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News Briefing: Hayden, at CFR, Says Media Should Leave CIA Oversight to Congress

Council on Foreign Relations

Author: Eben Kaplan

September 7, 2007
New York, NY

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), said in a September 7 speech at CFR that among the myriad security threats faced by his agency, “none commands more attention than terrorism.”

Hayden, an Air Force general who ran the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005, has led the CIA for sixteen months. During that time he has overseen the release of several national intelligence estimates offering cautionary accounts of the “war on terror,” including one describing the Iraq war as “the ?cause celebre’ for jihadists.”

Speaking at CFR’s New York headquarters, 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.”

Read the rest of this article on the cfr.org website.

Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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