Former CIA chief: Trump withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty 'is insane'

A former head of the CIA on Thursday responded to Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, calling the move “insane.”

Gen. Michael Hayden, who served as director of the CIA mostly under President George W. Bush between 2006 and 2009, replied on Twitter to a member of George ConwayGeorge Thomas ConwayGeorge Conway group targets Trump over 'blatant racism' in new ad Former Romney strategist joins anti-Trump Lincoln Project George Conway group lines up body bags in ad hitting Trump on coronavirus deaths MORE’s Lincoln Project in reaction to the news of the withdrawal.

“This is insane,” he said. “I was the director of CIA.”


A senior administration official and a Senate aide confirmed to The Hill that the president is planning on leaving the major arms control agreement, which allows the signatories to fly unarmed observation flights over each other to prevent miscalculations that could escalate to war. The New York Times first reported the news.

Some defense experts have argued that Russia's violations of the treaty allow its government to have an advantage over the U.S. In 2019, the State Department concluded that Russia was in continued “violation of the Treaty on Open Skies.” 

Some, like Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonThe Memo: Trump lags in polls as crises press Overnight Defense: Esper, Milley part of 'command center' for response to protests over George Floyd killing | Several West Point cadets test positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump commencement speech | UN report says Taliban, al Qaeda not breaking ties The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Delaney says Trump is spewing venom when he should be leading; Protests roil the nation as fears of new virus outbreaks grow MORE (R-Ark.), who has opposed the treaty, applauded Trump for the upcoming withdrawal.

But the president and his decision sparked quick bipartisan criticism, with some saying the treaty allows the U.S. to support its allies and have access to unclassified images. Republicans, especially ones representing Nebraska, where the military planes used to conduct the flights are based, have expressed support for the treaty.