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Fmr. CIA chief Hayden tweets ‘I agree’ to GOP is world’s most ‘dangerous, extreme’ group claim

Michael Hayden speaking at CPAC 2015 in Washington, DC. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
August 18, 2022

Retired CIA director Mike Hayden tweeted his agreement with a British journalist’s claim on Wednesday that the Republican Party is the most “nihilistic, dangerous and contemptible” political force he had seen in the world.

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On Wednesday, Financial Times columnist Edward Luce tweeted, “I’ve covered extremism and violent ideologies around the world over my career. Have never come across a political force more nihilistic, dangerous & contemptible than today’s Republicans. Nothing close.”

Hayden shared Luce’s tweet, adding, “I agree. And I was the CIA Director.”

Hayden’s comment follows a swipe he took at former President Donald Trump last week following the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Hayden shared a photo of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed after being convicted of passing U.S. nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. Hayden shared the photo of the Rosenbergs after anonymous reports that Trump had classified nuclear documents at Mar-a-Lago.

After presidential historian and Trump critic Michael Beschloss first shared the photo of the Rosenbergs with the caption “Rosenbergs were convicted for giving U.S. nuclear secrets to Moscow, and were executed June 1953,” Hayden tweeted, “Sounds about right,” implying support for a similar fate for Trump.

Trump has denied the claims he kept nuclear records at his home. The Department of Justice is investigating Trump for potential violations of the Espionage Act, but he has not been charged at this time.

Hayden had attained the rank of general in the U.S. Air Force and served as the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and then as the CIA director until 2009.

Under Hayden’s NSA director tenure, the agency started a program to collect and surveil domestic electronic communications without warrants. After USA Today first reported on the program, Hayden insisted the warrantless searches of electronic communications were legal.

As CIA director, Hayden was questioned over the number of detainees the CIA had in its interrogation program and secret “black sites” as well as the agency’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding and “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding” without documented medical necessity.

According to a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report, a CIA employee alleged Hayden instructed him to conceal the true number of detainees the CIA was holding, telling him to “keep the detainee number at 98” and “pick whatever date I needed to make that happen.”

Since retiring from the intelligence services, Hayden has increasingly offered his political commentary on Twitter.

In 2015, Hayden attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an event that’s largely supportive of the Republican Party and its conservative politics.

Hayden became a critic of Trump and the Republican Party under Trump’s leadership.

Hayden was among a group of 50 former U.S. intelligence and national security officials who signed an October 2020 letter saying the information reportedly found on a laptop belonging to President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” Five former CIA directors signed the letter, casting doubt on the laptop materials. Information found on the laptop has since been authenticated by the New York Times and Washington Post.

In August 2021, as the U.S. military oversaw efforts to evacuate U.S. and western citizens and Afghan refugees from Afghanistan, Hayden compared Trump supporters to the Taliban fighters those evacuees were fleeing. Hayden further endorsed sending Trump supporters back to Afghanistan on return flights.