Former NSA chief Michael Hayden, who ran the shady US spying bureaucracy from 1999 to 2009, responded to a question about Edward Snowden by painting privacy activists as terrorists and comparing them to al Qaida.
“If and when our government grabs Edward Snowden, and brings him back here to the United States for trial, what does this group do?” Hayden asked, reffering to “nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years”.
He continued: “They may want to come after the US government, but frankly, you know, the dot-mil stuff is about the hardest target in the United States”.
‘Dot mil’ is American jargon for its military networks.
“So if they can’t create great harm to dot-mil, who are they going after?” Hayden said, according to the Guardian. “Who for them are the World Trade Centers? The World Trade Centers, as they were for al-Qaida”.
Hayden was in charge of the NSA when it began its unprecedented surveillance operation. He also ran the CIA. He conclude that the situation he outlined was speculation and “imaginative”, but also that Snowden “has created quite a stir among these folks who are very committed to transparency and global transparency”.
Big Brother Watch, the British privacy rights group, responded. Speaking with TechEye, its director, Nick Pickles, said: “Given the testimony given under oath about what the NSA was doing, it is understandable that Hayden may be showing signs of nerves, as Edward Snowden’s disclosures blow apart assurances that there was no surveillance of American citizens.
“Perhaps if Mr Hayden had spent more time trying to recruit the people he now so gleefully traduces and compares to terrorists it wouldn’t have been possible to walk out of a high-security facility with so much classified information on a USB stick,” Pickles continued.
“More Americans now think that security measures have gone too far than think we need more surveillance,” he said. “If we are to have a sensible debate about what is necessary and proportionate to keep us safe in the modern communications age, we need to start by stopping the utterly ridiculous pastime of some securocrats to brand anyone who disagrees with them a terrorist.”