CIA Director Michael Hayden on Media Oversight of the CIA
General Michael Hayden, USAF is the Director of the CIA. On September 7, 2007, Hayden gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations.
The CFR news briefing (which includes a link to an audio of Hayden's speech) notes:
Hayden described two parallel tracks in the “war on terror”: a “close fight” and a “deep fight.” The former, he said, consists of efforts to destroy an enemy that is “easy to kill, but hard to find and quick to regenerate.” The deep fight “requires winning the war of ideas” by reducing the appeal of jihad ideology to disenchanted young Muslims. Hayden was careful to add, “The war of ideas is not about Islam. It’s about fanatics whose victims most often have been Muslims.”
“This is a form of warfare unlike any other in our country’s history,” he said. “It’s an intelligence war as much as a military one.”
In such a war, Hayden argued, the media and society in general needs to factor the need for secrecy into its view of events.
“A free press is critical to good government,” Hayden said, but he argued that the media should not act as a watchdog over the government’s clandestine services. That role, he said, belongs to Congress. “It’s important to bear in mind that my agency is subject to another oversight mechanism that has full access to our operations and takes our security requirements into account: It’s the people’s representatives in Congress.”
Hayden spoke at length about the often tenuous relationship between his agency and the media. “The duty of a free press is to report the facts as they are found. By sticking to that principle, journalists accomplish a great deal in exposing al-Qaeda and its adherents for what they are.” Hayden decried what he considers poor judgment by journalists seeking to expose CIA practices. “In a war that largely depends on our success in collecting intelligence on the enemy, publishing information on our sources and methods can be just as damaging as revelations of troop or ship movements were in the past.” Furthermore, he complained, such exposure has scared away vital sources and even created rifts between the CIA and other nations’ intelligence services. [full text and link to audio]
According to Arnaud de Borchgrave (Washington Times 9-28-07), Hayden told the CFR:
"Our analysts assess with high confidence that al Qaeda's central leadership is planning high-impact plots against the U.S. homeland... we who study the enemy see a danger more real than anything our citizens at home have confronted since our Civil War." [full text]