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TODAY   |  January 17, 2014

Michael Hayden: Snowden ‘misshaped’ security debate

Retired General Michael Hayden, a former director of both the NSA and CIA says whistleblowing by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has severely and irreversibly harmed the security agency’s ability to perform its duties.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> you. let's bring in michael hayden , a former director of both the nsa and cia and now a principal with the group in washington. good morning. thanks for being with us.

>> good morning, savannah.

>> we now know the broad outlines of some of the changes the president is recommending today. do you think this will significantly change the way the nsa does business? or is this largely window dressing in your mind?

>> no, i think it's a little bit more than window dressing . with regard to who holds the data, frankly, no one will hold it, as well, in all dimensions of the word well. it's no surprise the president has punted that question to congress. with regard to querying the data, it appears the president will now demand that the nsa go to the fisa court before they ask the data a question. savannah, i was a director of nsa on september 11th . that procedure reminds me of the way we operated before the september 11th attack . now, that makes me uncomfortable because in addition to this specific thing, it sends a message to the bureaucracy that we're trending back to the old ways of doing business .

>> do you think this policy debate , this conversation has been good and healthy? and honestly, do you think it would have happened if not for the disclosures by edward snowden ?

>> it probably would've happened. there are some powerful tectonic plates moving with regard to overall government transparency. snowden accelerated it. but savannah, snowden also misshaped the debate. there's a recent poll that said 25% of all americans believe nsa listens to their phone calls. and that's a product of what snowden put out there in a sensationalist way and the way it's been reported.

>> we've seen so many disclosures. seems like once a week we're hearing about some new program that the nsa had. do you feel the nsa's playbook has essentially been exposed? and at what cost.

>> this has been serious irreversible harm to the national security agency to collect legitimate foreign intelligence . matt olson the head of the counterterrorism center a few days ago pointed out that terrorists have already changed their communications patterns. look, people around the world now know more about the american intelligence process than they know about their own country's intelligence processes. that's not good for civil liberties or security.

>> former nsa and cia director michael hayden , always good to get your perspective, sir. thanks for being with us.