What once horrified us has become mundane. In 2008, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl erected a "name blade" honoring Gen. Michael V. Hayden at North Shore Drive and Allegheny Avenue. Gen. Hayden is the Pittsburgh native and Duquesne University graduate who headed the National Security Agency and CIA under President George W. Bush. The problem is that Gen. Hayden should be investigated and prosecuted, not honored.
He was one of Mr. Bush's key enablers in his campaign against civil liberties at home and abroad. At the NSA, Gen. Hayden ran the illegal warrantless-wiretapping program that spied on thousands of Americans. At the CIA he continued the illegal "extraordinary rendition" kidnapping program; he oversaw the network of "black site" secret prisons that President Obama dismantled; and he ran the CIA's program of torturing suspected terrorists. The programs subjected hundreds of innocents to surveillance, detention and torture. What's more, since leaving government, he continues to defend these programs.
It's a travesty that Mayor Ravenstahl gave our city's blessing to Gen. Hayden's illegal and immoral actions. Because of that, a group of citizens has successfully petitioned City Council to consider removing Gen. Hayden's honorary nameplate. This hearing will be held March 1 at 9 a.m. in Council Chambers. If you wish to speak, please call the City Clerk at 412-255-2138 to put yourself on the list of speakers.
Pittsburgh is home to a "City of Asylum" program for persecuted writers, but by honoring Gen. Hayden we stand instead with the secret police and the torturers. Let's tell City Council how we feel about Mayor Ravenstahl's bad choice.