Former NSA Boss Claims Terrorists Use Gmail, Anonymity Is Awful And The US Built The Internet, So Of Course It Should Spy On It

from the tone-deaf dept

Michael Hayden is the former NSA and CIA boss, whose claim to fame is that he oversaw the illegal warrantless wiretapping of Americans under President George W. Bush. He’s pretty consistently managed to stick his foot in his mouth concerning everything regarding the latest NSA leaks every time he speaks. He claimed that Ed Snowden was worse than every American revealed spy in history (despite the fact that, unlike actual spies like Benedict Arnold and the Rosenbergs, Snowden focused on informing the public, rather than selling secrets to our enemies). He brushed off Snowden’s supporters as internet shut-ins who can’t get laid. Though, perhaps he should talk to a geek or two, because he doesn’t even understand what data mining means.

His latest is no better. On Sunday he gave a speech where he revealed that (he claims) terrorists love Gmail:

“Gmail is the preferred Internet service provider of terrorists worldwide,” presumably meaning online service rather than the actual provider of Internet service. He added: “I don’t think you’re going to see that in a Google commercial, but it’s free, it’s ubiquitous, so of course it is.”

Of course, if this is true (and seeing as he hasn’t been in the government for a while, I’m not sure how he’d actually know that), it would seem like that statement alone is much worse than anything that Snowden revealed, because General Hayden basically just told every terrorist “don’t use Gmail any more, because we’re on to you.” Of course, from all reports so far of the way that Al Qaeda brass communicates, it appears they learned that lesson since before Gmail existed. It seems highly unlikely that any sophisticated terrorist would be using a service like Gmail, since it’s long been suspected that the US government monitored it anyway.

Hayden didn’t stop there. He also flat out admitted that the US was “militarizing” the internet (though he called it the web), which is another thing that the government has been trying to deny until Hayden just blurted it out.

Hayden also conceded that the United States. “could be fairly charged with the militarization of the World Wide Web.”

Hayden also reveals the rather ridiculous sense of entitlement that the intelligence community has towards snooping on the internet. He argues, effectively, that since the internet rose out of a US government project, then of course it should be able to spy on everything on it.

“We built it here, and it was quintessentially American,” he said, adding that partially due to that, much of traffic goes through American servers where the government “takes a picture of it for intelligence purposes.”

Of course, that totally ignores the status of the internet today, and how much has changed since the old ARPANET days. Also, as the Washington Post notes, having intelligence community officials say ridiculous crap like that is more or less telling the rest of the world (and many Americans) to stop doing business with American internet companies. Is whatever minor intel the NSA picks up really worth losing many billions to the US economy?

And, of course, Hayden once again made it clear that if he had his way, the NSA would be able to track anything and everything, because anonymity is bad.

At one point, Hayden expressed a distaste for online anonymity, saying “The problem I have with the Internet is that it’s anonymous.”

Given that, I’d like to challenge Michael Hayden to release his browser history from the past three months. After all, I’m sure he wouldn’t want anyone to think he’s a hypocrite who surfed the web anonymously, now would he?

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Comments on “Former NSA Boss Claims Terrorists Use Gmail, Anonymity Is Awful And The US Built The Internet, So Of Course It Should Spy On It”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Crazies in high places. Schmidt mistakes gov't and society:

FIRST, clearly the purpose of Hayden is to make a silly claim that stops thought and diverts from the real topic: it’s standard technique. There’s also more than a touch of reversal, as one of NSA’s sources is in fact Gmail.

So I’m just going to show an even sillier claim:

Google’s Eric Schmidt says government spying is ‘the nature of our society’

Schmidt is trying to gain acceptance for Google’s “business model” which is entirely based on spying. But in fact, while gov’t and corporations gain power by spying, that’s at the expense of we “natural” persons — and we don’t have to put up with it.

When you think surveillance or spying or snooping, think Google!

Anonymous Coward says:

News: google bans encrypted com apps

I hadn’t seen this story written anywhere so I thought I’d post it here. I found this last night in the FAQ for Linphone. (which is still available fully functional from Fdroid)

Q: Why SIP/TLS and SRTP are not available in Android and iOS versions available from Google Play and AppStore ?

Due to new restrictions in Google Play and Appstore policy for application submissions, we have been constrained to temporary remove all encryption features from the published applications. Re-enabling them requires getting authorization from US and France government agencies, which might take some time.
However these features are not removed from source code and are enabled by default when building Linphone from source code.

zub says:

Re: News: google bans encrypted com apps

Huh. I tried to find it in the FAQ and it’s not there, at least as of this writing. But googling for “Q: Why SIP/TLS and SRTP are not available in Android and iOS versions available from Google Play and AppStore ?” finds it, so it must have been there.

There’s also

I wonder why has it disappeared/what’s the status…

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:


“Gmail is the preferred Internet service provider of terrorists worldwide,”

This is on its face an outrageous statement. Everybody KNOWS that Al Queda is the principle behind ‘Cat Lovers’ Yahoo Groups feed, and communicate via code in their postings. Chief Al Queda person is known as the ‘Cheshire Cat’, and the US is euphemismized as the ‘Yellow Tabby’ .

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s a pretty good response to any NSA apologist when they try to justify the unconstitutional aspects of their spying on hundreds of millions of people. Monitoring phone calls, breaking encryption, snooping on email, forcing companies to install backdoors or other types of monitoring equipment, whatever other bullshit they come up with.

If they truly feel they should be able to do all of that, that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”, then they should be first to post online all of the data about their private lives for all the world to see.

Until they’re willing to do that, they need to STFU.

Anonymous Coward says:

They keep on doing it

These kind of comments that are CLEARLY so insulting to the intelligence of the American public keep coming out of these dipshits’ mouths over an over again.

Seriously, what kind of bubble does Hayden live in where he thinks it’s acceptable to say things like this?

And to the nice folks at Google who have been willingly cooperating with the government, how does it feel to be the preferred email service of terrorists? How does it feel to get an endorsement like that from the same people you’re cooperating with?

Hayden is a waste of a salary.
And US companies need to grow a set of balls and tell the NSA to piss off.


Internet Zen Master (profile) says:


Edward Snowden gave the NSA documents to reporters that he trusted wouldn’t completely cripple the U.S.’ spying capabilities. What he didn’t take into account was the fact that some ex-government officials don’t know when to shut up.

I have some orders for Gen. Keith Alexander while he sits in his Captain’s Chair aboard the USS Big Data: muzzle your ex-boss before he damages the U.S.’ reputation even further with his rambling.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yah, the terrorist like Gmail so well that the NSA has a name for it. It’s called going dark, where no electronic communications happen to illuminate the targets. So how likely is it that terrorists love Gmail? I’d say not at all and it’s just another lie/coverup attempt by those that think spying on everyone for any reason or no reason at all is acceptable.

Is it any doubt why the American public has suddenly lost all trust in their government given the scandals over the NSA, big finance, whistle blower protections collapsing, a do nothing congress, and corporate welfare gone rampant.

Certainly one of the fall outs of this is the fact that Obama couldn’t get enough support to launch his little war.

Ninja (profile) says:

Given that, I’d like to challenge Michael Hayden to release his browser history from the past three months.

I object. I don’t want to see his porn surfing habits. And don’t give me that puzzled look, we all know the internet is for porn. Which automatically invalidates his claims. Terrorists are obviously all Muslims that can’t view porn due to their Allah commandments so they are obviously not on the internet.

Valis (profile) says:

The solution is simple.

The ninety-six percent of us who live in the free world must isolate the USA from the internet completely. Stop routing ALL traffic through the US. Build new exchanges in Central and South America to route traffic through instead. Once this is done destroy all physical links between the US and the rest of the world. They can then have their little government controlled, censored and monitored intranet while the ninety-six percent of us can enjoy our free, open and secure internet!

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