Former CIA director Michael Hayden, a Bush administration appointee, said Wednesday that today’s Republican Party is the most dangerous political force he’s ever seen.
Hayden, who is a retired U.S. Air Force four-star general and also the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), made his claim on Twitter, in response to a tweet by Financial Times associate editor Edward Luce.
“I’ve covered extremism and violent ideologies around the world over my career. Have never come across a political force more nihilistic, dangerous and contemptible than today’s Republicans. Nothing close,” Luce wrote in the tweet.
“I agree,” Hayden wrote in response to the tweet. “And I was the CIA Director.”
I agree. And I was the CIA Director https://t.co/LRAHDDyy4n
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) August 17, 2022
Hayden served as the CIA’s chief from May 2006 until February 2009. He was appointed by former President George W. Bush, and he was confirmed to his post by every Senate Republican who was present that day, except for one, Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.).
Hayden was also the NSA director from March 1999 until April 2005, appointed by former President Bill Clinton. During his tenure, he oversaw the NSA’s controversial warrantless wiretapping program put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Hayden has recently been warning about the damage that former President Donald Trump is doing to the country. Despite being a Republican, he endorsed Joe Biden for president in 2020 and even cut a video for him.
“If there is another term for President Trump, I don’t know what will happen to America,” Hayden said in the Oct. 2020 video released by Republican Voters Against Trump. He cited Trump’s disregard for the truth, his refusal to reject the actions of violent white supremacist groups and his disregard for America’s allies as reasons the nation could be in jeopardy.
Republican National Committee spokesperson Emma Vaughn criticized Hayden for “labeling half of Americans” as worse than the Islamic State group or al-Qaeda.
“Dangerous rhetoric from the left led to an assassination attempt on a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, a shooting at a Congressional baseball practice, Molotov cocktails at pregnancy centers, rampant crime in major cities, and an open border,” said Vaughn, despite no evidence that any of those matters are the result of Democratic rhetoric. “Call out the left on their threatening hyperbole, then we will talk.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.