General Michael Hayden’s name is being floated tonight by senior officials as a potential replacement for fired CIA chief Porter Goss. Hayden is principal deputy director of US intelligence and was the director of the NSA for five years. He carried out the President’s unconstitutional spying on hundreds (or possibly thousands) of Americans … an illegal operation conducted to “protect American freedom”. Recently speaking about the scandal, former White House counsel John Dean sagely observed that “a nation that has lost control of its Commander-in-Chief has become something other than a democracy.”
A rational mind might think Hayden unconfirmable by any vertebrate Senate based merely on this exchange with Knight-Ridder’s Jonathan Landay at the National Press Club in January:
Landay: “…the Fourth Amendment of the [United States] Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American’s right against unlawful searches and seizures…”
Gen. Hayden: “No, actually – the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.”
Landay: “But the –“
Gen. Hayden: “That’s what it says.”
Landay: “The legal measure is probable cause, it says.”
Gen. Hayden: “The Amendment says: unreasonable search and seizure.”
Landay: “But does it not say ‘probable cause’?”
Gen. Hayden [exasperated, scowling]: “No! The Amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.”
Landay: “The legal standard is probable cause, General — “
Gen. Hayden [indignant]: “Just to be very clear … mmkay… and believe me, if there’s any Amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it’s the Fourth. Alright? And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. The constitutional standard is ‘reasonable’.”
The General of Sanctimony would do well to brush up on the Fourth amendment prior to those confirmation hearings.
Perhaps the rumor isn’t true, and Hayden’s people are floating it to advance their own fortunes. While Hayden is doing plenty of damage where he currently sits, his ascension to CIA director would further jeopardize our crumbling Constitution. Such a nomination by the Bush White House would not move our nation in the right direction. It would move us further toward darkness; delivering another cold breeze at a time when the once-brilliant flame of American critical thought is flickering under the strengthening winds of our irrational fears.
Each day our society looks more like a bizarre prequel to Brave New World. Standing up for freedom with any intellectual honesty means defending the sanctity of inherent individual rights against encroachment by the State – even in the face of made-for-TV bogeymen. And since 9-11-01, there seem to be precious few people doing that.