Michael Hayden, former head of both the National Security Agency and the CIA, says the difference between U.S. actions and Russia in the 2016 presidential election is that “once they got that information, they weaponized it.”
“I have to admit my definition of what the Russians did [in hacking the Democratic National Committee] is, unfortunately, honorable state espionage,” Hayden said on Tuesday at a Heritage Foundation event.
"A foreign intelligence service getting the internal emails of a major political party in a major foreign adversary? Game on. That’s what we do,” he said.
Hayden speculated that Russian President Putin was emboldened to attack “because he is convinced we do this to him all the time. We don’t.”
Hayden recommended responding to the hacks in the broader context of Russian action, not as a problem caused and only solvable within the cyber sector.
“Do not drop this in the cyber problem box. Drop this in the Russia problem box. Do not treat this by its means, treat it by its actor,” Hayden said.
“By the way, that Russia problem box — we’re going to need a bigger box.”