After Trump Attack on Media, Ex-CIA Director Asks If He 'Wasted' Career

After President Donald Trump accused CNN International of being a "major source of (Fake) news" abroad, an exasperated former CIA and NSA director asked rhetorically if he had wasted much of his life in defense of the U.S.

"If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life," Gen. Michael Hayden, ret., wrote on Twitter in response to Trump's tweet Saturday. "Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment."

Hayden is a retired Air Force four-star general who led the NSA from 1999 to 2005 and the CIA from 2006 to 2009.

On Saturday evening, Trump tweeted, ".@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!"

Trump has often targeted the mainstream media in general and CNN specifically in response to critical coverage, which he assails as "Fake News." But his ire is usually reserved for CNN's domestic side rather than its international arm. Trump also regularly praises Fox News, whose opinion-side programs staunchly defend the president and his policies.

On the same day as Trump's tweet, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law amendments that will force some foreign media outlets to register as foreign agents to operate in Russia. (Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Justice directed the American arm of the state-run Russian outlet RT to register as a foreign agent in the U.S.)

After Trump's tweet, John McLaughlin, himself a former Acting Director of the CIA under George W. Bush, responded on Twitter, "If you favor CNN OR Fox and are not dismayed by this, you may now be numb and no longer capable of outrage. Scary if that’s our new normal."

Hayden and McLaughlin's comments are the latest from former intelligence officials who served under Republican and Democratic administrations to take Trump on for his attacks on the media.

In February William McRaven, a former Navy SEAL and the admiral who oversaw the secret mission that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, said in a speech, "We must challenge this statement and this sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the American people,” according to the Daily Texan. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

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