Michael Hayden is a man’s man – yea, a Manly Man – a career Air Force officer, former CIA Director and lifelong, hardcore fan of the blue-collar Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet: Hayden is also a man of deep emotional feeling.
If that last phrase sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the precise language Hayden used recently in an attack against Senator Dianne Feinstein (carried out, surprise, surprise, on “Fox News”). It was aimed preemptively at a secret report, which DiFi’s been laboring over for years as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, detailing the CIA’s use of torture during Hayden’s years as a top spy under George Waterboard Bush.
As every schoolchild knows, Feinstein’s behind-the-scenes battle with the CIA recently burst into public view, when she proclaimed publicly the report would ensure “an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation” would never happen again.
Hayden’s sexist response — “That sentence – that motivation for the report — may show deep, emotional feeling on the part of the senator, but I don’t think it leads you to an objective report” — has been hammered effectively, both by her colleagues and by the inestimable Cathy Decker.
What has been less noted is that Hayden himself has a history of huffy, hissy-fit tossing, which a reasonable person (we name no names) could describe as “emotional.” This YouTube clip, for example, shows how Hayden, the father of the National Security Agency’s surveillance dragnet of U.S. citizens, gets all peevish and surly when he’s challenged about the constitutionality of his pet project. An excerpt:
REPORTER: I’d like to stay on the same issue. And that has to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I’m no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American’s right against unlawful searches and seizures.
HAYDEN: Actually, the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That’s what it says.
REPORTER: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.
HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.
REPORTER: But does it not say probable —
REPORTER: The court standard, the legal standard —
HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.
A couple of takeaways:
1-Hayden’s assertion that “if there’s any amendment to the Constitution that employees at the National Security Agency are familiar with, it’s the Fourth,” is laughable, given his claim that the amendment does not require the government to have “probable cause” before spying on Americans.
2-The whole exchange at the National Press Club in 2006 represents a reminder and a tidy summary of how the Bush, and now Obama, Administrations have invented a legal fiction to subvert and end-run Congressional strictures on NSA domestic spying. Thanks to Amy Goodman, the full transcript is here.
3-Trained observers may see small puffs of steam leaking out of Hayden’s ears, as the bumps on his head begin to percolate during Stage 1 of a volcanic eruption of his chrome dome. His whole affect is that of an authoritarian personality used to being obeyed, whose self-control starts to slip the moment his prerogative is questioned.
But describing her as “emotional” is just plain silly.
In our collective half-century plus covering politicians in California, we’ve seldom encountered one more repressed and tightly wound as the Senior Senator from California (George Deukmejian comes to mind, except we were there the day he cried on the floor of the state Senate while eulogizing the assassinated George Moscone).
There’s a good reason the author of the greatest Feinstein biography in the history of the publishing industry titled the book, “Never Let Them See You Cry,” (plenty of free parking). It’s drawn from a list of 10 rules for dames trying to make it in a bro’s world that Herself provided to a woman’s magazine when she was S.F.’s mayor.
Not to go all Freudian, but Feinstein’s public persona was forged in childhood, as the oldest of three girls, when she protected and stood up for her sisters against the abusive behavior of a mother who was not of sound mind, and liked her cocktails with an assortment of pills, a secret the prominent Goldman family kept well-hidden from public view:
Painfully discussing the long-hidden past, Dianne and her sisters all recall a childhood of almost constant anxiety and fear. “My mother was an abuser and a basher,” said (youngest daughter) Lynn, remembering the day (mother) Betty forced and held her head under water. “My first memory was of my mother trying to drown me in the bathtub. I was five, and my father pulled me out.” Her mother was “scary, distant and forbidding,” she added. “You never knew what was going to happen.”
Tight from the start: Never a movement feminist, Feinstein began to build her career at a time when it was rare for a woman to seek and be elected to office, let alone be in a position of power (whether in politics, business, medicine, law, journalism, or any other profession) and she prided herself on never displaying, at least in public, signs of emotion, as she adapted herself to traditionally male attitudes and behavior.
The example of her steeliness in the aftermath of the City Hall assassinations in 1978 has been well chronicled, but there are countless, more prosaic episodes that make the point, from the first days of her long climb up the political ladder:
Stanford coed Dianne Goldman walked into the Phi Delta fraternity house on the leafy campus known as ‘The Farm.’ She was running for vice president of the Associated Students, the college student council, and her strategy this spring evening in 1954 was to campaign in the fraternity houses at dinner-time, when she could address the male students in large groups.
As she began her standard earnest pitch about improving the effectiveness and efficiency of student government, she was met with the usual combination of heckling, indifference and snide comments from what she recalled as a “milling throng of insane humanity.” All of a sudden, a student stood up from a table and rushed her and before Dianne knew what was happening, hefted her slender frame over his shoulder.
To the cheers of his fellow scholars, the student hustled her down the hallway and dumped her into a shower, where she was quickly and unceremoniously drenched…
Her response to the episode foreshadowed her approach to politics for the next forty years; rather than protesting or making a fuss about the offensive behavior, she accepted the humiliation as part of the game and promptly returned to her campaign rounds. Then she won the election and got her revenge.
Bottom line: In the Hayden matter, Feinstein typically “stopped short of characterizing Hayden’s comments as sexist,” MSNBC reported, “but she defended her report as “objective, based on fact, thoroughly footnoted, and I am certain it will stand on its own merits.”
Top Secret/Eyes Only Memo to Michael Hayden: Watch out for this one; confidential source reports she’s not pushing on this CIA memo because she’s “emotional.” Source says it’s because she’s “against torture.”
P.S. Some small-minded readers might accuse Calbuzz of hypocrisy in this matter and say, “Hey, men of Calbuzz, wait a minute, you yourself have indulged in chauvinistic rhetoric against Feinstein, describing her as “coy” and the “grand dame of California politics,” a “political window shopper” who performs the “dance of the seven veils” and conducts an “obsessive flirtation with the political spotlight” and is “older than the Golden Gate Bridge.”
To which we say: Well yeah, there is that. But let us be clear: as the fathers of five daughters and two grand-daughters and deep believers, personally and politically, in equal rights for women, we are compelled as journalists to call out Hayden’s brand of sexist cheap shot.
Besides, Dianne’s our turf. Off, spook, off.