In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with General Michael V. Hayden about the reality of spying, the difference between the NSA and the CIA, the ethics of secrecy, Edward Snowden, the Russian Hacking of the 2016 US Presidential election, and other topics.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Today I am speaking with General Michael D, Hayden, general heinous
tired, United States AIR Force forced our general
and the only man to have ever run both
an essay and the CIA. He did that sequentially. He is currently a principle of the chair, tough group, a security, consultancy
found by the former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and he's also a professor at George Mason University at their school
but policy government in international affairs, and is the author of the book
lane to the edge American until
agents in the age of terror which is well worth reading.
And this is this was a slightly unusual interview for me in that it was a straight interview.
The general and I had some technical difficulties getting on Skype
was amusing not to be able to get on Skype with the former head of the agenda
say and the CIA ass. We
the conductor interview on face time? All that rang,
and took a little while and his schedules
height. So I had about a half hour for this interview, so
could not be one of my leisurely conversations. It was really just my questions in his answers, but I think you'll find it interesting
Nonetheless, we talk about many things. We talk about the ethics of spine and they trade off between privacy and security
and we get into Edward Snowden and the consequence of his leaks, and I also get dodge
I hadn't opinion about the russian hacking of the. U S election so please enjoy, and now I give you general
I call the hidden.
I'm here with General Michael D, Hayden General thanks for coming on the pike ass. All, thank you very much. Listen! Let us just breathe. I wanna talk to you about your book because it is fascinating, it is
plain to the edge american intelligence in the age of terror, but less just talk about your background,
for a moment, yet you are a retired for star
general in the air force and they went on to head both
the USA and they see. I am I right in thinking that
one, has run both those organizations before at your right out and the first one to have been held at sea. I am going to say, but an additional ring
The head of an essay is always military, so I was in uniform through that. A bit on you
oh, but I was also in Europe, one for most, not all, but most of my time at CIA as well
Did you know you wanted to go into intelligence, or did you expect in a more
ordinary career in the air force, actually intelligence is what I asked for
I was a history major. They are forces kind enough to. Let me get a master.
What degree before I came on active duty, I thought that the art discipline of history well suited me for intelligence work. They apparently
greed and allowed me to go ahead and do that and for most of my career good too,
I was in what could only be defined as intelligent jobs to know we're gonna talk about things that I think most people
general public only dimly understand- and I I count myself among them, not being among
things that are only dimly understood, but among people who deeply understand them. What is the main difference between
the CIA and the USA how'd. How would you characterize organizations so so
what we have done in the United States, it you don't have to do it this way, but we did is we organised, are big muscular
national intelligence agencies, by the way they collect information and and so an essay collects information through intercepting communications in communications in all its forms? Phone calls faxes.
In the house. Cia gathers information through human sources, the classic spies stuff that you
see and the Hollywood movies, so that that's them in their other differences, but that's the fundamental dividing line between the two and what was the relationship like between the various brand,
of the intelligence community. I guess you could throw the FBI and there is well out of their arrival. Isler luck I mean like these are all bureaucracies and that's good news and bad Emmy bureaucracies or how the union's org
I see them organise themselves in order to be most efficient with a specific task, but you know that
way I have always put it. It is that it takes one kind of culture to intercept,
communications for which you are not the intended recipients said at and another kind of culture to suborned.
To give you information that, frankly, the organ
nation to which they belong, doesn't want you to have not reject those different things, and so they build up a bit of different kinds of cultures. The magic is to preserve enough of those culture so that they can actually do what they're supposed to do in first place, but they also cooperate and synchronize and harmonise.
Activities and use their efficient sharing of information. At this point, how are you
There is serious, in my mind, irreverent wave answering that is
God were giving us a great and God remarking on a curve comparing as to other countries weekend, nay,
neither God nor the american people should marked ass on the curve. It should be on an app
salute scale, an inn
the sharing of information again created in these different kinds of organizations. The sharing of information is something that you always want to improve.
So described that way,
CIA and the USA? Have different liabilities are think o at one point you you say this in the book that the sea
it has often been faulted for in its use of human.
Telegraph for collaborating with bad people. The industry has the opposite problem. They have the problem of ease, dropping on good people. Well, so here's the net it's a great way of a love of taking it up. So
from time to time when CIA goes to a dark period, its journey criticized for the company, it keeps or a big, because you eat the AIDS boy Scouts Journal
dont know the secret. You need to know, and so you establish relationships with folks war,
they're in these targeted organizations Anna, you correctly suggest an
out there be cleaner and the american culture. You know it's technology, it's not suborning someone it's intercepting
communications but, as you suggest,
in the modern world. It's hard to intercept communications of people who, frankly, thank you, want us to listen to without bumping in to the communications of Americans.
Always great distrust that an essay intentionally or
the version late listens to people it shouldn't be listening to practice, should define this term signals, intelligence or thing, and so we put up three letter syllable in front of the word and which means intelligence, and so you have an end imagery intelligence. The picture guys you ve got sick and signals and
I'll. Just at the end, the safe folks say the electrons and photons of modern communication, and then you met you, men, intelligence, which is the works of of CIA, the power
Six spine are pretty interesting because there are many things we do which-
Everyone knows or assumes that we do as other they're, essentially open secrets, but when a secret is made explicit, people seem to react very badly to this information. I am thinking in particular of our surveillance or or claimed surveillance of Angela Merkel cell phone, when it was revealed by, I believe by
which noted, or at least a ledge, by Edward Snowden and right. You know this. This created an international incident, but isn't it the case that all my
your governments, both our allies and not assume that this sort of thing
I'm goes on over time. The date they do and in their quieter moments they understand there are not enthusiastic about it, but they do accept that that kind of stuff is an accepted international practice. So I was in Germany visiting at a conference during the height of the careful we had after Snowden delegations, and I
What a story to the to the Germans, which, which was simply you know after Sandra Bomber, was elected, had run his campaign. There was black beard and, of course we saw that you said, Mr President, Elect don't don't know they should be doing that now and he just right.
Used to give it up. I mean he's quarter, think on CNBC back in two thousand late, two thousand and eight you sound like a second amendment,
Mr Greece, that you're gonna have to come from my fingers in order to get my blackberry, so we said: ok, we got it. You're gonna keep it becomes a byword for little period. A timely kind of tightening up in the present Elect agree
to limit some of his usage audit, the what's the backstory on the back stories
We were telling the soon to be most powerful man on them in the most powerful nation on earth did if he used his blackberry in his national capital. His emails text, messages and phone calls would be intercepted by a big number
foreign intelligence services, and we we didn't render garments your fain outrage week. Just understood, that's the way things are yeah yeah. I wasn't in your book. You describe how stressful the job of being a second analysed can be in any described
generations that I think most of us really haven't thought of in any detail. So, for instance, you talk about people who spend weeks and months
name to the phone calls of specific targets and getting to know them very intimately and then, when these people are discovered to be terrorists and are located in and direct action is taken against them, which is to say their killed. These analyse, then,
witness the aftermath of monitoring the calls of distress.
Family members and and and this can be very stressful, work that that some intelligent up operatives- fine, they just can't do we had that experience it at an essay because
that's what they do and is even worse than you have laid out. I mean sometimes when you
and all your homework and created, exquisite intelligence and you know the location of the phone, but you want to be absolutely certain. This wasn't the day that is bad. Guy gave his phone to his cousin. I write for whom we have no no interest. The you actually during an intercept might turn to the analysts and say: is that him is that his voice and the eldest knows full well that if the answer is yes, we're gonna go do what it was. You suggested to take direct action to you. Ve got that decision
and you ve got the aftermath. I mean one thing: intelligent, it's really hard to de human eyes, even the enemy, because intelligence, you actually get up close and no people an end, and so you know in the face of these, I would epics they give a cartoonish view of what has been eyes. Is people actually have to do it better
Alberton? It seems that the public's trust in the intelligence community is now fairly low. I don't of its the lowest point historically, but that set the lowest point. I can remember, and
This is largely the result of the of the revelations of Edward Snowden. I will talk about Snowden in a minute, but that the history of
the USA and CIA target in american citizens proceeds Snowden Uneasy, have it the nineteen seventy five Church Committee report right, which was,
The NSA was spying on people like Jane Fonda, Joan buyers and, and history goes back even further than that. How do you view this history? So that was then. This is now that's not acceptable behaviour. I I'd have to point out a technicality. This probably at the time it happened. It wasn't illegal behaviour.
Simply because the laws work or clear about that, but in the nineteen seventy see great intelligence reforms at the church, Pike ERA, american privacy and the protection of american privacy, as is become embedded in the way that an essay does business and- and so I look, I'm very happy to talk talk it.
Any of my countrymen, when they have a concern into the gray allowed by long policy, explain what it is that an essay is doing it? And frankly my life experience has been the more I explained, the war I get. Oh well. Ok, that's different. I misunderstood from people live concerns, although there are some people who just tab at basic and spiritual view of government or government, even our government, so there is no convincing them, but for the for the majority of Americans
If you explain it, the EU you'll get an adult kind of answer here. I do I talk about specifically what people are confused about with respect to the Vienna Say: surveillance controversy, alien, a minute, but I will get the Snowden but
taking more generally for the moment, can you say something about the legitimacy of the government, keeping secrets
has. As you said, many many people seem to think that government secrecy is always illegitimate and they have this rise. Overarching conspiratorial view of the way people in power opera.
And I was afraid, I'd unfairly amazed by the level of enthusiasm. Many people seem to feel for
An organization like Wikileaks or a character like Julian Assange. What are your thoughts on secrecy? So here's the problem that we ask
espionage is a worthy activity for democracy, and I actually got on my way teaching my classes at George Mason to point out that espionage is not compatible with American. Democracy is essential to american democracy, because frightened people don't make good Democrats or Republicans
and so you ve got this function, which is noble, worthy and frankly, historic nations, first
Master was its first president, George Washington, but it's a secret activity inside of a broader political culture that distrusts secrecy to never rest easy in inside the american mind. I've actually come now to the conclusion that, although you can't tell everybody everything
my old tribe. They, the intelligence community, is going to have to be more forthcoming about what it is it does to the broader population. Otherwise we won't get their sanction. We won't get their legitimacy, their validation. And, although you know, when you tell people what your doing in terms of espionage, you shave point of affected this right.
Telling my old friends back in the community, but if you don't tell me, you're, not gonna get to do it in the first place, so we're just gonna have to find a new, a new set of point for our fulcrum here between secrecy and transparency, and what is the trade off between
privacy and other civil liberties and surety, in your view, so I was up in British Columbia several years ago for the provincial security organizations annual conference. So you can imagine candidate tenor of of that meeting, and I was asked at the conference of which your definition of privacy and my answer was. Privacy is the line we continuously and a goose
the between ourselves as unique creatures of God and ourselves as social animals we may reach.
In ourselves as unique and deserving privacy and secrecy about our innermost thoughts and our responsibility to the larger group of which we are apart and the punchline and all that it's a line that we continuously negotiated. So therefore,
apple the balance on September, ten two thousand and one was in one place, the Valentine September, twelve two thousand and one was in another place, and it doesn't mean that the first one was wrong. It just means we are now in different circumstances and for a free people should have that conversation as to what the appropriate balance is worth that moment for the
circumstances. I must say that that under the Obama administration, I was much more sang.
Then, I am now about having a government that empowered to pry into our data- and I remember the time when this was hotly debated this this trade off between privacy and security, that many people
when it out that, whatever powers we gave to administration, whose ethics and professionalism we trust would be inherited by a future administration. That we might not trust and right is always seem like a fair point. But
must say that I never really envisioned a person like Trump becoming President I'd states and my feelings.
About what I want our government to be able to do have been pushed around a little bit in the meantime sure now. The fact is that whatever
hours, we grant a government, we have to understand will be inherited.
By the worst conceivable, but still possible administration. We we are capable of promoting. I don't know how you view the current admit.
Strange and I don't know how constrained you are and in sharing those views, but even to speaking generically. How do you think about up our need to anticipate these doctors idea right? So the Good NEWS is the guys you heard our constitution had about his dark, a hobby. In view of the world, is you do so so they baked in to the constitution a really robust system of checks and balances? So that's one reality. The second after met. If you read the Federalist papers, particular the ones penned by Hamilton, they do give a lot of space for the executive when it comes to questions of national security.
Show so the president, under article two as a very powerful authorities that you know we talked about the nineteen seventies before and the reforms that air and church Pike and all that we did something odd in the nineteen seventies and it's still odd among western democracies,
We we decided in the seventies because of Watergate inaction, weakness
I did to move oversight and control of something that up to that point had been entirely the province of the executive espionage and put a good chunk of the oversight in the Congress and even in the courts, and I'm here to tell you that still odd other countries are british friends. Our stroll your friends and so on. Have nothing near that system of checks and balances, as we allow the parliament so to speak in the courts to have a more robust role. So we we got to witness something that did actually should help. Put your mind a little bit at ease about two weeks ago and I certainly was very proud of the two men involved to recall the open. Testimony of Jim call me, the head of the FBI, MIKE Rogers. They had event a say,
In front of the House intelligence committee- and they were asked about the President said we wiretap tuck trumped tower and and and there you had the head of the nation's federal police force, the FBI Jim coming, and I had
the nations largest intelligence organization MIKE Rogers and an essay simply tell the Congress in open session. That is not true. The president of the United States, the chief executive, the commission
during chief is simply wrong. Only in America would you have that question, asked an open session answered and open session and answered so candidly by again to very powerful intelligence figures. So I get the concern book, but there
there there is a strong culture inside the american intelligence services, a strong constitutional culture that that you know that their first reflex is this. Is this legal? Is this constitution and again I fully met and I'll even Hamilton pens and is in his papers that we give the executive an awful lot of authority when it when it comes to national defence and hence espionage. Shall I take the concern, but I'm trying to council you that there is no reason to be despairing about this. I will sleep an extra.
Her tonight. Oh by the way I shared your lack of vision, has to this man becoming is presently the United States. You didn't get that intelligence apparently fattened up. So much talk about Snowden and the
an essay surveillance controversy, and I should like it
little background here that you may not be aware of first, our podcast listener should know that I've invited Snowden come on the pocket
Through his lawyer at the dsl you and the lawyer responded he's pastime invitation along
This is months ago. I still haven't heard from Snowden and
the invitation remains open,
can only imagine at my history with Glenn Green Walled would make him unwilling to talk to me and the truth is his association with Green Walled has contaminated my view of of Snowden. In this whole episode and green walls
I am sure everyone knows- is one of the two primary people, along with Laura Poydras who Snowden gave his information to write and imagine
just happen to know through direct experience that continues to this day
The green Walled is an extraordinarily dishonest and ideologically driven person, and he be really does not
have a journalistic bone in his body, and so the and the fact that he was is widely considered. A journalist is really the product of of Snowden simply having handed him the story of the decade and he didn't, by virtue
of transferring that information give green wall they a set of journalistic ethics cells was so when the story broke. I knew
what I thought about Greenwell than I, and I knew what I thought about anyone who would want to give him state secrets based on a fondness for his politics, which is like nine parts that the masochism of NOME Chomsky in
One part he spent too much time Livin in Brazil with his dogs,
So I was prejudice frankly against taking the whole thing at face. Value
you, but in the intervening years I must say, Snowden has come off.
Very well in some of his interviews and- and I dont actually know what to make of him- and I am just one ask you first, what's your opinion of before we get into the consequences of
sure of what he did and and and what the essay was actually doing. What's your opinion of Snowden do take his motives at face value well, is motivated,
related Norway, sort out alone, understand, and I'm not I'm not the business of challenging with what the young man says in terms of its motive
But his motivation was it simply. He didn't like what s it was doing. A right and an I've got a point out nothing, but he revealed through Greenwater Portress and bark government and a few others nothing incurable was illegal. I write it. In fact, he was actually well known to the oversight committees in Congress, even the most controversial of the programmes he exposed him because he didn't like them. They did they they do.
Turn him personally. He personally objected to them, but there is no illegality
even in the darkest stories written about what it was. He revealed an and so in essence, what he did was to.
Replace the judgment of the american political and legal process under which the espionage agencies work and replace said judgment with his own, and then he pushed
an incredible volume of american secrets out the door. I I've said earlier still stand by. This is the greatest hemorrhaging of legitimate american secrets in the history of the American Republic, and, let me just for purposes of of discussion concede are right. Then he raised an interesting important issue in the two fifteen programme: the Metadata programme, everything else he pushed out the door didn't implicate your promise, your mind, everything else
He pushed out the door was how America conducts foreign surveillance and, and- and so are you know that the question I ask is so too: why did you tell the world the USA's partner, Gc Age, Q, intercepted Dmitri, MID they're, just satellite phone during a G8 meeting,
great Britain, where is where's the privacy quotient there? Why did you tell the South China morning
who's the USA had penetrated the computers. Are some chinese universities were what what? What what fourth amendment right? Are you implicating by that, and I could go on road with a whole bunch of things that were revealed vs, notably in fact, you know you bring up
really good point. He gave this stuff to them. It was. It was green. While you decided what should or should not go out the door and and be made public- and I share your judgment- that's that's would not have been my choice here-
Before we get into what the USA was actually doing, and what you think Americans
Your stand about that and, and things like the two fifteen programme. Do we know what the consequences have been of snow dislikes, Joe Rick legit? Who is just about to leave that to say, as the deputy director was in charge,
should the damage assessment, afterward and wreck allowed himself in enough in a public apparent not too many weeks ago, that they are there now approaching about a thousand legitimate Ford intelligence targets
who have changed their methodology of communicating based upon what have been revealed in in that with that massive volume of Stoughton leaks and follow one stories, and so what you got is an essay not being able to do what it did previously, not to be perfectly honest, all advantage in sickened signals, intelligence, all advantages, transit, you again target you lose targets, targets, move and so on and so overtime at a sable will re establish the kinds of things I think he would want it to do that there will be a gap. It will
time is gonna cost a lot of money, and you do you think Snowden should be prosecuted for what he did or what it anything should happen to him. If he came back to the states and at the moment it is he a russian asset doing
think we his I dont, have any re. I don't have any data on which to base that right, and so I don't know, I don't say that no other people of offer hypotheses
I'll get a twenty eight twenty nine year old, contractor pull this off about health and so on. But you know that's that's deductive reasoning,
how can we go inductive and target? I gotta have data before I begin to joining those coming to a conclusion, so I don't know I guess she hears what he says:
He is that what he says he is United States and United States in its wreck and, frankly, the security of his friends very dearly so yeah. I think he ought to be really prosecuted if he should ever here. So let's talk about the two,
in programme, the distinction between Medeia and listening to people's calls, what
as the USA actually doing. And what do you think most people think they were doing so
I cannot give you a real good answer on the actually cause. I started this. We started this the first week of October, two thousand and one, and what we did was to go to the american telecom providers and have them forward to us almost continue.
Sleep? What you and I used to call our phone bill
remember we used to have to pay for it by the minute, by the call had on our readers argument here right and bit, but that the companies for their own network management and billing raises keep those records, and so we ask him
They forwarded to us the Meadow Data of american call was both within America and to and from America the metadata. The fact of the call this number called that number at this time. For that,
and you know I know no reason to hide anything here. We built built up a good Julian record database of all those calls, but access to the data base was
strictly limited, and the only way we use the database was, for example, we row up a safe house in Yemen and we come across a guy based on his pocket. Litter of you know the studies carried with him all this, a very bad guy S, failure with Al Qaeda, oh these, at a cell phone. I wonder if
founders ever called America and what we are able to do because we now have this historical record of all. These calls is weakened kind of walk up to that database, so to speak in, say anybody near ever talk to this phone. I just picked up and if a number and say Queens raises a sand and says lawyer, I talked to him, we don't get ass, a number and queens. Who do you talk to that's it? That's the two: fifteen per
It was designed to give us the opportunity to establish linkage between any known terrorist numbers and activity inside inside the United States. Are that's the facts of the case
I think in one year and I've forgotten we read, it may have been like two thousand and twelve- maybe two thousand eleven anything
when, after that, database, like I just described in about two hundred and two,
at times a day. Did anybody talk to this number? So that's the reality that the stories that went out not look out. Why
just on the news. Months later, after an essay and others had tried to explain, and then at that.
Was adventurous. Edges click on that number, and they can then hear their conversation took place six months ago. I mean
It is certainly a violation of the laws of the United States, but is also a violation of the laws of physics. Right there's no way you can click on the number in an metadata database and get the content of calls past. I dont it anyway complain about people being concerned about the government. In my case, having a record of my calls to my brother.
Pittsburgh, alright, which was once in that database, along with everyone else, is called, but the point we are trying to make is it was done for a specific purpose. It was post nice,
and the only reason you could query that database was for counter terrorism purposes.
And in the way I just suggested three, which is very, very limited usage, and I get it there after I get down with that.
Caution? You know a lot of good Americans go. Oh that's a little bit different, but I still want you doing an end. You talked earlier about the kind of thing the reputation of the intelligence Community ACT. I think that's. Ok. The problem we have is this broad, deep, general, just trust of all things: government right now, you're, an end in intelligence is right.
Wrapped up in that overall distrust. So what is the reality of being able to listen to the content of cod?
walls and and and and monitor the content of communications. So shortly after nine eleven, the president gave us
extraordinary authorities to listen to content of cars
entering or leaving the United States when we had reached,
I believe that one or both ends was affiliated with international terrorism, with with Al Qaeda later that was changed in in you. You may you mentioned in your comfort with President Obama. You're just comfort with President Trump will want only one or more surprising things in all. This is how much present
surveillance policies were the same as President Bush's certain in its policies and and ended with President Bush, but actually-
Had the law changed that allowed an essay to better monitor these, these kinds of cause we're talking about here, terrorist related costs, even if one end was in the United States and another programmed it, it snowed revealed not to fifteen but seven
to which has to do with emails either stored in the United States or transiting the United States. Congress actually gave us a great deal of authority to keep an eye on foreign based
emails. They happen to be transiting or having been stored here in the United States,
it is the government doing anything differently as a result of the Snowden links or the same authorities exist. So you don't you know, that's what the site. You that's a great question right, despite all the storm drawn about,
allowed slowdown in terms of the law. The only thing that changes are there
better data? You know I've been talking about when we left the phone companies keeping an essay still just ass. The question aided in body it here talk to this phone, but we left the phone companies keep that's a little more.
Music, then open the way to say was doing an earlier. I call that eighty five percent solution, but that's it
the only change in law. Now with you, you mention
allegations were listen to Angela Merkel. President Obama broadly stated: we work on it
listen to some foreign leaders. We had been listened to in the past that purely voluntary and free
The probably walk some of those back before he left office do and in other than that, no we're we're still
doing what we were doing y know. Your pressed for time I have to
more questions for you before you go on to next meeting. I know you are quite worried about the implications of cyber terrorist.
And cyber war. Just give me your ear, potted dove worries on that topic. Sure we we have is a species decide to put a whole bunch of things it used to be physical war. We used to keep and are safe for our desk, or at least in our wallet inside, put him in our phone and which then makes it accessible to people who would want to do less harm either to scale our information to corrupt our information, to damage our networks or even to take over control devices that your computer controlled and great physical destruction. So we ve entered a whole new new world of how it is we have to defend.
Cells and protect ourselves, because we rushed into this new domain the cyber domain so quickly because it so empowering we can do things it scale you will. I can do things at home that the only big government institutions used to be able to do that because of the digital domain that what that comes, the dangers that tough as as empowered it as it makes you and me to do things it empowers people wishes harm to
yeah. What you which brings me to the last question, what is your view of the russian hacking of the two thousand sixteen presidential election and the attendant issues of fake news and effective propaganda? How how you view the last few months, yeah sell them
did it it's a high confidence judge or the american intelligence community. They didn't to affect the election. They stole the data and the wash the day
through our friend Julian Assange. We talked about earlier and some other platforms and then
They put out an army a trough to touch the data so that Google's algorithms thought that these were trending things, so they would come very much in into our consciousness, and so it's incredible technically, it's called a covert influence campaign and it's the most successful covert influence campaign in the history of covert influence campaigns. Now I do point out.
Somebody used to run CIA. My agency, I can claim, has never been involved in anything like this. In its history, covert influence campaigned, do not create fractures and a society they exploit fractures into society and make them worse until I think the first teaching point I walk away with afterwards saying the Russians did this first teaching point. I would walk away with this shame on us for giving them the opportunity
by being so fractured and our political discourse with general hadn't really has been a pleasure to talk you. Thank you very much and really enjoyed it. They know best of luck.
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Transcript generated on 2020-03-23.