Ex-CIA chief Hayden: Military strike on Iran likely

A former CIA director says military action against Iran now seems more likely because no matter what the U.S. does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program.

Michael Hayden, a CIA chief under President George W. Bush, said that during his tenure “a strike was way down the list of options.” But he tells CNN’s State of the Union that such action now “seems inexorable.”

“In my personal thinking,” Hayden said, “I have begun to consider that that may not be the worst of all possible outcomes.”

Hayden said that the likelihood of a U.S. strike on Iran has risen in the face of Tehran’s defiance to halt its contentions nuclear program, saying “We engage. They continue to move forward.”

“We vote for sanctions. They continue to move forward. We try to deter, to dissuade. They continue to move forward,” he added.

The former CIA chief predicted Iran, in defiance of the international community, planned to “get itself to that step right below a nuclear weapon, that permanent breakout stage, so the needle isn’t quite in the red for the international community.”

Hayden said that reaching even that level would be “as destabilizing to the region as actually having a weapon.”

Hayden also called homegrown terrorism “a devil of a problem” and the most serious threat facing American citizens. “In a democracy it’s incredibly difficult,” he said. “Look, we’ve all made our compromises with al-Qaeda and the al-Qaeda kinds of attacks.

“But how do you build a security structure that guards you against American citizens who are beginning to change in their thinking up to a point where they become a threat to the security of other Americans? That’s a devil of a problem.”

Hayden said that the next step the intelligence community would take to combat homegrown terrorists would inevitably begin to infringe on the privacy of Americans, and that was still too steep of a price to pay.

“What are you or your viewers willing to pay?” he asked CNN interviewer Candy Crowley. “How much would you allow us commerce or privacy or convenience in order to get down to that level of granularity. And frankly, I think American political culture. I think you and I, as citizens, would be uncomfortable going very far in that direction. That what makes this such a devilish problem.”

Hayden also emphasized that the U.S. military should stay in Afghanistan and that al-Qaeda’s influence in the country was waning becomes of the presence of U.S. armed forces. If the U.S. withdrew prematurely, it would be detrimental to American security.

“I would let this go for a while longer,” he said. “With regards to the small number of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, that may be a reflection of American combat power in Afghanistan and if one were to remove that combat power, one would naturally see the number of al-Qaeda rise.”

But it was the Iranian threat that most concerned Hayden, he stressed. The United States, the United Nations and the European Union have imposed new restrictions on Iran over its nuclear enrichment activities, which the West fears could lead it to make a bomb.

The fourth round of U.N. sanctions calls for measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a link to the nuclear or missile programs is suspected and for vigilance on transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank.

On Saturday, several key Iranian officials estimated that the United States and Israel would not dare attempt a military strike of Iran’s nuclear sites, adding that they were confident that Iranian forces would easily repel such an attempt, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

The United States, which has ships in the Persian Gulf, has not ruled out a military strike to thwart what it suspects is an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Iran denies its atomic program is aimed at making weapons.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that Israel and the United States would never strike Iran, saying that “both the U.S. and Zionist regime face internal problems and they know that we make many troubles for them if they attack Iranian territory.”

Yahya Rahim Safav told ISNA, Iran’s news agency, that Iran’s armed forces were “fully prepared and enemies are aware of that, they do not have the power to take a political decision on the issue, because they know they can start the war but are not able to finish it.”

“We need to be fully vigilant of these attacks, the enemy knows that it will regret if launches a land strike against Iran.” Safavi said.

The commander of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad-Ali Ja’fari said that the United States would not dare to attack Iran as it is fully aware of Iran’s defense power and its nation’s determination, Haaretz reported.

Ja’fari also said, according to the IRNA report, that he considered his forces’ preparedness as being at their “highest level,” adding that recent sanctions imposed on Iran in view of its contentious nuclear program would have no impact on Iran’s potency.

Also Saturday, a former naval chief in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said his country has set aside 100 military vessels to confront each U.S. warship that poses a threat. General Morteza Saffari is quoted by the conservative weekly Panjereh Saturday as saying that troops aboard U.S. warships “are morsels for Iran to target in the event of any American threat against Iran.”

In 2008, Iran put its most powerful military force, the Revolutionary Guard, in charge of defending the country’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, a vital oil route. Speaking with the semi-official Fars news agency, Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that the increased U.S. pressure on Iran were prompted by Washington’s desire to advance its “propaganda campaign “and gain control of the region.

Fars quotes Vahidi as saying that a military strike on Iran was unlikely, adding that Israel too was “uttering such remarks in a bid to reduce the growing international pressures through psychological warfare,” Vahidi told Fars.

“We, too, advise them not to seek trouble and tension in the region through spoiling the atmosphere,” Vahidi said.

  • Kerry Owens

    Wonder when Michael Savage will go to Israel to speak up for the palestinians? You know cuz he’s so big on language,culture and borders.Maybe he can remind the jews from eastern europe and america as of 1948 up to today.That they should respect the U.N.borders and for pete sakes they should at least learn the language and culture.And would somebody please tell that zionist pig to stop whining like a little jewish school girl about being banned from England.He sounds as desperate as an illegal trying to gain access into the states.

  • light of day

    We have to be careful here. The people of Iran are not the problem, its their extremist religious government. Remember the protests in the streets recently? These people are intelligent and hard working. Let us not forget, that here in the USA we are also being ruled by an extremist minority. We should be more understanding of their situation. Having said that, Surgical Air Strikes will be necessary to keep the balance and relative peace in the area.

  • jiminga

    MissAnthropy ……great post! I think you scared off Specs are Good for good. He’s just another lib that gets his facts from comic books, and using real facts and logic will run them off every time.

  • jiminga

    The US attacking Iran? Never happen. The US will use Israel as its agent to do the dirty work. That’s why Obummer has been castigating Israel, to put mythical distance between us and provide cover for the US. “Gee, we didn’t know Israel was going to attack and we abhor their actions”. Nothing to see here, move along.

  • anniebanannie

    Gee, I just read this morning that bombing Iran was all Cheney’s idea.

  • rainmaker1145

    The complete and utter destruction of Iran, it’s military and theocracy is unavoidable. The sooner we do it, the sooner we can be done with it and the fewer deaths and costs there will be.

    They brought this on themselves.

    • Specs Are Good

      What exactly have they done that warrants their “complete and utter destruction”? Let’s be clear. Have they done anything we haven’t done as well?

      • MissAnthropy

        I’d be careful trying to lay out a moral equivalency argument. Yes, the USA developed nuclear weapons. That does not mean countries like Iran developing their own is no different. Iran is a hostile theocratic regime that officially supports international terrorist groups. As for anything they’ve done that we haven’t done as well, for one we have not promised to wipe another country off the map because of that country’s mere existence. American policy with regard to its own nuclear arsenal has been one of deterrence. Iran is essentially promising that it will use its aggressively. Your argument seems to boil down to “since America has nuclear weapons then you can’t say anything about any other country building them too”, but this is to pretend that any one country is no different from any other country. Fear not though, for your argument is the one that has prevailed in the halls of power. Iran will have their nuclear weapons. I’m sure the world can accept a few mushroom clouds in the name of egalitarianism.

        • Specs Are Good

          1. Iran’s president never actually promised to wipe Israel off the map. You are thinking of a poor mistranslation of what he said. It has been debunked completely and used for propaganda purposes. Please don’t use that as the basis of murdering potentially hundreds of thousands of people.

          2. It is funny you talk of American using its own nuclear arsenal for “deterrence”, seeing as we are the only country in the world to have used two of them in warfare. Not only that, but many have argued if it was necessary since the japanese were looking to surrender before we used them.

          3. Iran has said many times they only want nuclear technology for domestic energy purposes. This article even says that they won’t actually have technology for nuclear weapons. They have saide repeatedly “Iran denies its atomic program is aimed at making weapons.” Every intelligence agency in the world other than ours confirms they are only developing the technology for peaceful purposes.

          4. They are allowed to have nuclear technology under the terms of the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). We have been demonizing this country for years now and sanctioning them over something they have every right to do under the terms of a treaty we both signed. A treaty that Israel refuses to sign. So in reality, Iran is a better world citizen than our ally.

          • MissAnthropy

            1. Mistranslations, I guess that’s the latest “context”. Since I don’t speak Farsi or whichever dialect he speaks, I guess it’s your translators versus mine. What about his comments about the Holocaust? More mistranslation? Speaking of context, let’s consider also their institutionalized refusal to acknowledge that Israel exists as a nation. All of their school books and maps have it blacked out as “the Zionist Entity”. They also fund, equip, and train terrorist organizations who do attack Israel. It’s reasonable to suspect they will be happy to provide a nuclear warhead if not launch it themselves. Also I am not using any of this as a basis to support murdering potentially hundreds of thousands of people, as you say. I’m not sure that anything CAN be done to stop Iran’s nuclear program, but I’m also not stupid enough to assume a moral equivalence between Iran and the United States, nor do I applaud the prospect of them joining the nuclear club. If potentially hundreds of thousands of people are going to be murdered, I think you’ll find that Iran is far more likely to be the culprit rather than the victim.

            2. I knew you were going to bring up Japan. Your knowledge of WWII is lacking if you really believe what this supposed “many” have argued. Japan refused to surrender even after the first atomic bomb. Her military leadership wanted to go on even after the second one, until the Emperor overruled them (thwarting an attempted coup at the same time). Let us once again refer to the all important “context”. WWII had been raging for almost 6 full years by August 1945, and wholesale bombing of enemy cities was part of the normal prosecution of war by all sides. The right vs. wrong of that policy is a separate debate. The use of the atomic bombs were the most expedient way to beat a defiant enemy into submission while putting the least number of our own at risk. It was the right decision, unless something like the conventional fire bombing of Tokyo, which killed more people than the atomic attacks, would make you feel better because it would have used incendiary phosphorous rather than atomic fission. I suggest the distinction would be academic to those on the receiving end. Has the USA used atomic or nuclear weaponry since then? Everyone was shocked by the destructive power, hence being relegated to a deterrent role. President Truman solidified this position in the Korean War by canning Gen. MacArthur for suggesting their further use. I’m not sure why you are apparently so glib about yet another country gaining this power, because it mathematically increases the probability that they’ll be used somewhere by someone. Since Pandora’s Box can’t be shut now, we should at least frustrate and confound efforts at spreading the capability.

            3. Who are these other intelligence agencies? The Russians and Chinese? They should certainly know all about Iran’s technology since they’ve provided most of it. Remember when most of the world’s intelligence agencies broadly agreed that Hussein had WMDs? That has certainly been the subject of ridicule by the Left ever since. Now the Left is happy to accept their assessments since this time they are ideologically convenient? Iran has also refused offers by other countries to provide them with fuel suitable for power generation, which puts a pretty big ding in their “it’s only for civilian purposes” argument. They want the capability of refining uranium further, into weapons grade material. If you are happy to take Iran’s word at face value I would advise you to never set foot on a used car lot.

            4. Yeah Iran is a great world citizen alright. Cold comfort to the democracy demonstrators last summer, the women stoned to death over trumped up charges of adultery, and the homosexuals executed. All of those people are tolerated and legally protected in Israel, so in reality, I guess Israel is a better world citizen than Iran.

            Really though, this is all pretty much a moot argument. As I said in the previous post, your argument is the one that has prevailed with the people who actually hold power. I don’t need to disprove you or them, Iran is going to do that.

          • Specs Are Good

            You would rather believe the same intelligence agencies that got it wrong about Saddam? Why not believe the people that are providing the legal technology to Iran? Do you really think Russia and China want more countries to have nukes? You think they want to give Iran nukes if they suspect they would hand it off to terrorists? I don’t.

            As far as Iran’s domestic issues, I don’t see what that has to do with being a good world citizen (relations with other countries). I guess you are of the opinion that the US needs to bomb and bring democracy to every country that doesn’t share our same values? If so, I guess you plan on being at war for the rest of all our lifetimes because there are dozens of countries where people don’t share the same moral values as us. I on the otherhand think that trade and peaceful relations will do more to bring our values to other countries than promoting them through the barrel of a gun.