The former director of both the CIA and National Security Agency Michael Hayden criticized President Donald Trump after the president attacked retired Admiral Bill McRaven, the former head of United States Special Forces and the man in command when U.S. Navy SEALs eliminated Osama bin Laden.
Hayden slammed the president’s own counter-terror failures.
“How you doing on Zawahiri, Mr. President?” he wrote, a reference to Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al-Qaeda.
“Bill McRaven is a naval officer and an American hero. Like the ones that gave all at Belleau Woods. You remember them, right?” he added, referring to the American troops who died at the Battle of Belleau Wood during World War I. (Trump was criticized for failing to attend a commemoration ceremony for the soldiers during his visit to France last week.)
How you doing on Zawahiri, Mr President? Abu Bakr al Baghdadi? BillMcRaven is a naval officer and an American hero. Like the ones that gave all at Belleau Woods. You remember them, right? https://t.co/FrE7wjPEg3
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) November 18, 2018
Hayden is not well liked by the Trump administration; he has, in the past, referred to Trump as “disdainful” and “contemptuous.” Earlier this year, the White House included him on a list of individuals who would possibly have their security clearances revoked.
“Such access is particularly inappropriate when former officials have transitioned into highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the time. “Any access granted to our nation’s secrets should be in furtherance of national, not personal, interests. For this reason, I’ve also begun to review the more general question of the access to classified information by government officials.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 16, 2018
Admiral McRaven had criticized Trump after the president dismissed him as a “Hillary Clinton fan” and an “Obama-backer” in a Fox News interview with host Chris Wallace.
Wallace had brought up comments McRaven had made in 2017 about Trump’s repeated attacks on the press, calling them “perhaps the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”
“He’s a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And frankly, wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?” Trump said.
Trump on retired Navy SEAL Adm. Bill McRaven, who called Trump's attacks on the press "the greatest threat to democracy."
"He's a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And frankly, wouldn't it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?" pic.twitter.com/lyaBvC9KFd
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 18, 2018
“I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else,” McRaven said in a statement to CNN on Sunday in response to Trump’s comments. “I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for.”
Saying that he admires all presidents, “regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the Nation together in challenging times,” he added:
“I stand by my comment that the President’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime. When you undermine the people’s right to a free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the Constitution and all for which it stands.”
Via @jaketapper, Ret. Admiral William McRaven's response to Trump: "I stand by my comment that the President's attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime." pic.twitter.com/iubTvPEdwp
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 18, 2018