Says Americans have no right to know what the NSA is doing

Steve Watson
Nov 12, 2013

In a debate with one of the leading reporters to have been involved in the Edward Snowden leaks, former NSA head Michael Hayden argued, ridiculously, that government secrecy is akin to an individual’s private privacy, and so the American public should not be privy to the actions of the NSA.

Hayden was debating Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, blogger and best selling author Barton Gellman at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University in an event titled “Leakers or Whistleblowers? National Security Reporting in the Digital Age”.

The full debate is below:

When Gellman began to question Hayden’s assertions, calling them misleading, Hayden became noticeably uncomfortable and even angry, at one point shouting over the top of Barton.

In an egregious claim, Hayden stated:

“There are necessary secrets. Our society recognizes privacy or secrecy for a variety of institutions. We do priest/penitent. We do lawyer/client. We do husband/wife. I mean, we recognize that for the greater good, some things need to be kept out of the public domain. Those are more in the sense of personal privacy. But privacy to an individual is what secrecy is to a state. Both are necessary and both can be abused. Fully aware, alright, that both can be abused.”

Essentially, Hayden is claiming that the inalienable right of an individual to privacy, guaranteed to him or her under the Constitution, can be extended to government agencies, including the NSA – a patently absurd claim, particularly if the government is using secrecy as a cover for potentially illegal activity.

Hayden also renewed his personal hate campaign against Edward Snowden, claiming that Snowden accepted a role at the NSA with a “preconceived notion” that the agency was doing wrong and that he must expose it, rather than because he “discovered something which offended him.”

“The agencies weren’t doing anything illegal. They weren’t doing anything unconstitutional. They were just doing things that offended him.” Hayden stated.

Hayden has previously made this claim several times without backing it up, going as far as floating a conspiracy theory that Snowden was likely engaged in a “sustained, long-term campaign” to take information from the NSA, with the contractor moving from job to job to gain more access.

Meanwhile, back in reality, all public profiles of Snowden suggest that the exact opposite is true, that he was simply a patriot working for the government who discovered the NSA was engaged in a mass spying campaign against Americans.

Gellman, a former Washington Post reporter, was one of the only journalists to have had initial access to Snowden’s material, along with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. He led the revelations on the NSA’s mass spying program known as PRISM.

Hayden referred to Gellman’s actions as “the most destructive” in the whole affair, saying that the information was directly useful to terrorists targeting America.

“Many legitimate intelligence targets — we learned two days ago that Yahoo and Google are… WERE the internet providers of choice for terrorists world wide.”

Hmmm, okaaay. Al Qaeda uses Yahoo email. Really? And even if it does, good, that means they should be easily monitored.

Close to an hour into the debate Hayden lost it completely and began shouting at Gellman, stating “This was the most productive source of communications intelligence that NSA had. Your privacy was not involved — other than the fact that you use Google or Yahoo. But your emails, your accounts, were not the ones being accessed.”

When Gellman attempted to interject, Hayden bawled “No no. I chose my word… NO!!! I chose my words carefully. YOUR ACCOUNTS were not being accessed.”

In his response, Gellman noted that the NSA collects tens of millions of communications including those of innocent Americans and it is not the place of the NSA to assume that Americans should be happy with this, or that it should be kept secret.

As we have previously noted, Hayden has publicly declared that he would love to see Snowden placed on a US government kill list.

Hayden has previously made it known that he believes Snowden to be worse than any American “traitor” ever, including Benedict Arnold, for blowing the whistle on government spying. He has said that he does not see Snowden as a whistleblower because he has not “exposed any wrongdoing” by government.

Hayden has also described the former NSA contractor as a “morally arrogant defector” who will likely become an alcoholic.

Of course, it was Hayden who was overseeing warrantless wiretapping programs during his tenure at the NSA. He was the one in charge of spying on millions of Americans’ communications, relying on a truly twisted version of the law under the PATRIOT Act as cover for his actions.

Hayden was also the man who seriously argued that there was no mention of “probable cause” in the Fourth Amendment, insisting that only ‘reasonable search and seizure’ was required in violating the privacy of Americans.

Sorry, who is the “morally arrogant traitor” again?

h/t: Techdirt 


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

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