Ex-CIA Chief Jack Ryan Is A HERO To Our Spies

10/5/2013 12:35 AM PDT

The former CIA Chief tells TMZ ... Jack Ryan -- the make-believe character in Tom Clancy's novels -- was the inspiration for many of his agents.

We spied former CIA Director Michael Hayden on the streets of DC Friday morning ... and he told us how  Clancy -- who died Tuesday -- had a profound impact on America's spook department.

Of course, Hayden has the skills of a master spy ... so who knows if he can be believed....