By PAMELA HESS WASHINGTON (AP) — Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden angrily struck back Saturday at assertions the Bush administration's post-9/11 surveillance program was more far-reaching than imagined and was largely concealed from congressional overseers.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hayden maintained that top members of Congress were kept well-informed all along the way, notwithstanding protests from some that they were kept in the dark.
"One of the points I had in every one of the briefings was to make sure they understood the scope of our activity 'They've got to know this is bigger than a bread box,' I said," said Hayden, who also previously headed the National Security Agency.
"At the political level this had support," said the one-time CIA chief, jumping foursquare into an escalating controversy that has caused deep political divisions and lingering debate on the counterterrorism policies of an administration now out of power.
Hayden was reacting to a report issued Friday by a team of U.S. inspectors general which called the surveillance program in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks "unprecedented." The report also questioned the program's legal rationale and the excessive secrecy that enshrouded it. (continues...)