Speaking at the 9/11 Memorial Museum on Wednesday, Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA and National Security Agency Director, participated in a wide-ranging and candid discussion about the key moments of decision making in the War on Terror and the current challenges facing intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA.
As director of the NSA on Sept. 11, 2001, Hayden reflected on the transformation of military operations and changing methods of intelligence gathering that came into the fore in the months and years following the attacks.
Reflecting on the new tactics used in the War on Terror, Hayden contrasted the traditional means of fighting an enemy – which often employed frontline troops and demonstrative military might in the form of tanks, planes and other heavy weaponry – with the current battle against terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, whose members are “easy to stop if you can find them,” said Hayden, noting the stratified nature of the fight.
In the clip below, Hayden reflected on the title of his book, “Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror,” which refers to the line of legality that the intelligence agencies must now walk in a time of increased surveillance.
“If I play back from the line, I may be protecting me – or more nobly, I’m protecting my agency – but I’m not protecting [American citizens],” said Hayden. “And so in this case, the moral compulsion is to go all the way to the limit – not randomly, not haphazardly, not casually – but when the circumstances demand it, you go all the way to the edge."
By 9/11 Memorial Staff