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-and-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 sites …
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 point.
LAMB: Is there anybody that’s ever had as much intelligence experience in the United States government as you’ve had?
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 and ’97.
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 six years.
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 nation.
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 achieved.
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 destruction?
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 …
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 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, BOTH 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 you learn?
HAYDEN: I learned how tough a job that Ambassador Negroponte, and now Admiral Mike McConnell, have.
It broadened my perspectives, the way Ambassador Negroponte 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 listened to?
HAYDEN: No. No. I really mean that.
LAMB: How do we know?
HAYDEN: Isn’t that the most difficult thing?
In the 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 think?
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 information.
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 Mazzetti …
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 individuals involved.
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 to engage?
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 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 basketball.
LAMB: What did your parents do?
HAYDEN: My dad was a loader 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, and why?
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 in 1969.
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 is.
LAMB: Impact of working on the National Security Council in defense matters for George Herbert Walker Bush, number 41.
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 Gates?
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 six years.
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 joining us.
HAYDEN: Thank you, Brian.