The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: General Michael V. Hayden

General Michael V. Hayden: The Assault on Intelligence

Being completely honest, most of this talk went over my head. I tried to take notes as I was trying to take notes as I was listening, but they were speaking very quickly, and I couldn’t really comprehend what they were saying. This is my attempt at notes:

  • First off, this talk has started out very political, which is not what I was expecting. They are barely talking about security of surveillance or anything like that, which is what I was expecting. I’m not a very political person and I’ve never been interested in political issues in America, so a lot of this stuff just kind of flew over my head. As of now, it’s been 25 minutes, and they’ve mostly been talking about politics. It seems like they don’t like Trump.
  • Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, Wilsonian, Jacksonian. Says Trump is Jeffersonian.
  • Why did x happen in America? x= Al-qaeda, rise of Isis, etc. A mixture of instability between people in America, and a drifting of political culture. Grievance to post-truth drift. Social Media is like a Dorito. A Dorito looks like a tortilla chip, but instead it just delivers salt and fat. Social media seems good, but the more you use it, the more you get pulled into your own self-identity.
  • 3 principles in internationalist view: immigration is good for America’s economy, trade is good for America’s economy, and alliances are good. Isn’t that kind of obvious?
  • If the president decides that the national security of the US needs a nuclear attack, how does that happen?
    • It has to bounce between a few groups/people.
    • Hayden is concerned about miscalculation.
    • This man definitely doesn’t like Trump.
  • They talked a bit about what is going on today on Capitol Hill with Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford and all that business.
  • Drew a relationship between the William Jennings Bryant and the presidential race today. Bryant didn’t want to adapt to the times and go along with industrialization. It was a bit unclear what he said about how it relates today.
  • The audience is probably 85% adults, 12% law students who were either interested or had to come to this, and then there are a few undergrads here. I was definitely not prepared for this. I think most of the people here know this stuff well enough to know what is being talked about, so I definitely don’t fit in here very well.






A Higher Moral Purpose

The Chancellor’s Lecture series featured guest General Michael V. Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director interviewed by Chancellor Zeppos and Professor Jon Meacham. A topic General Hayden addressed was the morality and ethicality of his past work. He acknowledged “We (intelligence agencies) operate in a grey space…It (the work of the CIA and NSA) only has a moral justification because it is attached to a higher moral purpose. If you believe a higher moral does not exist, it undercuts your job.” He said for those employees of intelligence agencies who question the ethics of their work, they should ask question such as “ Am I still part of the good thing? Does this matter? Does what I do make a difference?

My interpretation of his words were: it is acceptable to invade people’s privacy if it reaps a greater benefit for the people. This is a similar stance to the one I took in my first paper: protection of life justifies the means. However, after hearing his words, I realized the analysis of the existence of a higher moral purpose is very subjective. For example, person A may believe invading the privacy of 20 people to capture one criminal may be morally acceptable. However, person B may value privacy more and believes the benefit is worth the cost if only ten people’s privacy are invaded. This lead me to wonder, how do you define a higher moral purpose if morals differ from person to person? What self-regulating policies are in place for central intelligence agencies to ensure every single action which invades the privacy of a citizen or foreigner is serving a higher moral purpose? 

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