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Former NSA director Michael Hayden says air strikes are just like ‘casual sex’

Did we mention he's also the former head of the NSA?


Eric Geller


Posted on Sep 12, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 2:41 pm CDT

A retired military officer discussing President Barack Obama’s proposed campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) went for an odd metaphor, comparing air strikes to casual sex.

Michael Hayden, a retired Air Force general who was also the director of both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), told US News & World Report that the two activities were more similar than one might think.

“The reliance on air power has all of the attraction of casual sex,” Hayden said. “It seems to offer gratification but with very little commitment.”

The comment went unnoticed after the US News story ran on Thursday, but blew up after it surfaced on the CNN program @THIS HOUR late Friday morning.

As usual, Twitter delivered penetrating analysis.

How Can We Make The Millennials Care About ISIS

— Brett LoGiurato (@BrettLoGiurato) September 12, 2014

They’re just the tip? RT @ElaheIzadi: I think we need to talk about this.

— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) September 12, 2014

Tinder, but for bombing the Middle East RT @ElaheIzadi: I think we need to talk about this.

— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) September 12, 2014

Jesus, what kind of sex is this guy having?

— Amy Littlefield (@amylittlefield) September 12, 2014


— Brett LoGiurato (@BrettLoGiurato) September 12, 2014

“all the ladies call me ‘surgical strike'”

— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) September 12, 2014

“Glib and clever analogy aside, does he have a point?” CNN’s Michaela Pereira asked her guest, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona.

Francona agreed with Hayden’s point, saying, “We can’t do what needs to be done strictly from the air.”

“It’s going to require boots on the ground,” Francona said. “Whose boots on the ground is the big question.”

Photo via Matt Hecht/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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*First Published: Sep 12, 2014, 1:55 pm CDT