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Stephen F. Hayes (born 1974) is a columnist for The Weekly Standard, a prominent American conservative magazine. Hayes has been selected as the official biographer for Vice President Richard Cheney.
Before joining The Weekly Standard, Hayes was a senior writer for National Journal's Hotline. He also served for six years as Director of the Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown University. His work has appeared in the New York Post, Washington Times, Salon.com, National Review, and Reason. He has been a commentator on CNN, The McLaughlin Group, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNBC, and C-SPAN.
A graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and DePauw University, Hayes was born and raised in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee County. He is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He lives on the Chesapeake Bay with his wife and two children.
Hayes has "been a regular critic of the Bush administration" on issues such as overspending and North Korea. He is well known for his writings postulating an operational relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. He wrote, for example, "there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans." Hayes authored a book on this subject entitled: The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein has Endangered America [ISBN 0-06-074673-4]. His major source was a leaked memo from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to the U.S. Congress on 27 October 2003.
In a June 2, 2004 interview with writer Kathryn Jean Lopez, Hayes stated that his book's argument was backed up by a variety of public statements by people connected with the Defense Department, particularly by senior figures in the Democratic Party. He referenced Indiana Senator Evan Bayh's description of Iraq and al Qaeda as in a relationship of "mutual exploitation" and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman's comment that "There are extensive contacts between Saddam Hussein's government and al Qaeda." Hayes told Lopez, "Bin Laden has dissed Saddam several times. And I would certainly never argue that they were buddies. It was an on-again, off-again relationship based... on mutual exploitation and a common enemy." He said that he broadly accepted the Feith report, despite the inclusion of "old" and "raw" pieces of intelligence, because "most of the report tracks with what Tenet has said publicly" (the CIA director George Tenet).
Critics of Hayes such as Salon.com have stated that the intelligence community consistently held that the relationship between Saddam and al-Qaeda was not operational, with Tenet telling 60 Minutes, "We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al-Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period."