August 12, 2013
WASHINGTON — Former National Security Agency chief Gen. Michael Hayden hinted Sunday at how the NSA’s eavesdropping and data collection program is likely to evolve over time. Critics of the project have warned that by building the capacity to track the electronic communications of all American citizens, the government will inevitably be tempted to employ every tool it has at its disposal and scuttle whatever constitutional safeguards stand in the way. Not to do so eventually would in fact be more surprising, goes the argument.
In an appearance on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Hayden — also the former head of the CIA — unintentionally opened a window into just how that evolution will likely unfold.
Asked by host Bob Schieffer about the president’s proposal for a civil liberties advocate to argue on behalf of the Constitution in the secret court that oversees the NSA, Hayden said that such a setup would be inappropriate for fast-moving investigations. But he did float a hypothetical scenario in which such a safeguard might be appropriate: After an attack, he said, the NSA would want to use the vast store of information it has been collecting in more aggressive ways.
Hayden said that in general he was opposed to a civil liberties advocate’s involvement in the process, and warned that slowing it down would lead to criticism.