After Claiming USA Freedom Would Be A Boon To ISIS, Ex-NSA Director Now Mocks How Weak USA Freedom Is
from the funny-how-that-works dept
We’ve written enough about former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden that you should already know to take what he says with a large grain of salt. He will say basically anything to further his argument, no matter how false or disingenuous. He doesn’t appear to care. He’s admitted that September 11th gave him permission to reinterpret the 4th Amendment. He’s claimed that terrorist attacks that weren’t prevented were proof for why the NSA should keep collecting metadata. He lied about whether he and others lied about the CIA’s torture program. He claimed that the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s exec summary of the CIA torture report would be the tipping point for terrorists attacking us (how’d that work out?). He’s argued that no one who thinks Ed Snowden is a whistleblower should be allowed to work in government. He claimed that Senator Feinstein was too emotional about the CIA torture program to judge it effectively. And on and on and on.
NSA Reform That Only ISIS Could Love
It claimed that the USA Freedom Act would “hobble the gathering of electronic intelligence” and predicted gloom and doom as a result:
For starters, the bill ends the National Security Agency?s bulk collection of what is called telephone metadata. This includes the date, time, duration and telephone numbers for all calls, but not their content or the identity of the caller or called, and is information already held by telephone companies. The bill would substitute a cumbersome and untried process that would require the NSA, when it seeks to check on which telephone numbers have called or been called by a number reasonably associated with terrorist activity, to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court, and then scurry to each of the nation?s telephone-service providers to comb through the information that remains in their hands rather than in the NSA?s.
Nothing in the bill requires the telephone companies to preserve the metadata for any prescribed period. Current Federal Communications Commission regulations impose an 18-month retention requirement, but administrative regulations are subject to change. It isn?t hard to envision companies that wish to offer subscribers the attraction of rapid destruction of these records, or a complaisant bureaucracy that lets them do it.
The bill?s imposition of the warrant requirement on the NSA would be more burdensome than what any assistant U.S. attorney must do to get metadata in a routine criminal case, which is simply to aver that the information is needed in connection with a criminal investigation?period.
He points to the rise of ISIS and says that “the last thing” that Congress should be doing is pushing “a major new bill exquisitely crafted to hobble the gathering of electronic intelligence.”
Of course, we all know that was hogwash, but as if to underline that point, let’s see what the very same Michael Hayden has to say after the USA Freedom Act passed and became law. Now, all of a sudden, he thinks the bill is so weak that it’s an opportunity to mock privacy advocates because this was “all” that they could get:
If somebody would come up to me and say ?Look, Hayden, here?s the thing: This Snowden thing is going to be a nightmare for you guys for about two years. And when we get all done with it, what you?re going to be required to do is that little 215 program about American telephony metadata ? and by the way, you can still have access to it, but you got to go to the court and get access to it from the companies, rather than keep it to yourself? ? I go: ?And this is it after two years? Cool!?
He’s actually right about that second point — which is why we’ve been saying repeatedly that USA Freedom needs to only be a starting point for real reform. However, given that Hayden’s position on the bill flipped entirely within a period of eight months, it should emphasize that whenever you see Hayden fearmongering, it’s bullshit. He’s just doing that as a cynical political ploy to help the surveillance state get or keep its surveillance powers.