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Let's Talk Security

​The keynote speaker at Wednesday’s opening session of the ASIS 2015 Seminar and Exhibits was General Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general in the U.S. Air Force who is the former director of the CIA, former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), and former principal deputy director of national intelligence. In his speech, he analyzed the evolution of threats from around the world. After his remarks, Hayden sat down with Security Management for a wide-ranging interview. 

Q. A lot of our readers are security managers. When you took over at the National Security Agency, you were looked on as a reformer. What advice would you give to security managers who come into an organization, want to reform, and want to be a change agent?

A. The absolute requirement is communicate. Do it, and do it and do it and do it. And communicate at all levels, and communicate directly. So do not let your message go through echelons before it gets to Joe Schmogatelli here who came on board yesterday. Have town hall meetings, write e-mails. I used to write e-mails to the entire workforce, saying, ‘Hey, here’s what I’m thinking.’ 

Q. How did you deal with personnel changes?

A. Because our culture was so isolated and so inward-turning, my personnel moves—the big muscle movements—were bringing in people from the outside. So I got my inspector general from an ad in the Wall Street Journal. My chief financial official came from Legg Mason in Baltimore. My chief of research came from Disney. All three of them were very good. 

Q. Would you say that you learned the practice of management from the military?

A: Oh yeah. Absolutely. And the military’s good, the military trains you, unlike other institutions. They actually expect people to advance and take on greater responsibility. So the military spends an awful lot of time building the person they want you to be. 

Q. Security managers see ex-military as a great resource for new hires, but they are concerned about the transition from military to the private sector. Thoughts?

A: I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but I’m a little surprised at it. You know, we’re not the Prussian military. We’re the military of a democratic republic. And, you achieve things through genuine leadership, not through: ‘Here are your orders.’ 

I used to go, once a year, to the three- and four-star meeting of the Air Force. One of the constant questions I got was, ‘what’s it like leading all those civilians?’ And I said, well, you know all the stuff you learned to do as a squadron commander? Like eating with the troops, and taking care of their families? It still works. 

Q. You mentioned Edward Snowden (earlier in the interview). Just this morning I heard he’s just joined Twitter…and is following NSA. What’s your reaction to that?

A: The young man’s obviously bright. But he’s not as bright as he thinks he is, and he’s not as knowledgeable about this as most people seem to concede that he is. And that’s no reflection of his character or his intellect. He just couldn’t have been. He wasn’t at the agency that long. And he wasn’t there in a variety of positions. He was fundamentally on the administrative side of the agency. 

You know what? He’s kind of yesterday’s news. He’s put all these stories out there, and guess what? NSA’s still working. We will intercept the communication of even friendly heads of state if we choose to. Metadata? Yeah, we’re still going to do bulk collections. 


Ray Kelly boasts a 50-year career in public service, 12 of those serving as New York City’s police commissioner, including during the 1993 and 2001 World TradeCenter attacks. Security Management sat down with him to get his views on the state of law enforcement today. 

Q: After the 9-11 attacks, you helped establish the first counterterrorism bureau of any municipal police department in the country. Why do you think New York City is such a target for terrorism? 

A: I always say that terrorism is theater, and the world’s biggest stage is New York…you’ve got the communications capital of the world there, so many radio and television stations. So if you want to make a statement, that’s the place to make it. That’s why New York is an enduring target, and that’s why in my judgment New York will be a target for many years to come.

Q: During your time as commissioner, how did New York City law enforcement work with other agencies to prevent attacks?

A: In my new book, Vigilance, I talk about each one of the 16 terrorist plots that we thwarted. Each one is different. Some were sting operations, others were, ‘hey we have information this guy is coming to New York with a bomb,’ or information coming from the National Security Agency or FBI–so it takes a lot of coordination. The goal is always to prevent; you don’t want to have to go after someone after the fact, after the deed is done.

Q: You’ve spoken out about the practice of stop-and-frisk, and you criticized a New York judge’s ruling last year that limited the practice. Is this change having an impact on law enforcement’s ability to do their job? 

A: I think stop, question, and frisk is a valuable tool–it’s a deterrent. It’s a pejorative term now that really should have been ‘field interrogation’ or something, because that’s more descriptive of what it is. Because everybody is not frisked. To the extent stop-and-frisk is not practiced, and you’re a person who has a gun, you’ll have more of a tendency to carry that gun if you know that police officers are directed to back away, or are on their own volition backing away. 

Q: It seems there’s been more coverage than ever before about police brutality and the shooting of unarmed individuals. How do you think police are affected by media coverage? 

A: There’s no question about it—videos that we’re seeing today have a negative impact on the police and people’s opinion of the police. That’s affected police in a lot of ways. And you have the ‘Ferguson effect,’ where cops are less willing to engage than they have been in the past. I think that is problematic because I think crime will go up as a result. 

Q: So how do you feel about body cameras worn by police? 

A: I like them. I didn’t always go for them, and I hesitated a little bit because it will cause attention [to the police]. I wanted to see how much it affected a cop’s willingness to respond, but I changed my opinion based on the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. The cop who shot Walter Scott in the back–you have to believe that no rational thinking police officer would do that if he were wearing a camera. So I think all in all it’s a good thing, and cameras will show much more heroic and beneficial efforts on the part of the police to end inappropriate conduct.