Magazine article Newsweek International

Michael Hayden: 'We Kept America Safe'

Magazine article Newsweek International

Michael Hayden: 'We Kept America Safe'

Article excerpt

Byline: Jerry Guo

As one of President George W. Bush's top intelligence officials, Gen. Michael Hayden conceived the controversial warrantless-wiretapping program while head of the National Security Agency and then, in 2006, was sent to clean house at the Central Intelligence Agency. Hayden spoke recently to NEWSWEEK's Jerry Guo about his reign as America's top spy and its security challenges today. -Excerpts:

A recent internal report by the International Atomic Energy Agency claims Iran's nuclear capabilities are further along than the U.S. estimates. Is the CIA being careful after Iraq?

You're looking at the same data and drawing different conclusions. When the Israelis talked about this, they took each question and tended to push them in the direction of a more imminent threat. So you end up with a difference in timeline. But there's far more agreement than disagreement.

Is Iran's secret Qum facility part of a hidden nuclear archipelago?

We have good knowledge about their facilities. But I would never make the claim we know everything.

Can we trust our Pakistani partners?

To work with a foreign service requires a degree of trust. Traditionally, Pakistan viewed Al Qaeda in the tribal areas as far more our problem than theirs. With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto [in December 2007] came the growing realization that this was as much their problem as ours.

What's the way forward in AfPak?

The West, not just the U.S., has a moral obligation to the people of Afghanistan. If we were to lighten our footprint to where they aren't protected, they could be subjected to terrible reprisals. The U.S. debate also affects how the Pakistanis deal with this problem. To the degree that they are not confident in our staying power, they develop their own hedging strategies.

Does the CIA have any idea what's going on inside the North Korean regime? …

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