My guest tonight
is a retired four-star general, former director
of the CIA and NSA, and author,
whose latest book is called The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security
in an Age of Lies. Please welcome Michael Hayden. -♪ ♪
-(cheering and applause) Welcome, sir. Take a seat. -Welcome back to the show.
-Thank you. It’s good to have you here.
The last time I saw you, uh, we were debating
the possibilities of Trump having a presidency and what that presidency
could look like if it carried on. I-I recall the conversation. It has now come to pass. -(laughs)
-Um, and your book, your book is speaking directly -to the situation we’re in now.
-Right. The Assault on Intelligence. You make your point
throughout the book about how Trump’s lies
have wrecked havoc on the intelligence community. What does that mean? So-so, let me kind of
structure it as how I approach it
in the book. It’s kind of
a three-layer problem, and it’s really important
to understand the layers. All right? Layer one is us. All right?
It’s our political culture, which has moved into what
the Oxford Dictionary calls -“a post-truth world,”
-Right. in which we make decisions
based upon emotion, preference, allegiance,
tribe, grievance– -not on facts.
-Right. Not on data. Donald Trump– we were here two years ago
talking about this– Donald Trump recognized that. He saw it. He exploited it
during the campaign, and I think he has worsened it with some of his behavior
and language while he is president. -Right. -He’s riding
that post-truth wave. And then, finally,
to make this really complicated, we’ve got a foreign adversary kind of coming through
the perimeter wire on us, recognizing what’s going on here
and exploiting it. -Right.
-And it’s all based, Trevor, on the concept
of truth or post-truth. How is it that it benefits Trump
and nobody else? I mean, shouldn’t something like
living in a post-truth world also damage Donald Trump
as the person in power? Well, um, it will over time, because history has shown… And I-I actually, I hope
people enjoy reading the book, but I really enjoyed
writing and researching it. I got out of my circle
and talked to a lot of folks -Right. -who I would not
normally have talked to: philosophers,
historians, and so on. And what they point out, that the approach
the president is taking– this kind of post-truthism,
which we’ve seen elsewhere– it doesn’t deliver. I mean, you’ve got to
base decisions on reality, -Right.
-based on facts. So over time, I think
we’ll recognize we’re d… we’re speeding
down a cul-de-sac here. -Right.
-But it’s gonna take time. Now, why do you say
that it wrecks havoc -on the intelligence community
specifically? -Yeah. ‘Cause I understand democracy, -I understand
the American people -Right. being affected by this, but why does the intelligence
community get affected? Surely they, uh,
they’re immune to this. Not really. And let-let me try
to describe it this way. The high friction points
of the administration -with the broader society have
been with intelligence, -Uh-huh. law enforcement, the courts, -journalism, science,
-Right. scholarship. What do they all have in common? They’re all fact-based. -They’re all evidence-based
enterprises. -Right. And that’s where we see
the-the friction with-with a style of governance that-that is post-fact, -not based on-on hard reality.
-Right. So we’re…
It’s really interesting. I kind of counted ’em off
on my fingers. Uh, last time we were here,
all right, -the intel digit was over here.
-Right, right, right. Because these folks over here
had serious questions about how we acquired data. -Right. -You and I have had
that conversation. Uh, that’s not the argument
today. These folks over here
welcome the intel guys into the circle now, because– we’ll get back to arguing
about how we acquired it later– -but right now
they recognize us, -Right. -like them, as data people.
-Uh-huh. And it’s-it’s
the fact-based enterprises that feel under siege. Do you understand though
why some people would argue that Donald Trump
is well within his rights to, uh, attack the-the
intelligence communities? Because, in some ways,
the intelligence communities have been responsible
for misinformation themselves. I mean,
one of the classic examples was the flawed
intelligence report -that led America
to the war in-in Iraq. -Right. So if somebody says, “Yeah,
but Donald Trump is saying these fake things,”
some might argue, “Yeah, but the CIA and the NSA
and all these organizations also did that, and that’s why
America’s in Iraq now.” Great question. You and I
kind of worked our way through that issue.
And I-I mentioned the last time I was here, I was in the room. I voted for it.
I believed it to be true. We were wrong,
but-but the difference is we were trying to pursue -an accurate picture
of objective reality. -Right. We-we got it wrong, all right? I mean, life’s hard,
and-and sometimes, even with your best effort, fact-based institutions fail
to get the true picture. -Right. -That’s not what
we’re arguing about today. What we’re arguing about
is decision-making that is indifferent
to objective reality, that is based
on these other things– preference, grievance,
tribal loyalty. It’s interesting that you say
preference and tribal loyalty, specifically,
because, um, this week, -Israel’s prime minister,
Benjamin Netanyahu, -Yeah. um, delivered a presentation
where he spoke about, uh, the proof that Iran had lied about
their nuclear weapons program. Now, there seems to be
conflicting schools of thought on this.
Some say Iran hasn’t lied. This was old information that Netanyahu tried
to present as new. Others are saying, “No,
there-there was something new.” Is there something new
in discovering -that Iran kept
the-the information, -Yeah. the archives
on how to make nuclear weapons? So, so I think–
beyond think, I know– this was baked in already
to our nuclear negotiations. Uh, I walked into President Bush
and Vice President Cheney, late ’07, and said,
“I know you’re not gonna welcome “this message,
but the Iranians appear, “about four years ago, to have
stopped building the bomb. “They’re doing the other stuff,
the missiles, the centrifuges. “But the building of the bomb,
we think they stopped. “And-and, Mr. President,
this is in absence of evidence. -“We’ve got evidence of absence.
-Right. We know, we know that they’ve…
that they’ve stopped.” Now, number one,
Iran never admitted -that they were building a bomb
up until 2003. -Uh-huh. They denied it. They lied. We knew that. What you’ve got
from the prime minister is a lot of the fine print with regard to where
the Iranians were. But the fact that
they were building a bomb and that they lied about it,
already accepted, already known, and, as I said, already baked in
to our approach. So, it’s interesting that
he came out and presented all of this information
the way he did. You know, it was
a big power point presentation. Iran lied. And he had all these CDs,
and it was very, very dramatic. I mean, he revealed everything,
very theatrical as well. It almost felt like
he wasn’t playing to the intelligence community
and other leaders– it seemed like
it was an audience of one that he was playing to–
someone who likes big pictures -and easy words to understand.
-(laughter) Could it be that Netanyahu
will now be the reason Donald Trump decides
to definitively pull out -of the Iran deal?
-And, you know, he has to make that
decision again in 12 days. -Right. -This is not
happening by accident. So I do think there may have
been some theatrics there, giving the president
some additional motivation, -Right.
-additional top cover, perhaps, if the president really does
want to rip up the deal. But a lot of folks like me, including the people in
my old jobs in this government, -Mm-hmm.
-have pointed out that, no, no, we knew this, this is old data. So here’s a case
where the fact-based guys– intelligence community,
in this case, journalism– they’re holding their ground,
and they’re saying: we’d like to have the fine
print, that’s really useful, but in terms of the broad plot,
nah, we knew this. Let’s talk about
one additional thing that you lay out in the book,
as you said, the structuring the book
into thirds. -The third of Russia.
-Yeah. Russia and the bots and Facebook
has become a story that has been all over the news. Many have labeled this
as one of the biggest threats to America’s democracy,
because they’re pushing forward the post-truth world. Some might say Russia
is only doing to America what America
has been doing to them. How do you respond to this
as somebody who knows, better than anybody,
what America did to influence, -or not, Russia’s elections?
-Other than as an element of American policy, to support what you and I
would call democracy, there are no comparisons
between what we do and what the Russians
have done to our election. Remember
my three-layer cake here, -Right.
-and the biggest problem is us? Um, that enables the Russians
to mess with our heads. I mean, they’ve actually made
a run at the Norwegians, too. It didn’t work– because Norway
isn’t a fractured society. And so what
the Russians are doing is using high technology, an approach
to information dominance, which I have
to tell you, Trevor, in terms of its elegance
as military doctrine, is really quite good. And if you read
the Russian manuals about this, it’s quite revealing
as some really serious thought. They call it “contactless war,” where we can use
informational means to effect the target population
of our adversary. But they’re only able to do that
because of our own weaknesses. Look, cards face up.
I mean, I’ll be the last one to say that our government
hasn’t ever conducted a covert influence campaign. -Right. -All right? But there’s
a iron law of physics with regard to covert influence,
all right? You never create fractures. The only way you can make
covert influence work is to identify
preexisting fractures and then worsen them
and exploit them. That’s what
the Russians are doing. Wow. It’s a fascinating book.
You get into it in depth, and it is terrifying and also
enlightening at the same time. -Thank you so much for being
on the show. -Thank you. Great having you back. The Assault on Intelligence
is available now. Michael Hayden, everybody.