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
And then there's this. Last fall, we wrote about a WSJ op-ed that Hayden co-wrote with former Attorney General Mike Mukasey, completely ripping apart the USA Freedom Act. The headline was:
NSA Reform That Only ISIS Could LoveIt 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.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."
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.
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.