Ex-CIA chief Michael Hayden: I am not a crook

Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Michael Hayden, who led the CIA during George W. Bush's second term, said today "I didn't lie and I didn't mislead Congress" about torturing war-on-terror detainees during Bush's presidency.

I am not a crook or a liar, Hayden seems to be saying again and again during softball, reverential TV news interviews. But the truth would appear to be that he is both.

From AP:

"I don't know that the report that was released yesterday is that historically accurate," Hayden said in a nationally broadcast interview. "It reads like a prosecutorial screed rather than a historical document."

Regarding claims that the CIA's interrogation techniques were harsher than previously disclosed, he said, "It may be more slightly layered in the details, but everyone knows what waterboarding does. It prompts the anti-drowning reflex in an individual."

"I'm sure it's horrible," he said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. "But it's also horrible for tens of thousands of American airmen whom we used it against for training."

"I disagree with the fact that you're claiming it to be news," he told interviewer Savannah Guthrie. "These topics and subjects were all out there."

In related news, Hayden was joined by former CIA directors George Tenet and Porter Goss, along with three ex-deputy directors, for an op-ed published today in the Wall Street Journal which said the Senate Intelligence Committee report was wrong in saying the agency had been deceptive about its post-9/11 work. The interrogation program, they say, has saved thousands of lives.

"The committee has given us… a one-sided study marred by errors of fact and interpretation–essentially a poorly done and partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America after the 9/11 attacks," they wrote.

In an appearance on MSNBC, Hayden added that he was worried the Senate's report could transform the CIA into a "timid" agency.