Violent protests in Libya that claimed the life of the U.S. ambassador were the result of President Obama’s decision to intervene in the Libyan revolt without a “deep appreciation” for what would follow, former CIA Director Michael Hayden tells Newsmax.
Hayden, a former four-star Air Force general, was appointed CIA director by President George W. Bush in 2006 and served until 2009.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV on Wednesday, Hayden discusses the events in Libya: “I’m reminded of Secretary of State Powell’s comments about Iraq going back almost a decade — the Pottery Barn theory that if you break it you own it.
“Here’s a case where we went into Libya for reasons that seemed very powerful for some people at the time, almost all of them in Tehran, perhaps without a true or deep appreciation for what the secondary and tertiary effects of overthrowing [Libyan ruler Moammar] Gadhafi would be.
“This was always the story we saw in those cell phone videos of oppressed and oppressor, but there were other stories going on too, other narratives — East vs. West in Libya, tribal disputes in Libya, eastern Libya being home of the Islamic Libyan fighting group.
“All these subplots were always out there and once you shatter the old society, these subplots become far more powerful and now we are seeing the results of that: Loss of control, portable air missiles, weapons from Libya being used to grab the northern half of Mali away from the Malian government, which is a good friend of the U.S."
“The U.N. Security Council resolution on Libya was bait and switch. It was never just humanitarian assistance, it was to overthrow the regime," added Hayden.
"As for how that affects the Russians, think about Syria. Now you’ve got a state, a heavily armed state in Libya that is armed at the militia and tribal level. I actually said when we first intervened that we now take on a moral responsibility for the future of the Libyan state and here we are.”
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other members of the U.S. diplomatic mission were killed in Benghazi, the cradle of the Libyan revolution, on Wednesday in protest at a movie that depicts the prophet Muhammad.
In addition to the protests in Libya, demonstrators in Egypt tore down an American flag and burned it. Hayden, a member of the advisory board of LIGNET.com, was asked if State Department officials in other countries, particularly the Middle East, are in greater danger.
“I am sure that the cables have gone out to the appropriate embassies in that region saying be on your guard, increase security, strengthen your liaison with local government in order to get a warning of impending demonstrations or attack,” he responds.
“You might even see people being told to vary their times en route to work. You might see other people being told to stay at home. You’ve got to take all appropriate precautions, although I must admit that if you were going to predict two countries in which these events were to take place I would’ve predicted Egypt and Libya as being the two that were most volatile and the two where these events would’ve been most likely.”
Libyan military forces and police were slow to act once the protest in Benghazi developed. Asked if they may have been complicit in the demonstrations, Hayden tells Newsmax: “I really don’t know, and a wise man once told me several decades ago, never blame on malice what can easily be explained by incompetence. So we’re just going to see how the facts take us with regard to what the Libyan government did and didn’t do.”
The protests were sparked by the YouTube trailer of a movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” which insults the Prophet Muhammad. Florida pastor Terry Jones, who had inflamed anger in the Muslim world in 2010 with plans to burn the Koran, said he had promoted the film, which was produced by an Israeli-American property developer.
Regarding Jones, Hayden says: “Blood on his hands is a strong statement, but actions have consequences. These are reasonably predictable consequences, so I do think that someone who set this chain of events in motion bears some measure of responsibility.
“But when you come right down to it, one of our fundamental values is freedom of speech. We have a right to say that. People have a right to say things even if those things are offensive. Frankly, that’s a real test of freedom of speech, isn’t it?”
Asked why protests turned so violent in Libya but not in Egypt, Hayden says: “On the surface, Libya is a far more fractured society. It is all controlled by a variety of competing armed groups. It could be a case where arms in the hands of violent ill-tempered men are more numerous than they are in Egypt.”
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