Michael Hayden: Political Correctness Has Harmed Counter-Terror Effort

• June 15, 2016 7:07 pm


Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, who served as director of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency, was asked about the role of political correctness in America's national security while appearing with CNN host Jake Tapper on Wednesday.

"Look, I agree with everything you're saying. It's an impossible job. I would not want to be given that task. But, let me also ask, is it possible that people are being politically correct? You look at the Fort Hood case when the Army knew that Nidal Hasan had become extremist and they whitewashed his reports to make it sound as though it was a good thing he had all this knowledge," Tapper said. "The FBI knew he had been talking to and emailing with Anwar al-Awlaki. Is there a hesitance to be branded a bigot?"

"Well, knowing what I know in the public record about the Major Hasan case, I tend to agree with you. I think the Army backed away from this because of, for want of a better term—I'll use yours—, political correctness," Hayden said. "They didn't want to bite off the issue that they might have gotten into had they gone after Hasan given his religious leanings. Look, we're all sensitive about religious liberty here. But in that case, Jake, I'm with you. I think we clearly did not do some things that we should have done."

"And obviously we don't want to paint with a broad brush the millions of peaceful American Muslims or the 1.5 billion throughout the world. But, obviously if there are extremist leanings indicated, that's a whole different thing," Tapper said. "Here's another question: does law enforcement have the tools it needs? Do the taxpayers give enough money? Are there enough men and women on the ground?"

"So right now, the bureau is under-resourced to handle that number of cases you and I just discussed, thousands to tens of thousands and then what do you do after you've let someone go, saying, no, he is not a danger at this time. If you had more resources, you might be able to check in every now and again," Hayden said. "So, number one, the bureau probably needs more resources if we want them to do this and that's a separate question. Beyond that, the bureau probably needs more tools, if we want them to do this."

"They need more authorities to use the whole rack of things they're allowed to do in a criminal case, in a case that I described before to you, Jake, is not a criminal case. It's an American about whom they have suspicions," Hayden said. "So how far do you want the bureau to go in terms of invading that individual's privacy? Do you want them to go into the Facebook account? Do you want them to go into the emails and so on? I mean these are very serious questions."

"Let me give you a real world example," Hayden said. "Recall Christmas Day 2009? Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab?"

"Sure, the failed underwear bomber," Tapper said.

"The plane over Detroit. Jake, up to Christmas Eve, there was a national outcry that the National Counterterroism Center had far too many people on the no-fly list," Hayden said. "By Christmas night, the national complaint was that there weren't enough people on the no-fly list and so when this dies down, you're going to have somebody else in here in this chair complaining about what the Federal Bureau of Investigation is doing."

Published under: CNN, Detroit, FBI, Jake Tapper, NSA