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Former CIA/NSA Boss Michael Hayden Admits Ed Snowden Was A Whistleblower

from the freudian-slip? dept

Ever since Snowden first leaked the documents he took from the NSA, there’s been a (somewhat ridiculous) debate over whether or not he was a “whistleblower” or “a traitor” (or potentially somewhere in between). However, it seems like many fall into one of those somewhat polar opposite positions. To many of us, it’s been quite clear that he’s a whistleblower. However, to folks like former NSA and CIA boss Michael Hayden, the view has been somewhat different. After all, Hayden has directly called Snowden a traitor, claimed that he was worse than a variety of spies (including the Rosenbergs, Klaus Fuchs, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen), and publicly fantasized about killing Snowden.

So it seems at least somewhat noteworthy that, in a moment of what appears to be accidental honesty, Hayden admitted that Snowden was really a whistleblower (spotted by Snowden legal advisor Jesselyn Radack).

The video above should start at about 21 minutes and 50 seconds. It’s of a panel at the Aspen Security conference, and Hayden clearly states:

“When Snowden blew the whistle on the 215 program… that’s the metadata stuff, the phone bills up at Ft. Meade….”

Of course, he goes on to insist that the program was clearly perfectly legal based on all of the supposed “oversight.” He conveniently leaves out the fact that many of the details of the program were not actually known by those who did the approving. For example, he leaves out that the FISA Court’s approvals did not involve a full judicial analysis of the program until after the Snowden revelations (7 years after the program started), and that the original approval was based on a twisted interpretation of an approval of a very different program. He leaves out that the approval in Congress was done with most of Congress not being told how broad the program was and that it captured phone records on just about every phone call. He leaves out that the evidence of abuse of the program or the lack of a working audit system to prevent abuse weren’t widely known.

But, still, he does appear to be admitting that Snowden was, in fact, a whistleblower. Even if it’s something of a Freudian slip, it’s still telling. Furthermore, at the end of his statement, he does further admit that even those approvals across the branches of government is viewed by many in the public as “consent of the governors, not consent of the governed” and seems to at least acknowledge that this is a legitimate concern. I doubt we’ll see Hayden coming around to the views of many of us concerning the gross abuses by the intelligence community (many of which happened under his watch), but these do seems like baby steps in the right direction.

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Comments on “Former CIA/NSA Boss Michael Hayden Admits Ed Snowden Was A Whistleblower”

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David says:

So what?

That’s Michael Hayden we are talking about, the one who has no problems believing as many as six conflicting things before breakfast.

He will readily believe that Edward Snowden is a traitor, a whistleblower, a vampire, a toadstool and a quarterhorse at the same time without blinking if you tell him national security and the Spanish Inquisition depend on it.

AJ says:

Flag Down!

By definition, doesn’t “blowing the whistle” indicate a foul? As in someone did something wrong? So if he’s admitting they are “doing something wrong” and that Snowden “Blew the whistle” why the hell don’t they stop doing it? Seems to me they are blatantly telling us that they know what they are doing is wrong, but they don’t care. Their hubris is insulting, and will eventually be their downfall.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Flag Down!

I’m a sucker for learning the origins of common phrases. This is a moderately interesting one, and the meaning of it is somewhat unclear.

The first recorded usage of “blowing the whistle” to mean denouncing illegal or wasteful practices by public servants comes from P.G. Wodehouse in his 1934’s “Right Ho, Jeeves”:

Now that the whistle had been blown on his speech, it seemed to me that there was no longer any need for the strategic retreat which I had been planning.

Raymond Chandler also used it in 1954’s “The Long Goodbye”.

It is unclear if the term refers to the blowing of a referee’s whistle or the blowing of a policeman’s whistle.

beltorak (profile) says:

well, well, well….

looks like ol’ mike’s guilty conscience is getting the best of him. first he gives us “we kill people based on metadata”, and now “when Snowden blew the whistle”… yeah, likely those are freudian slips, but those are the things we should pay most attention to, before the rationalizing criminal mind has a chance to wave it all away in a puff of sophistry….

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This is a great example of taking something said in one way, and trying to stretch it to mean something else.

“blowing the whistle” is just a phrase. He could have said “wave a red flag”. Would that have made him a bullfighter?

It shows that with careful, thoughtful, and perhaps intentional misunderstanding, you can build almost any truth you like. Just ask Alex Jones or Fox “news”.

Donglebert The Needlessly Unready says:

Re: Re: Re:

The only stretching that’s obvious here is that people are trying to interpret that someone “blowing the whistle” is not a “whistleblower”. That’s purely and simply rubbish.

What you believe “blowing the whistle” to signify in itself is irrelevant. That a whistle was blown by a whistleblower is fact. Therefore Snowdown is here being called a whistleblower.

And no, “blowing the whistle” doesn’t inherently indicate foul. What it does indicate is STOP.

In the same way, the idiom “waving a red flag” has nothing to do with bullfighting. It’s got everything to do with semaphore, where a red flag means STOP.

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