Michael Hayden: Torture’s PR Man

Former director of both the NSA and CIA Michael Hayden has been out of public “service” for over two years now. Sadly, though, his mouth hasn’t, and for quite the worse.

Hayden ran the NSA, and after 9/11 followed many Americans into the fever swamps of terror illogic, abandoning his once-held belief that the state should in some way be restricted from spying on its own citizens. The NSA under his direction started a domestic phone call database, helped Bush gut FISA, and helped establish the drone program that now stealthily murders its way across Afghanistan and countries we’re nominally not even at war with, like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. As director of the CIA from 2006 — imagine, he was already so bad on domestic spying at his point that the likes of Dianne Feinstein opposed him — he loved him some controlled near-drowning of alleged terrorists.

Hayden already has a trail of twisted wreckage and rotten bodies in his wake. Now he’s trying to turn America into a torture state as well.

In a recent op-ed in — where else? — The Wall Street Journal, Hayden uses loaded language to dismiss those skeptical of the government and its apologists’ claims that torture was the reason the US was able to find and kill Osama bin Laden. In “Birthers, Truthers and Interrogation Deniers” — yep, “deniers,” just like the Holocaust ones! — Hayden attempts to make the case that those of us who know there is more to fact-finding through interrogation than body-slamming and cold cells are self-deluding and dishonest. After all, he says, we’d have to dump the 9/11 Commission Report if we didn’t think good information came from “enhanced interrogation techniques”!

But that doesn’t follow. Nobody ever said, as Hayden claims, that zero true information is blurted out by a detainee in agony or terror. What torture opponents including actual interrogators have said is that most information is false and that it is much more productive to use other, less barbaric techniques to prise good info from a prisoner.

The director of two spy agencies shouldn’t be expected to do anything but create strawmen to blow down. His job has always been to confuse issues and defuse honest debate. Hayden’s goal here is to nudge the American culture into full acceptance of any brutality our overseers would like to employ to make their jobs easier. Since it really has been established that torture makes the job of intelligence harder, we must realize that’s not the actual job in question. The real goal is to have the population cowering and compliant.

Lest we get the bamboo shoots.

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