Gen. Hayden on Intelligence Oversight (2005)

06.19.06 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Gen. Michael Hayden, who is now the new CIA director, presented himself as a committed proponent of intelligence oversight in an April 2005 hearing on his nomination to become Deputy Director of National Intelligence.

But the record of that hearing, which has just been published, takes on a different aspect in light of the NSA warrantless surveillance program which was disclosed by the New York Times in December 2005 and kept secret from most members of the congressional intelligence committees.

“In a variety of sessions I have tried to be completely open and have treated the Committee as a stakeholder in our operational successes,” Gen. Hayden told the Senate Intelligence Committee in spring 2005 (at p. 49 of the PDF version).

He explained his understanding of the indispensable role of oversight.

“To be successful, the American intelligence community has to be very powerful and largely secret. And yet we live in a political culture that distrusts two things most of all: power and secrecy.”

“The path through what would otherwise be an unsolvable dilemma is the Congressional oversight structure where the people’s elected representatives have full access to our activities — thus ensuring necessary secrecy while creating the public confidence that ultimately allows us to create and exercise the powers that we need,” Gen. Hayden said then.

It follows logically that a failure to provide elected representatives with “full access to our activities” would engender a loss of public confidence.

See “Nomination of Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden to be Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence,” hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, April 14, 2005.