Former NSA and CIA Boss Michael Hayden Calls Himself an ‘Unrelenting Libertarian’

by | Feb 27, 2015

Michael Hayden, who served in turn as director of the National Security Agency (NSA), principal deputy director of National Intelligence, and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1999 through 2009, elicited laughs and a loud jeer of “No you’re not!” in response to his assertion Friday morning during a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) debate that he is an “unrelenting libertarian.”

It is hard to imagine a more preposterous assertion from Hayden who defends the United States government’s extensive torture program, many of the revolting details of which were recently revealed in a partially released Senate Intelligence Committee report, and oversaw the NSA mass spying program. Libertarians, of course, oppose such violations of individual rights.

If Hayden had changed his mind and become an opponent of the massive rights violations that intelligence agencies committed under his oversight, his “unrelenting libertarian” claim might not be so ridiculous. However, Hayden is instead a steadfast defender of the violations. After NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed information about the US government’s mass spying program, “unrelenting libertarian” Hayden “joked” about putting Snowden on President Barack Obama’s targeted killings list. And, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who then chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, started making some critical comments about the torture program, the “unrelenting libertarian” dismissed Feinstein’s concerns as the senator just being “emotional.”

Hayden continues to defend US government encroachments of individual rights. In fact, that was the purpose of his participation in the CPAC debate in which he presented his astounding self-characterization. Hayden was debating Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News senior judicial analyst and a Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board member, regarding the US government’s mass spying program. Hayden, as expected, presented a blanket defense of the program. At the beginning of the debate, Hayden drew applause and cheers from the audience for calling Napolitano “an unrelenting libertarian.” Hayden then followed up with the comment “so am I,” resulting in a very different audience reaction.

Watch here Hayden make his preposterous claim during the debate:

Watch the complete debate here.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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