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.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Michael, 28 Jul 2014 @ 9:07am

    "When Snowden blew the whistle on the 215 program... that's the metadata stuff, the phone bills up at Ft. Meade...."

    Since Hayden said it, we know it's not true.

    Crap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    AricTheRed (profile), 28 Jul 2014 @ 9:07am

    What's he gonna do now?

    Looks like Hayden is going to have to move to Russia and be Eds' roomie, that or when he is charged by the Obama administrations DOJ with giving material support to a known traitor, plead temporary SANITY.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    justok (profile), 28 Jul 2014 @ 9:10am

    For all their expertise, NSA can't tap a simple whistle?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 28 Jul 2014 @ 9:12am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AJ, 28 Jul 2014 @ 9:22am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2014 @ 10:03am

      Re: Flag Down!

      "By definition, doesn't "blowing the whistle" indicate a foul?"

      In even more generic terms, a whistle is used to call attention to or indicate something. It doesn't necessarily need to be something wrong, however that is the typical use.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 29 Jul 2014 @ 9:53am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    scotts13 (profile), 28 Jul 2014 @ 9:39am

    Just a turn of the phrase

    I suspect one can use the vernacular "blow the whistle" to refer to someone's actions without conferring the apparently now-critical official appellation "Whistle Blower."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 28 Jul 2014 @ 9:46am

      Re: Just a turn of the phrase

      Sure you can say that someone who "blew the whistle" is not a "whistleblower". Also, someone who "sucked a c***" is not necessarily a "c***sucker", someone who "ate a bowl of d***s" is not a "d***eater".

      However, when you do say something like this, you are clearly full of s***.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, 28 Jul 2014 @ 10:19am

    URL error

    The video embed has a question mark escaped one extra time in its URL, which makes it not work. "//www.youtube.com/embed/rgHjMed1ZL8start=1311" should be "//www.youtube.com/embed/rgHjMed1ZL8?start=1311" in the page source for this article.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    beltorak (profile), 28 Jul 2014 @ 10:21am

    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....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Whatever (profile), 28 Jul 2014 @ 11:55pm

      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".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        athe, 30 Jul 2014 @ 12:07am

        Re: Re:

        It shows that with careful, thoughtful, and perhaps intentional misunderstanding, you can build almost any truth you like.

        Why not - it's what the NSA (and its ilk) do...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Donglebert The Needlessly Unready, 30 Jul 2014 @ 3:42am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2014 @ 10:51am

    To the Government, whistleblower is to traitor as infringement is to theft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2014 @ 11:14am

    start your statement with a bit of truth...

    and end it in an untruth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.