Michael Hayden Admits That He Can't Prove Stories Revealing NSA Snooping Have Harmed National Security

from the oh-now-he-tells-us dept

With all of the focus on the Snowden revelations from the past few months, it’s put new attention on the big story from 2005, in which the NY Times revealed President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, run by then NSA boss Michael Hayden. The NYT story, famously, was held for thirteen months as the government tried to do everything to block it from being published — especially during the 2004 election season. The claims were always the same: publishing the story would be a massive threat to national security — just like you hear today with the Snowden revelations. The NY Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, decided to revisit that decision to delay the publication for over a year with various parties involved in the decision, and see how they feel about it now. There are a few interesting tidbits, but the one that struck me most is actually buried in a parenthetical. It’s Michael Hayden admitting that, despite all his whining about the harm of revealing this stuff, there’s no evidence it actually did any harm:

And even Mr. Hayden told me that he can’t prove any harm to national security from the publication of the eavesdropping stories — then or now.

The “then or now” seems rather important. First of all, with the older story, nearly a decade forward and no proof of harm? That seems rather revealing, since they insisted so strongly that publication would be horrific and would ruin their chances to spy on people (sound familiar?) Furthermore, he’s now admitting that he can’t prove harm from the recent stories either — even though he seems to have no trouble going around fear mongering, claiming such damage has been done, at every other opportunity.

The article claims that the NY Times learned its lesson from this, and that it’s much less inclined to take the government’s word on claims that publishing a story will cause national security harm anymore.

“I think our story broke the fever,” Mr. Risen said. “We’re much better now” about pushing back against government pressure. Jill Abramson, the executive editor (then managing editor), has not only defended the Snowden-related stories as squarely in the public interest but has had Times reporters and editors collaborating with The Guardian and ProPublica on Snowden-sourced stories.

Hopefully, that remains true. It’s easy for the government to fear monger over these things, but every time they do, it’s difficult to think of a single example where the claims of harm on our national security have ever been accurate.

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Comments on “Michael Hayden Admits That He Can't Prove Stories Revealing NSA Snooping Have Harmed National Security”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Not able to prove harm... huh?

THAT seems strangely familiar. Wasn’t it the ACLU that was denied standing for their case based on the fact that they could not prove that they were harmed by the government? If the courts are going to agree with that arguement then they should have to be able to prove harm in order to have standing to bring charges against Snowden under the Espionage Act.

out_of_the_blue says:

Actually, this is repairing credibility of the NY Times.

We?re much better now? just doesn’t cut it when you were such fools for so long before. Don’t believe NYT for a second: they’re THE Establishment voice.

Similarly… For all the fear-mongering Mike does about, oh, say, the chilling effect on free speech of a web-site sued for defamation because some legalistic weenie tried to hide behind DMCA Section 230 instead of just take down a damn post as should have under common law, where’s the proof of harm? — I could go on. Point is, you kids just go for a certain pitch of fear-mongering, such as worry that soon you won’t be able to get infringed content for free…

The fears that Mike presents here on his little blog just never include major ones: the Federal Reserve printing $85 billion a month to give international bankers, Wall Street getting tax money to make good on highly leveraged gambles, or mega-corporations spying on us 24/7…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Actually, this is repairing credibility of the NY Times.

I think that you are right, and we should all go to your blog to read about these issues that are so important.

Can you give me the link to your site where I can read all about it?

Please do not give me a link to anyones elses site, I want to read all about what you think of the state of the country, the EVIL Google and the corruption caused by the rich.

I am interested in reading about the solutions that your unique intellect provides for fixing all of the woes caused by corporations.

DP says:

Re: Actually, this is repairing credibility of the NY Times.

That cretin, OOTB, always has to try and go off-topic and start rattling on about copyright, pirating, etc; which have nothing to do with the subject in hand. Try and get that paranoia seen to ASAP. Makes you look as if you have even less of a brain then you probably actually have.

Ronny (profile) says:

Fixing the problem

In the end we need to face the problem of how to fix the mess, we obviously can’t trust “them” to fix it themselves, who could trust them. Maybe “Anonymous” would like the job, EJS and other whistleblowers could probably do it. They could also collect evidence of criminal activity within those department, and of collaborating business’s, Esp business’s that are part n parcel of the benefits. These people need to be hit hard with prosecution (minus the free pardons)

Anonymous Coward says:

You cant prove a negative

Its the old TD trick again, with the usual “if you cant prove it, then it did not happen”

it’s just like Lisa Simpson’s rock, prove that the rock does not keep lions away. Or prove that it does !!.

I don’t see any lions !! Do you ?

You cant prove a negative, yes there are no lions, but can you PROVE its because of the rock ?

Sorry if this is a bit too cerebral for you people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You cant prove a negative

No it is failure to prove a positive which is much different. We can prove that the NSA failed to prevent the Boston Bombing.

Maybe you’re projecting. The tiger rock describes “Homeland Security” agencies way better. Case in point, the TSA claiming their molestation has made people safer.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You cant prove a negative

Ah but you see, I picked up a neat rock shortly after 9/11, and since I’ve had that rock no more terrorist attacks of the 9/11 scope have occurred, therefor obviously the rock stops terrorists!

As for the TSA’s ‘effectiveness’, again, I point you to my terrorist deterring rock as the real cause, though reenforced cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers would tear a would-be hijacker to pieces might have something to do with the lack of plane hijackings.

Heck, it wasn’t too long ago that there was an article talking about an accidental leak by the TSA, where even they admitted that they didn’t consider terrorists a serious threat.

The point being, whether talking about my ‘magic’ rock, or the TSA/NSA’s actions, both arguments are failures of logic, unless you can prove that a particular set of actions are responsible for something, then at most you can guess that it might have had an affect, though you wouldn’t be able to know or say to what degree.

I also have yet to be attacked by a tiger since I picked up the rock, so obviously it repels them too.

Anonymous Coward says:

exactly the same claims as being made in the UK by the 3 agencies involved. still no proof given and still no ease back on what they are doing. i read where LinkedIn and Slahdot have been used as tools for GCHQ spying. so, even after two ‘official investigations’, the denials of the services carry more weight than proof of what they have been doing, underhandedly and the effects they have been having

Anonymous Coward says:

Munufactured News

Sounds like we’re overdue for another tax-payer funded false flag operation to help “prove” that we really really need to prevent whistleblowing at all costs… like a fake report of US or British agents being outed – and maybe even add that one or more were killed – in a foreign land due to the revelations of Snowden… yep that’d do it.

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