Sunday, February 28, 2016

Why Michael Hayden Lacks Credibility on the CIA, Trump, and Torture

Color me skeptical:
During his appearance on “Real Time,” Hayden cited Trump’s pledge to kill family members as being among his most troubling campaign statements. 
“That never even occurred to you, right?” Maher asked. 
“God, no!” Hayden replied. “Let me give you a punchline: If he were to order that once in government, the American armed forces would refuse to act.” 
“That’s quite a statement, sir,” Maher said. 
“You are required not to follow an unlawful order,” Hayden added. “That would be in violation of all the international laws of armed conflict.”
Michael Hayden's actual track record:
…SIEGEL: Toward the end of your tenure at the Center Intelligence Agency, the question of interrogations became extremely controversial. You advised your successor – President Obama’s nominee, Leon Panetta – what to say about waterboarding. I want you to tell us what your guidance was. 
HAYDEN: Yeah. I simply said do not use the word torture and CIA in the same sentence ever again. You can object to some of the enhanced interrogation techniques. You can, in your heart of hearts, believe they meet some legal definition of torture. But Leon, you’re taking over a workforce that did these things in good faith, that did these things with the assurance of the attorney general that they indeed were not torture. Do not accuse them of felonies. 
SIEGEL: As a matter of institutional politics or as a matter of truth? 
HAYDEN: Well, certainly as a matter of truth. Look, I get it. Honest men differ. A lot of good people describe these things as torture. The definitive legal judgment under which the agency was operating – and, you know, sooner or later, Robert, somebody’s got to call balls and strikes, and that’s the way it is.
Gee. I wonder if the CIA could get a lawyer to say it's OK to do bad things to terrorist families, — to call those "balls and strikes" — despite what the Geneva Conventions say?

I wonder....
In the December debate with Cassel, Yoo was asked: "If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?" 
Yoo: "No treaty." 
Cassel: "Also no law by Congress? That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo [that went to the president]." 
Yoo: "I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that."
Draw your own conclusions.

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