Michael Hayden Thinks Snowden Revelations, Rather Than NSA Actions, May Splinter The Internet
from the yeah,-perhaps-you-shouldn't-have-done-the-spying-in-the-first-place dept
SPIEGEL: General Hayden, let's speak about the future of the Internet. Are you concerned?Of course, that is the purest form of "blaming the messenger" as you might find. The whole line about how the internet "reflects free people, free ideas and free trade" would be a lot stronger of a point if the NSA hadn't undermined basically all of that with its spying activity. The problem isn't that Snowden revealed all that. It's that the NSA was doing everything it was doing in the first place. If doing these things undermine the idea that the internet is about "free people, free ideas and free trade," perhaps it shouldn't have been doing them. To blame Snowden for that seems... ridiculous.
Hayden: I am very concerned. This may be the single greatest, most destructive effect from the last 10 months of what Mr. Snowden has revealed. The Internet was begun in the United States and it is based on American technology, but it's a global activity. We in the United States feel it reflects free people, free ideas and free trade. There are countries that do not want the Internet as we know it. Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia. The Snowden revelations will now allow them to argue that we Americans want to keep a single, unitary Internet, because it just helps us spy. My fear is that the disclosures may have set a motion in progress that ends up really threatening the Internet as we know it.
SPIEGEL: It is not only the Russians and Chinese who use this argument, but also Americans like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He recently described the US government as a threat to the Internet.Hayden is pretending that it's the Russians and the Chinese who kicked this off and made such statements. It is not. It was American technologists and entrepreneurs who recognize that when the NSA undermines their own products and purposely weakens key encryption standards that, yes, the NSA itself is a threat. Sure, the Russians and the Chinese have their own motives for slamming the US, but that's just Hayden trying to misdirect attention. The idea that Americans shouldn't accurately state that the NSA is a threat to the internet is bullshit. For someone who -- just seconds earlier -- was talking about our "freedoms" to then try to stifle Americans speaking out against the NSA by arguing that to do so "helps the enemy" is a level of depressing irony that only someone as tone deaf as Hayden can pull off.
Hayden: The more people like him say that, the more it indirectly strengthens these other arguments. The Russians and the Chinese aren't saying this to protect themselves against alleged American espionage. They are saying this because they don't like the Internet's freedom of speech. Their goal is to divide the Internet up into national domains and create barriers in cyberspace. That's the last thing Zuckerberg would want to have happen.
SPIEGEL: On the one hand, the United States promotes the Internet as a tool of freedom. On the other hand, it now appears to many people to be a tool of surveillance.Ha! Right after telling Zuckerberg and other good Americans to shut the hell up or it's helping our the Chinese and the Russians, he now says that he's willing to have a discussion about what the US has done? Really? Then there's the nice strawman, in which he pretends that what people are upset about is spying on what websites Americans visit (ignoring that he's talking to a German publication). He conveniently says nothing about tracking what non-Americans visit, nor the fact that it's not the website tracking that has people concerned, but rather hacking into various websites, tracking all kinds of confidential information.
Hayden: I am quite willing to have a discussion about what my country has or has not done, but it has to be based on facts. Let me first point out that the NSA doesn't monitor what every American is doing on the Internet. The NSA doesn't check who goes to what websites. But you've got these beliefs out there now.
SPIEGEL: It has been almost a year since Snowden left Hawaii. What has he changed?More bogus misdirection from Hayden. Schmidt and Zuckerberg are not upset about the situations in which they complied with lawful requests. They're upset about hacking into datacenters without permission. They're upset about doing "QUANTUM" inserts via bogus Facebook attacks. They're upset about weakening basic encryption. None of that has to do with lawful requests.
Hayden: There are three or four effects. We do this, like other countries, for legitimate reasons, and it's harder to do this now with what has been made public, legitimate intelligence targets. It has become harder for American services to cooperate with friendly services with common goals. What foreign service would want to cooperate with us, given our absolute seeming inability to keep anything secret? And then it really harmed American industry, and that's why you have the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world and the Eric Schmidts of the world expressing great outrage. They aren't doing anything for the American government that other companies do not do for their host governments when they receive a lawful request, but they've been singled out, and they have been unfairly harmed by this. And finally, it has poisoned relationships between people who really are friends.
And, where they are upset about lawful requests, it's because of the NSA's bogus secrecy in which it refuses to let these tech companies show how many users are impacted. Once again, the problem there is the over-secrecy on the part of the NSA.
Finally, the idea that others are upset with the US because it "can't keep stuff secret" is equally bogus. No one has complained about that one bit. The Snowden leaks happened. No one seems to think that makes the next leak any more or less likely. Hayden is just, once again, trying to pin the blame of the NSA's own overreach back on Snowden.
SPIEGEL: The Germans are more sensitive when it comes to the issue of surveillance.In which Hayden more or less admits that he thinks the First Amendment is important, but the Fourth? Not so much.
Hayden: I confess that we Americans underappreciated the impact of that not just on the chancellor but on the German population, and I mean this sincerely. Perhaps we underestimated the depth of feelings that the German people -- and again, not just the chancellor, but the German people, felt about this question of privacy, given their historical circumstances compared to our historical circumstances. At the Munich Security Conference it was clear to me that Germans regard privacy the way we Americans might regard freedom of speech or religion. Perhaps we did not appreciate that enough.
SPIEGEL: Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA is conducting similar operations against China. They monitor the head of state of China. They monitored a couple of universities. NSA is breaking into some Chinese companies. Isn't it hypocritical to complain and yet do similar things?Note that he never explains why "industrial espionage" is so bad, while plain old espionage is fine. And, the evidence from the Huawei effort certainly suggested that the US was, in effect, doing industrial espionage anyway.
Hayden: It's only hypocritical if you had a peculiar and inaccurate way of looking at it at the beginning, and I have been quite public. I'd say, "Look, we spy. We're really good at it." There are two differences between us and the Chinese. We're actually more sophisticated, and we're self-limited. We don't do industrial espionage. I never claimed the moral high ground, you seem to be suggesting that we didn't spy. Let me play a joke on myself. I say, you know, if I had to talk to the Chinese about it, I'd go to Beijing, and I'd sit across the table, which I have done, and I would begin the conversation, "Look, you spy, we spy, but you steal the wrong stuff."
SPIEGEL: Give us a prediction about Snowden's future.Hayden still doesn't get it (or is purposely misleading). No one thinks Snowden should get clemency because he took "a whole bunch of stuff," but because he helped reveal a ton of very questionable activities by the US government, much of which may be unconstitutional and illegal. And that's the kind of thing that we should be encouraging, because as government employees, people take an oath to uphold the Constitution. That means when they see the government doing unconstitutional things, they should blow the whistle.
Hayden: I don't know. I think he asked for an extension of his visa. I think they will just kind of toss the ball up and keep juggling it for another year to see what happens.
SPIEGEL: Wouldn't it be better to bring him home...
Hayden: ... absolutely ...
SPIEGEL: ... and grant him clemency?
Hayden: No. God, no. No. No. This is the single greatest hemorrhaging of legitimate American secrets in the history of this country. It is incredibly damaging, and if we give him some sort of clemency or amnesty, all we're doing is teaching the next Edward Snowden that if you do this, make sure you steal a whole bunch of stuff.Edward Snowden has given this data to all these other folks. Glenn Greenwald has got it. Laura Poitras has got it. Bart Gellman has got it. DER SPIEGEL apparently has it. I mean, this stuff is coming out beyond the control of Edward Snowden.
Michael Hayden may not like that -- especially as some of the revelations appear to implicate him and the decisions he made personally. But his answers here are flat out ridiculous, and they don't make Hayden look good. They make him look petty and vindictive, attacking a whistleblower who has exposed a bunch of things that Hayden helped set in motion. There's a lot more in the interview (including a lot of talk about spying on Germans), but these snippets here give you a sense of how Hayden approached this particular interview.