“They would believe that this kind of behavior could actually be politically negotiated away, and that would be a very disturbing message for the people who provide America with intelligence.”
Eliana Johnson writes: The intelligence community would see the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard as a signal of the administration’s willingness grant clemency to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, according to former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden. “They would believe that this kind of behavior could actually be politically negotiated away, and that would be a very disturbing message for the people who provide America with intelligence,” he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday.
“It’s almost a sign of desperation that you would throw this into the pot just to keep the Israelis talking with the Palestinians.”
Gary Schmitt writes: Thankfully, President Obama is not a doctor. If he was and you happened to visit him in his office and mentioned that you were worried about the potential for lung cancer, he’d immediately put you under, open you up, and pull out a lung—or, at least, that’s the logic that seems to be guiding his decisions on NSA’s collection programs. Yes, no one has found any evidence that NSA has broken the law, invaded constitutionally-protected privacy rights, or is about to. But never mind, it’s the very possibility that someday, somehow, NSA will jump the tracks that requires the president now to unduly complicate the use of what he admits has been an important counterterrorism tool.
Catherine Herridge reports: The evidence surrounding the case of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggests he did not act alone when he downloaded some 200,000 documents, according to the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee.
“We know he did some things capability-wise that was beyond his capabilities. Which means he used someone else’s help to try and steal things from the United States, the people of the United States. Classified information, information we use to keep America safe,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told Fox News.
Rogers, who receives regular briefings and has access to classified information about the Snowden investigation, says there are questions about the former contractor’s time in Hong Kong, and his alleged contact with a third party.
“There was some activity there in China about who he talked to and what was the purpose of his visit there, how was it arranged, how did he arrange a visa so quickly to Russia? Those kinds of questions have not been answered in a satisfactory way.”
Eliana Johnson reports: Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, told CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Sunday that the counterintelligence measures recently unveiled by national-security leaker Edward Snowden were unexceptional. Though he said it’s conceivable the president may not have been aware of specific measures, he indicated that “leadership intentions were a very high intelligence priority.”
“It’s impossible for me to imagine that the NSC, the administration, the White House, didn’t know,” Hayden said, “and the fact that they didn’t rush in to tell the president this was going on, points out what I think is a fundamental fact: This wasn’t exceptional, this is what we were expected to do.”
By Michael Hirsh
Some of America’s biggest social media and tech companies have been denying in recent days that they were aware of the National Security Agency’s recently-exposed “PRISM” and telephone monitoring programs. But these denials obscure a larger truth: The government’s massive data collection and surveillance system was largely built not by professional spies or Washington bureaucrats but by Silicon Valley and private defense contractors.
So says Michael V. Hayden, the retired Air Force general who as director of the NSA from 1999 to 2006 was a primary mover behind the agency’s rebirth from Cold War dinosaur into a post-9/11 terror-detection leviathan with sometimes frightening technical and legal powers.
After many false starts, that transformation was achieved largely by drafting private-sector companies that had far more technical know-how than did the NSA, and contracting with them to set up and administer the technical aspects of these surveillance programs, Hayden told National Journalin an interview Sunday.
“There isn’t a phone or computer at Fort Meade [NSA headquarters] that the government owns” today, he says.
That doesn’t quite square with the popular image of the NSA as a shadowy confection of Big Brother and Big Government. Nor with the description of PRISM as merely “an internal government computer system,” as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called it over the weekend.
Among these contributing companies reportedly is Palantir Technologies, the Palo Alto, Calif., company that several news outlets have identified as a close associate of the NSA’s. Another is Eagle Alliance, a joint venture of Computer Sciences Corp. and Northrup Grumman that runs the NSA’s IT program and describes itself on its website as “the Intelligence Community’s premier Information Technology Managed Services provider.” (“We made them part of the team,” says Hayden.) Another is Booz Allen Hamilton, the international consultancy for which the reported whistleblower in the NSA stories, contractor Edward Snowden, began working three months ago. In 2002, Booz Allen Hamilton won a $63 million contract for an early and controversial version of the current data-mining program, called Total Information Awareness, which was later cancelled after congressional Democrats raised questions about invasion of privacy in the early 2000s. The firm’s current vice-chairman, Mike McConnell, was DNI in the George W. Bush administration and, before that, director of the NSA. Clapper is also a former Booz Allen executive.
In its outreach to private industry, the NSA occasionally overreached. The most notorious example was the $1.2 billion “Trailblazer” program developed in the early-to-mid-2000s by SAIC and other companies, which led to the notorious attempted prosecution of another whistleblower, an NSA career employee, who sought to expose the program as a wasteful failure. “One of the things we tried to do with Trailblazer was to hire out a solution to our problems,” Hayden says. “It was kind of a moonshot.”