Michael Hayden, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director under President George W. Bush, delivered a speech yesterday where he outlined the ways that President Barack Obama has managed a “practical consensus,” which has fostered “powerful continuity between two vastly different presidents”—himself and his predecessor, Bush.
At the University of Michigan last Friday, according to Wired, Hayden said, “Obama came to embrace Bush’s positions. Both Bush and Obama said the country was at war. The enemy was al-Qaida. The war was global in nature. And the United States would have to take the fight to the enemy, wherever it may be.”
Hayden noted “targeted killings” had “increased under Obama.” They had gone up because he closed CIA “black site” prisons and ended torture of detainees. Capturing terror suspects for imprisonment became “politically dangerous,” so Obama took another route: he just decided to kill them all. (Of which, Hayden said: “I don’t morally oppose that.”)
The former CIA director highlighted Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo, the administration’s invoking of the state secrets privilege in “war on terror” cases and supporting the continued legalization of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program through the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act. He personally thanked Obama for invoking state secrets because in some of the cases he had been named as a defendant.
This is not the first time that Hayden has spoken about the continuity between Bush and Obama. It is not the first time that conservatives or neoconservatives have highlighted the Obama administration’s expansion and normalization of the “targeted killing” program or other “war on terror” policies Bush became notorious for either. Throughout Obama’s first term, former Bush officials have sought to vindicate themselves over policies for which they were criticized by going to the media or public to make these kinds of statements.