Hayden: “If everyone on the planet used CIA behavior as the model, the overall treatment of detainees on earth would actually improve”
DECEMBER 9, 2014 — In an exclusive interview with NBC’s Brian Williams today, former CIA Director Michael Hayden discussed the CIA interrogation tactics highlighted in the Senate’s torture report, telling Williams: “This isn’t a response here about defending torture. I’m here talking to you about defending history.”
A transcript from tonight’s “NBC Nightly News” is below and video is online here: http://nbcnews.to/1uhISS8.
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MANDATORY CREDIT: NBC News
BRIAN WILLIAMS INTRO: A short time ago we spoke with Retired General Michael Hayden, accused in today’s report of providing misleading information in the past. He ran the NSA and was CIA director starting during the Bush era from ’06 to ’09. We talked to him about this torture report — he disagrees with the definition, for starters, and says what was carried out was not torture. We then talked about overall and global impact.
[ BEGIN TAPE ]
How are we better than our enemies, morally, in light of what we all read about today?
Well, let me give you a startling statement, Brian. And, look, everyone knows these things were very tough. I got involved in this very late in the program. I endorsed their use going forward in a very minimized form.
So, these decisions aren’t taken lightly by anyone, believe me. But let me give you an odd calculus here, Brian. As bad as some people think C.I.A. behavior was, with regard to these 100-or-so detainees, if everyone on the planet used C.I.A. behavior as the model, the overall treatment of detainees on earth would actually improve.
Should that be the standard, however?
Well, Brian, the standard was, what is lawful, effective, and appropriate at a time of great extremists in the United States, with 3,000 fellow citizens who’ve been murdered.
What if you, God forbid, members of your family had to undergo some of the treatments we are reading about in this report? Can you personalize it in that way?
I can, Brian. And clearly, look, Brian, we’re people who, like you and all your viewers, we have a soul and a conscious, too. We knew as bad as these people were, we were doing this to fellow human beings. So, don’t ever forget that.
Now, you asked me about my family members. I actually think, Brian, that my concern, or my outrage, if that were ever done to any of my family members, would be somewhat muted if my family members had just killed 3,000 of my citizens.
You are foursquare in defense of everything. All of the physical activities described as torture, contained in today’s document. Support them then, support them now, and would do them again?
Hey, Brian, this isn’t a response here about defending torture. I’m here talking to you about defending history. What we really could have used is a really non-political look at the C.I.A. program. The one that was launched when this report first got underway. This report was supposed to have conducted interviews, hearings, and give recommendations.
It doesn’t have any of those. I was in government for ten years after 9/11, and let me tell ya, a phrase I never heard from anybody in any position of authority: “Whatever you guys do about this terrorism threat, please, please don’t overreact.” Never heard it, Brian.
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NBC NIGHTLY NEWS WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS
“NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” is America’s most-watched evening newscast, going beyond the day’s headlines to uncover stories of how people’s lives are affected by the world around them. “NBC Nightly News” reaches over 24 million people every week through its broadcast and millions more through NBCNews.com, the “Nightly News” app, and social media platforms. Brian Williams is the anchor and managing editor and Patrick Burkey is the executive producer.
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