Former NSA director Michael Hayden may be a sociopath. Actually, his behavior (and the NSA in general) is slightly more aligned with Antisocial Personality Disorder, defined as such:
Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal.
So far, compliant courts, lax and compliant oversight and secret interpretations of the law have made sure Hayden’s actions never strayed into “criminal” territory during his tenure at the NSA. Now that he’s no longer in charge (but still relevant!), his mouth is running overtime.
In a panel discussion about cybersecurity hosted by the Washington Post, Hayden attempted to make a lighthearted joke about killing someone.
Hayden noted that Snowden has been nominated for a European human rights award.
“I must admit, in my darker moment over the past several months, I’d also thought of nominating Mr. Snowden, but it was for a different list”
This list would be the one where the government decides you need to die. Just a little dark humor, certainly not completely inappropriate, given Hayden’s limited powers as the former head of the NSA. Of course, the head of the House Intelligence Committee couldn’t help but chime in and make it totally inappropriate.
The audience laughed, and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was also on the panel, responded, “I can help you with that.”
Hilarity ensued, as they say. Yes, Mike Rogers, the man who has transformed himself into Chief Flack and Shill for the NSA during his tenure as the head of House Intelligence Committee, had to try and top it, and now comes out looking even more venal and misanthropic than usual.
Hayden followed up this “punchline” to offer even more approval of government-ordained killing.
Michael Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency, defended the government’s use of targeted killings on Thursday.
“Yes, we do targeted killings, and I certainly hope they make full use of the capacities of the National Security Agency when we do that…”
Hayden made the comment in response to a question from the audience about an investigation by journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill into the NSA’s alleged role in assassinations.
Fantastic. Hayden pointed out that the US government doesn’t do assassinations (let’s see what Greenwald’s investigation turns up, shall we?), but is perfectly entitled to do “targeted killings” because the nation is “at war.” Interesting justification, seeing as the nation has been “at war” with both drugs and terrorism for years now, which means that targeted killings have been and will continue to be “fully justified” for as long as those “battles” rage. These “wars” have already been used to excuse all sorts of behavior US citizens object to, like mass domestic surveillance and inland “border” checkpoints.
As for “targeted,” the bodies of dozens of civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan would beg to differ. Except they can’t.
So, while the leaks keep leaking on and documents keep being pried from the grasp of government agencies by non-governmental agencies actually interested in protecting Americans’ rights, the justifications are wearing thinner and thinner.
And if Hayden’s statements are indicative of the mindset of those in the upper echelon of US intelligence, it’s more than simply chilling. It’s horrifying.