Michael Hayden, former Director of the NSA and CIA and US Air Force four-star general, gave a talk as part of the President’s Lecture Series.
In a lecture titled “Danger, Complexity, and Immediacy: Today’s Security Challenges,” General Hayden spoke on some of the major issues affecting domestic security at the moment, dividing them into five “tectonics,” or macro movements. Hayden covered a lot of ground over the course of the hour-long lecture, touching on subjects ranging from technological advancements in terrorist groups, to the changing geopolitical boundaries of nation-states over time, to Russian and Iranian nuclear operations, to our tenuous relationship with China.
He began the talk by reassuring the audience, “As ugly as the world is today, I have seen it more dangerous,” though he quickly followed up with, “But never more complicated.”
Terrorism, transnational crime, and cyber attacks no longer require state-sponsored actors. “I never used to lose sleep over religious fanatics living in the Hindu Kush. But we now do,” Hayden said.
On the controversial Iranian nuclear deal, Hayden cautioned the audience, “If this deal works exactly as we have designed it, and there is no cheating, in about ten years, Iran will have an industrial-strength nuclear industry… [with] enough highly-enriched uranium to build a bomb… I’m not trying to be prescriptive, but rather, descriptive.” Hayden concluded his mixed thoughts with a passage from his latest book. “I don’t know if [the Bush administration] would have bought this deal, but it’s not like we had a lot of better ideas either.”
Michael Hayden has had a long career in many branches of the U.S. government. He first enlisted in the Air Force in 1969, working his way to four-star general, and eventually becoming Commander of the Air Intelligence Agency in 1999. From there, he began his tenure as Director of the National Security Agency and Chief of the Central Security Service in 1999, up to 2005. It was during this time that Hayden authorized the domestic surveillance program known internally, and now publicly, as PRISM, immediately following the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. After leaving the NSA, Hayden served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2008. He is now retired, and teaches as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University. He is also a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy.
Source: The Stute, April 1