“I actually think for the continued success, the continuation of these programs, the government and NSA are just going to have to be a bit more transparent, not just with Congress, where I think they actually have gotten pretty good marks, but with the American people,” Hayden told MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe.”
Hayden’s remarks follow a decision Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruling the NSA’s mass collection of phone records of American citizens unconstitutional. The judge put his decision on hold pending a ruling by a higher court, should there be an appeal.
Hayden, who also directed the Central Intelligence Agency, maintained the judge might not have been privy to as much information as previous rulings by FISA judges who deemed the program as constitutional. He admitted the newest ruling “is what it is.”
“It’s a limited ruling, applies only to the plaintiffs, and that itself was stayed by Judge Leon,” Hayden said.
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Hayden was director of the NSA from 1999 to 2005. His time in office included 9/11. He then went on to be Director of National Intelligence under President George W. Bush and CIA director from 2006-2009.
David Axelrod, former adviser to President Barack Obama, told “Morning Joe” that when he was working in the White House, there were instances where the data collection thwarted potential catastrophic events. He said he believes the president will come forward to address the issue with the American people.
“I think that when (Obama) . . . brings his reforms forward, he’s going to have to speak to the American people in some detail about these programs, about the necessity of these programs, and about how they can be changed and altered and reformed to give people greater confidence,” Axelrod said.
Hayden said there are current NSA employees who may feel uncomfortable with some of the actions of the federal government. He wanted to assure people the employees aren’t “alien bodies out there at Fort Meade doing this program. They are Americans.”
“I would ask the American people, don’t view this as them versus us. I would ask them to become knowledgeable about the specifics of the program,” he said.
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By Wanda Carruthers