Ex-CIA, NSA chief Michael Hayden: 2016 rhetoric 'scares me'

Story highlights

  • Former CIA and NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden says the rhetoric from the GOP candidates in the presidential race is scary
  • And he suspects the rest of the world is concerned, too

Washington (CNN)Former CIA and National Security Agency Director Gen. Michael Hayden says the rhetoric from the GOP candidates in the presidential race is scary -- and he suspects the rest of the world is concerned, too.

Hayden was responding Thursday to a question from CNN's Michael Holmes about the rhetoric on the campaign trail, with Holmes mentioning Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's promise of carpet bombing ISIS and GOP front-runner Donald Trump's praise for waterboarding and harsher interrogation techniques as well as a proposed temporary ban on foreign Muslims.
    "We have taken ... very complicated, serious issues and we've pushed them down to the level of bumper stickers," Hayden said. "That scares me and I'm sure it scares a lot of the rest of the world."
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    In terms of the U.S. position in the world, Hayden said America is doing a good job at what he called the "close battle," or immediate fights. But he said we lagged in the "deep battle," which is stopping people planning to do harm to the U.S. three to 10 years down the road.
    And he added the world has significantly changed and the West needs to realize it.
    "Iraq no longer exists. Syria no longer exists. They aren't coming back. Lebanon is teetering and Libya is long gone," Hayden said.
    "This is a tectonic moment," he added. "Within that we then have the war against terrorism. It's an incredibly complex time."