The head of the Central Intelligence Agency told The Washington Times the United States faces a threat level that has not been experienced for many decades.
"Terrorism in the 21st century is the kind of threat our country hasn't faced in a very long time," Hayden told the newspaper in a report published Sunday. "The individual safety of Americans is at risk like at no time since probably our own Civil War, and we're trying to deal with the challenge in a way that doesn't change our nation's DNA."
Hayden, a 63-year-old four-star Air Force general, said the CIA needs to get "back to what the nation needs it to be doing -- its espionage function, its analytic function and its covert-action function."
John McLaughlin, a former acting CIA director who replaced George Tenet in 2004, told the Times explained the difficulty of leading one of the "youngest intelligence agencies" in the world.
"When something goes wrong, it's usually said it's an intelligence failure, not a policy failure," McLaughlin said. "We're not mature as a country when it comes to intelligence."