Michael Hayden’s blatant double standards

The former head of the CIA is making the rounds plugging his book. He was interviewed by Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera news and it was a refreshingly hard-hitting interview where Hasan pressed him on the issue of whether waterboarding was torture. The whole 15-minute interview is good but the key point to listen to is the part beginning at around 5:00 minute mark where Hayden tries to defend the abominable practice of ‘rectal feeding’ of the prisoners at Guantanamo. Then at about the 6:00 mark, Hayden suggests that waterboarding when done by the US is not torture but if done by (say) Syria it would be.

What we see is a classic example of the legalistic reasoning adopted by apologists for US torture, war crimes, and other abominable practices. Hayden is by no means alone in talking like this. It is standard practice within the US political and media establishment to start with the premise that whatever the US does is right and use that as the narrowly defined standard for acceptability. They then argue that if anyone else deviates even slightly from what the US did, then that makes it wrong.

These people are so shameless and the fact that US interviewers never ask these kinds of questions is a sad reflection on them too.


  1. says

    He doesn’t have double standards. He has the new DARPA experimental quadruple standards.

    He also had his ability to tell the truth altered so that the nerves that might cause pangs have been disabled. He can lie without any apparent effort. I remember in one ‘debate’ he did with Bruce Schneier, he derided the concerns of privacy advocates by saying “if I tap your home phone line, I’m in a great deal of trouble…” very carefully saying ‘home phone line’ and not ‘cell phone’ or any of the other stuff they tap or where they tap it.

    The correct reaction to this horrible fucking travesty of a human being is to spit in his face.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 1: The correct reaction to this horrible fucking travesty of a human being is to spit in his face.

    I dunno -- the Iraqi tradition of shoe-throwing has much to recommend it.

  3. lanir says

    Around the 7:20 mark where he begins to explain that it was okay because we were scared… that’s the big take-away I think. It’s really the only justification for any of it. The not-so-targeted murders, the let’s-try-not-to-call-it-torture… It’s really not any different than the justifications used against LGBT people or other minorities now. And sure the scale provides different potential for inertia or corrective action but the morality is the same. It’s all about being too ashamed of your own fear to admit to it. Blaming it on other people in an attempt to make it their problem.

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