The former head of the CIA and the NSA, General Michael Hayden, is coming to Washington to talk with one of the country’s leading national security experts on how truth and reason became endangered species and what it portends for our public discourse and the future of American leadership.
“Truth Decay – National Security In The Age Of Lies”, the final event for the year in the annual interactive series “Conversations On the Green,” will focus on the threats facing the sprawling intelligence community and how the country is endangered by the growing tendency to see facts as malleable.
In addition to General Hayden, a preeminent intelligence authority who has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, the October 14 program will feature a leading civilian expert on nuclear arms, Joseph Cirincione, president of The Ploughshare Fund, a global security foundation.
The 90-minute discussion, in which everyone is invited to participate, grows out of the mushrooming national debate on whether President Trump’s criticism of the intelligence community endangers the country’s national security. It is any president’s most basic Constitutional duty and his preeminent cudgel, the phrase used to motivate the country and justify almost anything and everything – secrecy, lies, discrimination, authoritarianism. National security shapes the national and international debate, technology, research, budgets. Patriots drape themselves in its ennobling folds; scoundrels use it as a shield while wielding it as a bludgeon. Just its mention provokes a national primal scream, summoning such basic emotions that reason becomes an afterthought.
But what is national security? It’s been a foundational conundrum, especially since the birth of the nuclear age and the threat of instant annihilation. But the factual consensus that used to regulate the mainstream debate over national security has frayed and broken as the very concept of “objective truth” fades, to use George Orwell’s guiding phrase.
And that has provoked new divisions that threaten us all.
“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for who the distinction between fact and fiction – i.e. the reality of experience – and the distinction between true and false – i.e. the standards of thought – no longer exist,” Hannah Arendt, the philosopher and political theorist, wrote in her 1951 oeuvre, “The Origins of Totalitarianism.”
Donald Trump lies so prolifically that he’s debased the currency of conversation. “Truth,” Trump’s Orwellian lawyer, Rudy Giuliani summarized, “isn’t truth.” Trump’s lies – about everything from the investigations into Russian election interference to his popularity and achievements – are only the brightest blinking red light among many warnings of his assault on democratic institutions and norms, Michiko Kakutani wrote earlier this year in The Guardian.
How did this happen? How did truth and reason become such endangered species, and what does the threat to them portend for our public discourse and the future of our politics and governance? General Michael and Cirincione, will hone in on those questions in a discussion entitled “Truth Decay – National Security In The Age Of Lies. Produced by Ambassador William Luers, it will focus on the threats facing the intelligence community and how malleable facts endanger the country.
A retired four-star Air Force and the winner of the Distinguished Service among a host of other medals, General Hayden has directed both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency and has emerged as one of the foremost critics of Pres. Trump., During his tenure at the NSA, he oversaw the agency’s warrantless surveillance program, which monitored communications between persons in the country and abroad, which critics saw as an effort to silence opponents of the Obama Administration.
Since retiring, Hayden has become a scathing critic of the Trump administration, appearing frequently as a national security expert on all the leading talking head shows. He has also written two best-selling books, “The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies,” a blistering critique of the looming threats facing the intelligence community, and “Playing The Edge,” an unapologetic insiders view from his years inside the Looking Glass.
The president of the Ploughshares Fund, Joseph Cirincione has worked on nuclear weapons policy in Washington for over 35 and is a mainstay on Tv cable news. He previously served as vice president for national security at the Center for American Progress and as director for non-proliferation at Carnegie Endowment and worked for nine years on the House Armed Services and Government Operations committees. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he was a security advisor to Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
Cirincione’s commentary has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and many other publications. He also is the author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It is Too Late;” “Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons” and “Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Threats.”
All proceeds benefit Greenwoods Counseling Referrals Inc., Susan B. Anthony Project and New Milford Hospital.
Sunday, October 14, 3 – 4:30 pm
Tickets start at $45
The Bryan Memorial Town Hall
2 Bryan Hall Plaza