Pittsburgh native and ex-CIA chief Michael Hayden hospitalized after stroke
Former CIA director and Pittsburgh native Gen. Michael Hayden has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke earlier this week.
A statement released Friday by Hayden’s family said he is “receiving expert medical care.”
Hayden, who is 73 and a retired Air Force general, led the CIA from 2006 to early 2009 under President George W. Bush. He also was director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005.
He is a visiting professor at Virginia’s George Mason University, where he founded the Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy and International Security.
Larry Pfeiffer, is director of the center that bears Hayden’s name and works with him now. Pfeiffer, who once was Hayden’s chief of staff at the CIA, said Hayden sees himself as a “straight shooter” who has “dedicated his life to serving the country and the values upon which she was founded.”
He said Hayden is a fact checker, not a political commentator. He said Hayden has run marathons and half-marathons in recent years and has remained fit.
“I don’t ever remember him taking a sick day,” Pfeiffer said.
“Knowing Mike Hayden, his recovery time will exceed every expectation of his doctors, and he will soon be back lending his powerful voice to major national and international issues,” said Mark J. Rozell, dean of George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government. “We look forward to his return to the national debate in major media and forums, and in the classroom back here at George Mason University, his academic home for the past decade.”
Hayden also works as a national security analyst at CNN, where he has been a frequent critic of President Trump. He published a book this year titled, “The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies.”
In 2006, Hayden was the highest-ranking intelligence officer in the U.S. armed forces named by Bush to head the CIA.
Hayden was known as a highly intelligent and hard-working man who learned valuable lessons growing up in Pittsburgh, according to former teachers and a classmate, according to a Tribune-Review story.
“When you are around him, he’s just one of the guys — very warm, very easy to get into a conversation with,” said David Lyons, 62, a teacher at North Catholic High School, where Lyons and Hayden were students together in the 1960s.
A picture of Hayden hangs in a school hall in recognition of his distinguished career, Lyons noted. The friends last saw each other in 2004, when Hayden spoke at the high school’s commencement ceremony.
“I asked when he was going to retire. He more or less said, ‘I’m not seriously thinking about retiring,’” Lyons said.
In a 2006 speech for alumni of Duquesne University — where Hayden received a bachelor’s degree in 1967 and a master’s degree two years later — he spoke of memories from his earliest childhood in a house on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
Steven Vardy, the McAnulty Distinguished Professor of History at Duquesne, taught Hayden in two history courses and had stayed in touch with him over the years, he said in 2006.
“They (the Haydens) are a nice working-class family,” Vardy said. “He really achieved a great deal. I’ve had many former students who did well, but not quite this well.”
Vardy described Hayden as a man of strong intellect and scholastic talent.
“He’s a good speaker and a very upright person with traditional values in the sense of family, honor and faith,” Vardy said. “I’m very proud of him.”
Tribune-Review staff writer Chuck Biedka contributed to this report.