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Ex-CIA Chief Defends Tweet Comparing Trump Border Policy to Nazi Concentration Camps

Former National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden listens during a Reuters CyberSecurity Summit in Washington, May 12, 2014. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Former CIA director Michael Hayden defended Monday his comparison of the Trump administration’s immigration-enforcement policy to the treatment of concentration-camp prisoners in Nazi Germany.

Hayden, who tweeted a picture of the Auschwitz concentration camp Saturday with the caption “other governments have separated mothers and children,” said during a Monday appearance on CNN’s New Day that he made the incendiary comparison because “he wanted to grab people’s attention.”

“This seemed to be a very important matter to my mind. I didn’t choose that picture at random, I’ve been to that camp, actually several times,” Hayden said. “I’ve walked down that railroad siding where the families were separated and that’s why I used that picture. That’s the scene where families were separated.”

“Now look, I know we’re not Nazi Germany,” Hayden conceded. “But there is a commonality there and a fear on my part that we have standards we have to live up to.”

“I was trying to point out we need be careful we don’t move in that direction.” he concluded.

Hayden’s tweet referenced the Trump administration’s recently implemented “zero tolerance” immigration-enforcement policy, which holds that all adults caught crossing the border illegally will be detained and prosecuted, and, if they are accompanied by a child, separated from the child while they await trial.

The policy has prompted harsh backlash from congressional Democrats who have attacked the administration as immoral after visiting the detained children at holding centers on the southern border. The outcry has also prompted a rift within the GOP as a number of lawmakers, including Senator Susan Collins of Maine, have spoken out against it while the vast majority remain silent on the issue.

Former first lady Laura Bush called the policy “cruel” and “immoral” in a Washington Post op-ed published Sunday.

“I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” she wrote

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