life and death issues are at stake
when intelligence activities is a subject of press reports.
their own journalists often simply don't have all the facts needed to
make the call on whether the information can be released without harm.
I've heard some justify a release based on their view of the
sensitivity of their story's content with no understanding of the
affect the release have -- may have on the -- the release may have on
the intelligence source at the heart of the story. As I said,
journalists and intelligence officers have important roles to play in
the defense of the republic. A free press is critical to good
government. But when the media claims an oversight role on clandestine
operations, it moves that clandestine operation into an arena where we
cannot clarify, we cannot explain, we cannot defend our actions without
doing even further damage to our national security.
important -- as I say this, it's important to bear in mind that my
agency is subject to another oversight mechanism that has full access
to our operations and takes our security requirements into account,
it's your representatives in Congress.
The CIA has asked for
robust authorities -- remember, the space -- so that we can better
fulfill our responsibility to prevent another attack like 9/11, but we
have not asked for those authorities without congressional oversight.
Close interaction with Congress -- it is an essential part of our --
the agency's social contract with the American people.
give you some statistics -- all of them are for this calendar year, all
right; it's 2007 -- that underscore how we vigorously support the
oversight we have from the elected representatives in Congress.
2007 to date, CIA officers have testified in 57 congressional hearings,
and we're responding to 29 congressionally legislated requests for
information. We have answered 1,140 QFRs -- that's Questions For the
Record -- as well as 254 other letters, questions and requests. CIA
experts have given more than 500 briefings to members of Congress and
their staffs. We have issued some 100 congressional notifications
about our sensitive programs. Everything is on the table. I
personally have briefed the Hill nine times since last September on
renditions, detentions and interrogations.
I mention all this
because, contrary to some of the things you might read in a book, glean
from a movie or read in the newspaper, we actually act at CIA within a
strong framework of law and oversight. We are responsive to both ends
of Pennsylvania Avenue.
We have an Office of General Counsel. We
have an Office of General Counsel that is actually larger than many of
our foreign intelligence partners. And our OGC offices, our General
Counsel Offices, have a defining say in how we conduct our operations.
work hard to earn the public trust, because we need that public trust
to do our job. It's especially important because the counterterrorism
part of our global mission isn't going away any time soon. This war
will define our priorities well into the future.
All of you here
at the council play a special role in informing this public debate,
this public debate on this and every other major issue of foreign
policy and national security, so I want to thank you for giving me the
opportunity to talk about the work we do at the agency and to help
contribute to the broader public understanding of our effort.
came here as a member of two organizations that mean a lot to me, and
one's obvious, see -- the Air Force -- and CIA. And as luck would have
it, this month marks the 60th anniversary of both -- both created by
the same National Security Act. I've been with the Air Force for 38 of
its 60 years; it really hurts me to say that. (Laughs, laughter.)
That's a long time. Another harmful way would be something like 50
percent of the history of manned flight, but I don't want to go there.
(Laughs, laughter.) I'm proud to be an airman, to wear the uniform, to
be part of that great family.
I've been with the agency for about
16 months, but I've actually worked closely with its offices for much
of my career. I have a much deeper familiarity with CIA than a
16-month tenure would suggest. We at CIA are no stranger to criticism,
and that's been true throughout our history. Sometimes it's justified;
often, it's not. Much of what I've seen in the press and read in some
books simply doesn't square with the devotion and skill I see every
day, whether I'm at Langley or I'm in a war zone. The men and women of
CIA are among the most gifted, talented people I've ever had the good
fortune to work with. And at the rate of 130,000 applications a year,
we've had the opportunity to pick some exceptionally intelligent,
America hasn't just been lucky, and it isn't
as if the terrorists have been lazy or just aren't trying. Those
notions fail to explain the lack of an attack inside our homeland for
the last six years. Our nation's bulwark is that group of experts at
CIA, the National Counterterrorism Center, across the entire
intelligence community who help prosecute this war with their deep
knowledge of the enemy and their tight collaboration against a shared
I've been out to visit our people in Iraq, Afghanistan,
other places where the risk and hardship for CIA employees are
greatest. I've seen them work seamlessly with their colleagues in the
armed forces, participating in joint operations that have brought the
fight directly to the enemy.
And I've seen our officers here at
home take quiet satisfaction in seeing the photograph of a terrorist
they've tracked for years show up on CNN after his capture. It might
be a face and a name unrecognizable to most viewers but not to those
who have written countless cables, drafted finished intelligence
reports, briefed dozens of policymakers and congressmen on that one
target. Each of those victories adds up to a safer America; each is
testimony to the tireless dedication and resolve of our men and women
for whom the memory of 9/11 is neither distant nor diminished.
our headquarters building in counterterorrism office that I get to go
to a lot, you walk in, there's a bulk head there, you've got to break
left or right when you come in, and there's a sign; there's a sign
that's been up there for about six years. And at first glance it looks
just like a convenience, but once you've actually read it, it never
blends into the paperwork. The sign simply says, "Today's date is
September 12th, 2001." That's how we approach this war with no
apologies, and we do so knowing we must continue and earn the trust of
the American people for that operational space we need to do what the
nation has asked of us.
Thank you, and I'd be very happy to take your questions. (Applause.)
Just to remind you of the ground rules, please wait for the microphone
and speak directly into it. Please state your name and affiliation,
and above all, please limit yourself to one question and make it as
concise as you can.
QUESTIONER: I'm Lucy Komisar.
I'm a journalist. I wonder whether looking back a little bit in
history you think there are any lessons to learn from the fact that the
CIA, having overthrown Mossadeq in Iraq, set the stage for the problems
that we are facing now -- I'm sorry -- in Iran, but of course it
extends to Iraq.
HAYDEN: The refuge of all intelligence officers, that sounds like a policy question. (Laughter.)
I can tell you, all right, is that the Central Intelligence Agency
within a framework of law carries out the foreign policy of the United
States that is constructed by the people that we elect in both the
executive and legislative branch.
Yeah, sir, please.
FRIEDMAN: Okay, you'll go. Okay, Kenny.
One of the great -- thank you very much for your -- I'm Kenneth
Bialkin, Skadden, Arps. One of the great debates in America today is
whether to say or go in Iraq. You mentioned the war we have with al
Qaeda. Can you please give us the benefit of any assessment that you
may have regarding the impact on al Qaeda, its ability to conduct that
war here or elsewhere should we -- if I may use a pejorative phrase --
abandon the field?
HAYDEN: Sure. Complex question, and I'm
going to give you far too brief an answer, and you've got Dave Petraeus
and Ambassador Crocker coming back next week who will elaborate on the
Life and particularly this kind of slice of life
is always complicated. We had a National Intelligence Estimate in the
past or so that actually said Iraq has become a cause celebre for
jihadist recruitment and then that's a true fact, all right. That
reality exists. On the other hand, we also have a letter from Ayman
al-Zawahiri to then-Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi in Iraq that called Iraq the
central front in the global war for al Qaeda and that their plans would
be to create a caliphate beginning in the Sunni heartland of Iraq and
spreading both west and east, into The Levant as well. So you've got
those realities as well.
If you look at what we need to achieve
in Iraq -- and there are a whole list of things -- I've got to put at
the top of my list it cannot become a safe haven for those who are
threatening the United States.
General, my name is Roland Paul. I'm a lawyer. Some years ago I was
in the government and had the pleasure and privilege of visiting
Langley several times.
You mentioned in your remarks that al
Qaeda has reconstituted itself in the tribal regions of Pakistan. I
know that President Musharraf has made some efforts to eliminate them.
But what do you think is necessary and appropriate to eliminate those
bases of al Qaeda in Pakistan?
HAYDEN: It's a very difficult
challenge and it's hard to imagine a better ally we've had,
tentatively, a better ally that we've had in the war than President
Musharraf in Pakistan and his military intelligence services.
you're talking about an area which historically no central government
has had control over, and an area that has its own culture and its own
traditions that actually make it readily comfortable for al Qaeda to
establish a presence. This has become a more serious question for us
as al Qaeda has begun to reconstitute. And we're working very closely
with our allies in the region and, I should say, on both sides of the
border, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, to do everything we can to deny
them this safe haven.
I mentioned earlier that a friend of
mine pointed out that, you know, "easy to kill, hard to find, quick to
regenerate." And this is a very asymmetrical kind of war. People with
safe haven in the FATA, in the Federally Administered Tribal Area, or
across the border in Afghanistan, only have to number in three figures,
in the hundreds, for them to actually begin to constitute a source of a
serious threat against the homeland. Now compare that to 30 years ago
and count up the number of Soviet troops and Group Soviet Forces
Germany, and you get a sense of the challenge we have here.
think continue to work as closely as possible with all of our allies
and work as aggressively as possible against the enemy.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Mary Boise (sp), Boise-McGuinness (sp) Law Firm. General, thank you for your service.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
Using your terms, what space does the CIA not have that you think it
should have and that you think is important for success in the close
and the deep fight?
HAYDEN: I'm going to give you an answer from
the heart; it's going to be a little oblique, but I think it has a lot
of truth to it as I see it.
Kept using the word operational
space, or the space provided to us by the American people. In one way,
defining that -- and I mention it in the text -- was the laws that we
have, but there's more to it than that. All right.
Central Intelligence Agency and the great Americans who work for CIA,
in CIA, live in a larger political culture, and that political culture
-- particularly I would use the word -- I mean, if you give me three
minutes, I'd think of a better one -- but elite political culture,
right, seems to be at the moment squeezing, at least psychically, that
operational space; that the things that the nation has asked us to do
and the things we are doing on behalf of the nation, its legitimacy is
being questioned by certain segments of the population.
be real harsh, and this is probably a bit unfair, all right. I talked
about going into the CTC, the Counterterrorism Center and saying
today's date is September 12th, 2001. And when I get in the car and
get in Langley and drive down the GW Parkway, it's not long before it
begins to feel like September 10th. And I'm not talking about in terms
of threat. I'm talking about in the willingness of the broader
political culture to be comfortable with the things we believe are both
lawful and necessary for us to fight this war. That's really what I'm
FRIEDMAN: Let's just go way to the back. This gentleman way back in the last row.
Richard Esposito, ABC News. General, in the past, al Qaeda's just
released its tapes. In the current one, they seem to be hyping and
trying to create a buzz. What's going on with al Qaeda? Is there any
real threat? We gather there's a lot of chest thumping in the tape.
Yeah. I'll come back to the NIE and then build from it. You know, we
don't get three or four things they need to have: safe haven,
leadership, to plan strategy, and then operational lieutenants to carry
it out, and so on. The NIE says that exists.
What we don't
know that exists: have they been able to move operatives inside the
homeland. We do see them -- and I have to be by necessity a bit
incomplete here, but we do see them working to train people whom you
and I wouldn't raise an eyebrow about if they were getting off the
plane with us at Kennedy; people whose identity makes it easier --
whose persona makes it easier for them to come into America and to
blend into American society. That's going on, all right? That's a
reality. And that's the picture we have of al Qaeda. And that
willingness to attack the homeland by all that we have, by every source
and method, is no way diminished.
FRIEDMAN: The gentleman there in the center.
General, I'm Harrison Goldin. thank you very much for your cogent and
persuasive presentation, and thank you for your service.
delineating the kind of oversight that the CIA has and welcomes, you
didn't speak about the courts. I wonder if you would care to say a
word about your view as to what the limits are of judicial oversight
over intelligence activity, as you see it.
HAYDEN: Yeah. To be
fair, and primarily, certainly since the mid-1970s and what we put
together then in terms of oversight, after Church, Pike and so on, it
was the Congress who had that primary oversight function of the
activities of intelligence agencies, and the members are cleared, fully
cleared, and we can operate in a box in which classified information
can be freely exchanged.
That said, the courts also affect what it is we can do as an agency. Let me pick two examples.
talked about detentions, interrogations, and how they've always been
lawful. But you know, to turn that page and to dig a bit deeper into
that, "always lawful," but the law on which it's based has actually
developed in the course of the last six years, whether it be the
Detainee Treatment Act, the Military Commissions Act or the Hamdan
decision, which, you know, created new realities to which we have to
respond as an agency. And we have, and that's the way it should be.
my personal experience, the most robust judicial oversight that I've
seen in my life as an intelligence officer has been through the FISA
Court and particularly in my job twice removed as the head of the
National Security Agency. And there the court plays a very powerful
and, I should say, on balance, a very, very productive role in enabling
NSA to do what it needs to do to collect intelligence.
FRIEDMAN: Do you want to comment on e-mails coming through --
Okay. Sir, on the aisle.
I'm Mike Posner from Human Rights First. General Hayden, you spoke at
the beginning of your remarks about the distinction between law and
rules and then space. And I want to focus n the rules relating to
Last year about this time, the president spoke,
and he asked Congress for authority for the agency to be involved in
what he called enhanced interrogation techniques. This is things like
stress positions, use of dogs, hypothermia, mock drowning,
waterboarding. The Congress said no to that, led by Senators McCain,
Graham and Warner. The military's also said no to that, and all of the
senior military lawyers have been very clear that those techniques
violate Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, in public testimony
And yet a month -- six weeks ago, the
administration passed an executive order seemingly allowing again the
CIA to engage in these enhanced techniques.
From my perspective,
it seems to me like this is more than asking for space; what you're
really trying to do is change the rules. The question is, why do you
need these enhanced techniques? Why shouldn't every U.S. agency
operate by a single standard compliant with Common Article 3?
First let me make comment on your listing of techniques and just
frankly add that it's a pretty good example of taking something to the
darkest corner of the room and not reflective of what my agency does.
let's talk about the history, last October. With the Hamdan decision,
the Supreme Court extended the protection of Common Article 3 to the
unlawful combatants of al Qaeda. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm frankly
surprised by that aspect of the decision, in that Common Article 3
refers to conflicts not of an international character. And this one
does certainly seem to be conflict of an international character.
problem was not that we wanted the Congress to approve any techniques.
Our problem was, we didn't know what Common Article 3 meant in the
context of American law. When the Senate ratified a variety of other
portions of the Geneva Convention, the legislative history or specific
statements of the Senate clarified the meaning of the international
treaty in terms of American law. For example, the Convention Against
Torture is carefully hooked in the legislative history to the
prohibition in domestic law against cruel and inhuman punishment
articulated by the 5th, 8th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.
Congress had made no clarifying language with regard to Common Article
3. And any, I think, fair reading of Common Article 3 would point out
that it would be very hard for me to direct an officer of the agency to
do things with the vagaries of the language in Common Article 3. So I
wasn't looking for a carve out; I was looking for a definition.
of the outs that was offered to the agency was that we in the -- it
turns out to be the Military Commissions Act. We in the Military
Commissions Act will criminalize certain kinds of activities. And as
long as your officers don't do these activities, they won't be
prosecuted. And therefore you'll be safe from -- well, you'll be safe
The agency as a whole and myself in particular
rejected that solution. Because what it -- what it would put me in the
position of doing would be to turn to an agency officer and say, I
would like you to do this with regard to this detainee, okay; I have no
idea whether or not it violates the Geneva Convention, because I don't
know what it means, but I'm pretty sure you'll never go to court for
it, so would you go do that for me? And that's about the worst locker
room speech I can imagine giving to an agency employee.
insisted on clarity for Common Article 3. The Congress decided that
they would not offer that clarity but they then would instead reinforce
the already existent presidential right to define the meaning for
treaties for the United States. And so there's actual language in the
Military Commissions Act that has the president doing that, and it
requires him to publish his executive order in the Federal Register,
which is what he did.
It's clear that what it is we do as
agency is different from what is contained in the Army Field Manual. I
don't know of anyone who has looked at the Army Field Manual who could
make the claim that what's contained in there exhausts the universe of
lawful interrogation techniques consistent with the Geneva Convention.
The Army Field Manual was crafted to allow America's Army to train
large numbers of young men and women to debrief and interrogate, for
tactical purposes, transient prisoners on a fast-moving battlefield.
handles a very small number of senior al Qaeda leaders. The average
age of our interrogators is 43. The amount of training for this
specific activity is 240 hours. So the reason we're not covered by the
Army Field Manual is that we're not in the DOD. We weren't consulted
about the Army Field Manual, and no one ever claimed that the Army
Field Manual exhausted all the lawful tools that America could have to
FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Stephen Kass, Carter Ledyard & Milburn.
in view of the extensive training that you just referred to for the
very highly qualified people who provide, I gather you said, 70 percent
of the information that goes into the National Intelligence Estimate,
in view of the critical nature of that information, what is the
operating reason for sending people abroad to be interrogated by other
countries with less qualified people, not under your control, when the
information is so important, unless that reason is to circumvent the
restrictions on U.S. operations?
HAYDEN: Thanks for the
question, because it allows me to clarify the other half of detentions
and renditions. And it's actually curious that it's not the first time
it's happened where I've actually been told to -- why do you conduct
renditions, because detentions are so good? Don't get that all the
time, so -- (laughs/laughter). In many instances -- all right? -- both
justice and intelligence is better served by the movement of the
individual to a country against which the individual has committed a
crime or a country of which that individual is a citizen. All right?
And it's a judgment case.
Now, we do not do it -- we do not do
it to circumvent any restrictions that we have on ourselves. There is
a standard that we have to -- have to apply in each and every case. We
have to receive assurances -- and we have to have confidence in the
assurances -- that this individual will be handled in a way that is
consistent with international law. And we are required to maintain
awareness of how this individual is handled. Now, that's not an
invasive right to go to an ally with a clip board and see how they're
running day-to-day activity with a detainee, but as an intelligence
agency, we have this broad responsibility that the assurances we
receive at the beginning -- that we continue to have confidence that we
should have in those assurances.
The standard we use is that --
and it's pretty straightforward -- it's more or less likely -- before
you jump to conclusions, let me finish the explanation. We have to
believe that it is less rather than more likely that the individual
will be tortured. And I've had very well-informed people say, "Where
did you get that standard?" And the answer is, from the Senate of the
United States. That's in the legislative history for the Senate
working to pass the International Convention Against Torture.
we're not looking to shave this 49/51. All right? We want true
assurances that the individual will be treated well. So we don't do
it, as some have suggested, to circumvent.
FRIEDMAN: We've reached pretty much the allotted time. Let me take just one more, from that patient lady there.
Hi. I'm Carroll Bogert from Human Rights Watch. And just following on
what you just said, I myself personally did research in Russia into the
fate of some detainees who were rendered there on assurances from the
Russian government that they would not be tortured. The State
Department's own Human Rights Reports could not have been more clear
that torture is very prevalent in Russia. And I wonder on what basis
you think a country that conducts torture and is known to conduct
torture can be trusted with -- by giving a bilateral assurance to the
U.S. government that somehow the spots of their leopard have changed.
As I said in the prepared remarks, life rarely gives you the
opportunity to just observe and do nothing. If my agency has custody
of somebody, we've got to do something. And let's walk through the
options: detention, Guantanamo or renditions. And we've got to make a
judgment based on the information we have available.
I should add
that the statute that deals with renditions and the standards that we
apply, clearly -- clearly the overall history of a state has to be
considered. But the statute requires us to make the judgment based
upon our belief specifically about the individual on which the
rendition is being conducted.
FRIEDMAN: I ask you to join me in thanking Mike Hayden for a terrific -- (applause).
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