CIA Chief on Openness: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

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Tell them everything they want to know. Even if I don’t.

CIA director Michael V. Hayden is said to be pushing his subordinates facing congressional inquiries to come clean on all activities, according to an agency-wide email obtained by Congressional Quarterly‘s Tim Starks (sub. req.):

In a Jan. 5 e-mail, Gen. Michael V. Hayden said the intelligence agency “must be as responsive as possible to all members of Congress and as proactive as possible in our dealings with congressional leaders and oversight committees.”

. . . The day before, Hayden told a “town meeting” of CIA employees to expect an aggressive oversight effort in the 110th Congress from Democrats on both the House and Senate Intelligence committees.

“Frankly, I welcome it,” Hayden said, according to one attendee. “I actually think the more they know about us, the better it is for our agency.”

It’s a refreshing new policy, if Hayden is at all serious. One could be forgiven for doubting his sincerity, however. Hayden himself may have broken the law by misleading Congress about the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, as former NSC staffer Mort Halperin pointed out a year ago.As head of the National Security Agency, Hayden testified before Congress in 2002 that the NSA had “no authority” to spy on persons within the United States without a secret warrant. In fact, the NSA appears to have been eavesdropping on U.S. persons without a warrant at that time, under an authority asserted by the White House to order the agency to do so.

(And let’s not forget that Hayden’s CIA is currently stonewalling federal prosecutors who are trying to understand how millions of dollars in taxpayer money may have been fraudulently spent via secret CIA contracts.)