Former CIA director Michael Hayden accused GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, of reducing complex national security and foreign policy issues into "bumper stickers." (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Michael Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and NSA, said foreign policy proposals coming from Republican front-runners are "immoral" and over-simplified.
In an interview with CBS News on Monday, Hayden pushed back against Donald Trump's calls to bring back waterboarding.
"We never did anything to anyone because they deserved it," Hayden said. "This was never looking backward. This was trying to keep Americans safe looking forward. People can argue about what we did, but it was never, never a form of punishment."
Trump told an audience in November: "Believe me, it works. And you know what? If it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway, for what they're doing. It works," referring to waterboarding. The practice, referred to by the CIA as an "enhanced interrogation" technique, was banned by President Obama in 2009, and is widely regarded as a form of torture.
When it came to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's calls to "carpet-bomb [the Islamic State] into oblivion" Hayden was similarly discouraging.
"No, and it would be immoral and it would be unworthy of a republic like ourselves," he said.
Hayden said the foreign policy issues that America's next president faces are thorny, and that Republicans were doing little more than turning them "into bumper stickers."
Republicans have earned similar rebukes from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Hayden, a retired Air Force general, served as head of the National Security Agency from 1999-2005 and as director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006-2009 when he was succeeded by Leon Panetta. He is the only person in U.S. history to have served as the head of both agencies.