CNN has reported that ex-NSA Director Michael Hayden has compared Edward Snowden—who leaked documents illustrating the extent of spying by U.S. security agencies—to a terrorist. Hayden said that Snowden “has created a ‘catastrophic’ situation for American intelligence agencies”, attacking Snowden as a “narcissistic young man”.
Urging the government to go after Snowden, Hayden claimed that “abandoning the effort to bring Snowden to justice would be like ‘negotiating with terrorists’”.
Well Hayden’s one to talk. Snowden called attention to the secretive and in many cases illegal activities of unaccountable intelligence agencies. Those intelligence agencies are part of a wider national security apparatus which has a track record to dwarf that of any “terrorist”. In collusion with the Bush administration, the intelligence agencies manipulated information which led to a war of aggression against Iraq. That war was based on lies and killed thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
But there was a global shadow war which accompanied the much more spectacular one in Iraq. In this war, U.S. intelligence and military agencies kidnapped, rendered, disappeared, tortured, and murdered people. They did so in violation of international law, and in some cases in violation of U.S. law. Where convenient, they turned over suspects to thuggish regimes so that the security services of dictators could do their dirty work for them. They created secret prisons where they brought to bear methods worthy of the world’s ugliest regimes. They dispensed with the idea of justice, wherein the accused as a right to any sort of due process.
Hayden personally presided over the warrantless wiretapping by the NSA, so obvious an abuse of power that even the shameless Bush administration dropped it once its existence became publicly known. Hayden was also an advocate of torture, and one of the key figures behind the expansion of the drone war. And according to David Sanger, Hayden “asked for permission to carry out strikes against houses or cares merely on the basis of behaviour that matched a ‘pattern of life’ associated with Al-Qaeda or other groups”. Translated, he asked for the power to murder people without a scrap of evidence linking them as individuals to any actual crime.
Hayden has defended the use of torture by claiming that it led us to Osama bin Laden. This is a highly contested claim, but one which demonstrates the tortured logic of the people manning our security services. They would argue that the death of one man has been worth the 4,489 American deaths in Iraq and 2,292 American deaths in Afghanistan, along with the trillions of dollars these wars will cost, and the enemies they have made the U.S. because of our despicable, terroristic conduct in waging our War of Terror. The fact that we were attacked by a small group of people in Afghanistan, but are now fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, and have taken part in wars in Libya and Mali, tells us all we need to know about the “success” of the mentality Hayden represents.
Edward Snowden disclosed useful information to the public about what is being done to us, and about what is being done in our name. We have a right to that information.
Michael Hayden on the other hand, is one member of an administration packed with people who engineered an illegal war and presided over a campaign of global terror which destroyed the lives of thousands and put our country in grave danger, simultaneously eroding civil liberties and creating new security threats. They are people who should be brought to justice for the atrocities they enabled and ordered. They gained their power by responding to the depraved actions of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but they have created far more terror, and done much more lasting damage to the U.S. than bin Laden could ever have dreamed of.
Michael Hayden is the last person who should suggest that a whistleblower is anything like a terrorist.