Hayden Sees No End In Sight for the NSA


When will the NSA’s powers be restrained? According to the agency’s former director Michael Hayden, not any time in the near future.

Hayden, who spoke on Thursday at a cybersecurity forum hosted by the National Military Family Association, is famously expansive on national security concerns—and sanguine about the NSA’s effectiveness. In an exchange regarding the agency’s “systemic overcollection” of data, Hayden argued that those outraged by the practice probably misunderstand it and likely overestimate the extent of the agency’s transgressions. He also noted that he finds “curious” debates over the transparency of FISA courts, which hold secretive proceedings to evaluate government requests for surveillance. Critics have dismissed the courts as “rubber stamps” for the government, oting that they approve virtually all applications. But the courts dispute the label, defending the approval record by saying that they often require changes before giving the government the OK. Hayden says there’s another reason to like the present system.

“What’s odd about the FISA court?” Hayden asked. “We have it. No other Western democracy puts these questions in front of a court.” I asked if he felt that FISA courts were a privilege. “Yes,” he told me. “It’s an unusual thing already.” Hayden also dismissed skepticism that the NSA..

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