From NBC's Betsy Cline
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden refused to comment specifically about the CIA's hiring of private security contractor Blackwater to assassinate top Al Queda leaders in 2004, saying he doesn't comment on "concrete actions." He was also quick to point out the program reportedly occurred before he took office in 2006.
In a discussion about the privatization of security forces at the National Press Club this morning, Hayden, now a private contractor himself, said the CIA turns to the private sector when "they possess experience or knowledge that [the CIA] doesn't inherently have."
His focus, he said, was to find "whoever was best suited for the job."
Answering critics, Hayden told the audience that people who accuse the CIA of turning to contractors when there's a hard problem "are simply wrong." Referencing reports that the agency uses private security forces to avoid blame, Hayden was adamant.
"We do not go outside the agency in order to deflect responsibility," he said. "Period."
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also defended the use of private contractors, saying it was because Congress refused to allocate enough money to hire government employees.
"[Congress] complains we're using too many contractors, so we go 'Okay, we want to increase the budget and hire more people in-house,'" Chertoff said. "Then Congress goes, 'No, no; now we're angry, so we're going to cut the budget.'"