John Stokes

Memoir wars

Memoir wars
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If M had Miss Moneypenny, General Mike Hayden had Cindy. Both were attractive and of a certain age and both were excellent guardians of the gate. While Miss Moneypenny never caused M any trouble at all,Cindy is turning out to be a focus of a major row between Hayden, the head of the CIA and the National Security Agency during the Bush Presidency, and government lawyers.

The trouble has arisen because Hayden is writing his version of a tell all book which is going to set out his story of how, after the terrorists attacked on 9/11, he persuaded the White House to unleash the full force of NSA’s eavesdroppers on millions of innocent Americans both at home and abroad. Of course, he will also touch on how and why he authorized water-boarding, assassinations and rendition while he was Director of the CIA.

But Hayden wants all the documents that he created while at NSA and has especially asked for Cindy’s notes of the various meetings he had and the appointments he kept. And if anyone knows the secrets, it is her.

But Keith Alexander, the current head of NSA, and Hayden have cordially loathed each other for years. Hayden thinks Alexander is a publicity-seeking blowhard while Alexander thinks Hayden is an ineffective lightweight who has got where he is by sucking up. So now these egos have clashed over the proposed autobiography and NSA is resisting all of Hayden’s efforts to get papers he claims are his.

Meanwhile, all of the other main players from the Bush years including vice president Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condi Rice are already touting their memoirs to New York publishers. So, unless Hayden can square his old enemy, he may end up with a book which lacks whole chunks of key information from his days as Director of NSA.