Sen. Tommy Tuberville is accusing retired Air Force general and former Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden of “calling for a politically motivated assassination.” While the CIA has a rich history of assassination attempts, Republican United States senators were not the typical targets, nor did Hayden actually do that.
As Tuberville continues his blockade on military promotions, Hayden responded to a tweet asking if Tuberville should be removed from his committee assignments with a suggestion of his own: “How about the human race?” Tuberville did not take this as the glib statement about his own worthiness to be considered human that Hayden obviously intended it as. No, the Alabama Republican decided to read it as an assassination threat and reported it to the Capitol Police, saying, in a statement, “If we still have a nonpolitical justice system in this country, then General Hayden will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Gosh, what a sneaky setup for insisting it was politically motivated when Hayden does not get prosecuted.
“This morning, my office was made aware of a statement made by General Michael Hayden calling for a politically motivated assassination. This statement is disgusting, and it is repugnant to everything we believe in as Americans,” Tuberville said in the statement. “Given General Hayden’s long career in Washington, he must have known that, by making such a statement, he was committing a serious crime. His own efforts today to reinterpret what he said are only a tacit admission of guilt.”
Here’s Hayden’s alleged effort to “reinterpret” what he said:
Hayden spent four years as a vocal critic of Donald Trump, with Trump threatening to revoke his security clearance. Tuberville and his followers are extremely small potatoes by contrast, and Hayden is doubtless well aware of what actual death threats look like and what constitutes protected speech.
This isn’t the first time Hayden has publicly criticized Tuberville for his military promotion blockade, which Tuberville is waging in a temper tantrum over Defense Department policy covering travel for service members or their families to obtain reproductive health care, including abortion. And the previous time, he did have to explain his meaning: Hayden initially answered “Absolutely” to the question “Is it wrong to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville a racist?” He then clarified: “I have aphasia. Sometimes my meaning isn’t clear. What I meant to say is Tuberville absolutely is a racist. Or, in other words, it is not wrong to say he is a racist.” By contrast, saying “I stand by” the “suggestion that ‘Coach’ Tuberville not be considered a member of the human race” is repeating the insult, which was never a threat.
Tuberville sure is working hard to make himself a victim in a week when he’s under increased pressure to allow military promotions to pass amid the war in Israel.