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Tags: Michael Hayden | Benghazi | Abu Khatallah

Gen. Hayden: The State of Iraq Is Gone

By    |   Wednesday, 18 June 2014 11:13 AM EDT

The country of Iraq is, for all intents and purposes, dead and has been replaced by three successor states, former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden told Newsmax TV Wednesday.

"The state of Iraq as we know it is gone, and it's not going to be reconstituted," he told "The Steve Malzberg Show."

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"It's certainly not going to be reconstituted by [Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki.''

Editor's Note: For In Depth Analysis On The State Of Iraq Click Here

He said the only way out of the Iraq mess might be a science fiction-type scenario.

"[I'd] get in the way-back machine, go back three years and undo some incredibly unwise decisions that we made then. That's really the nub of the issue,'' he said.

"We've got three successor states there now," Hayden, a retired four star Air Force general added. "As much as we might look for opportunities to keep Iraq together, we need to be prepared for the reality that it's not going to stay together.

"We should snuggle up comfortable with the Kurds in Kurdistan, who have always been pro-American and actually have a functioning society and state right now. We should give help to the Maliki government, sufficient to settle the current conflict so it just doesn't turn into a humanitarian disaster," Hayden said.

"For example, there's fighting around Beiji right now, the oil refinery north of Baghdad. Baghdad needs that for that part of the country to survive, and so we've got to settle the lines of this conflict in a way that Nouri al-Maliki's surviving state, which I'll call Shiastan, has Beiji within it.

"Then we've got Sunnistan, and that's the state under the control of ISIS right now, and frankly, we've got to treat that as if it were a safe haven for terrorists and begin to think about it the way we had thought about Waziristan for the last decade-plus. That's a tough message, and I'm afraid that's where we are.

"Now we're at a point where we really don't have good options," Hayden told Malzberg.

Hayden said "Sunnistan" consists of western Iraq and eastern Syria. "There is no border now," he said.

"This is all going to be very, very hard going forward, and we frankly may have to limit our objectives. In other words, seek to achieve things less than we would have thought to achieve had we made different decisions a few years back."

In another Newsmax TV appearance on Wednesday, Hayden, who was also director of the National Security Agency, said intelligence, not the jurisdiction of a criminal trial, should be the key focus of the government as it pertains to Ahmed Abu Khatallah, suspected ringleader of the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

"Right now, he should be subject to intense intelligence interrogation," Hayden told hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum." 

"Frankly, I'm a bit indifferent to what happens in the court case if and when that comes later. It's a severable decision. Right now, intelligence. Get intelligence from this individual."

Editor's Note: For In Depth Analysis On The State Of Iraq Click Here

Story continues below video.

U.S. Special Forces captured Abu Khatallah over the weekend near Benghazi. CNN reports that he had been on the U.S. government's radar since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.

Abu Khatallah was not in hiding, according to CNN, and had given multiple media interviews even after his name surfaced as the possible mastermind of the attacks.

The network reports that Abu Khatallah surfaced after years in prison under Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi "to form an Islamist militia and later became associated with Ansar al-Sharia, a group U.S. officials blamed for the 2012 attack."

Samantha Power
, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has indicated that Abu Khatallah will be presented to federal court for criminal prosecution, a subject that has sparked intense controversy in Washington.

Some on the right, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, are calling for the accused to be held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because giving him Miranda rights and trying him in the United States could jeopardize U.S. intelligence.

Hayden countered that there exists a technical, legal question about whether Abu Khatallah can be considered an enemy combatant, since the use of that term is "tied tightly to the authorization for the use of military force right after 9/11."

"That definition is those responsible for or supporting the attacks of 9/11. Frankly, that gets to be a pretty thin tether when you forward all the way up to what happened in Benghazi a couple of years back."

The United States should keep the suspect on the naval ship where he's being held "for as long as he has intelligence value," said Hayden, who noted the irony that President Barack Obama immediately did away with the 60-day threshold used to get "actionable intelligence" out of a terrorist under the George W. Bush administration.

He also cautioned the Obama administration not to rule out Guantanamo Bay for this or future terror suspects.

"In my heart of hearts, I don't think it's a good position to say that Guantanamo is not an acceptable answer for anyone we might capture now or in the future," he said.

Related Stories:
  • US: Captured Benghazi Suspect Was Preparing More Attacks on Americans

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It may be all over but the shouting in Iraq, says Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden. "The state of Iraq as we know it is gone, and it's not going to be reconstituted," he told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Wednesday.
Michael Hayden, Benghazi, Abu Khatallah
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 11:13 AM
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