Face the Nation transcripts December 29, 2013: Hayden, Drake, Radack, Gellman

 

HAYDEN: As long as it's done overseas against people not protected by the fourth amendment to the Constitution, Major, the Constitution doesn't enter into the conversation.

GARRETT: What are your thoughts currently on Edward Snowden? Have they evolved in any way?

HAYDEN: No, not at all.

GARRETT: What do you think he is?

HAYDEN: Well, I used to say he was a defector, you know, and there's a history of defection -- actually, there's a history of defection to Moscow, and that he seems to be part of that stream. I'm now, kind of, drifting in the direction of perhaps more harsh language.

GARRETT: Such as?

HAYDEN: Such as "traitor."

GARRETT: Based on what?

HAYDEN: Well, in the past two weeks, in open letters to the German and the Brazilian government, he has offered to reveal more American secrets to those governments in return for something -- and in return was for asylum. I think there's an English word that describes selling American secrets to another government, and I do think it's treason.

GARRETT: Is the NSA stronger or weaker as a result of Edward Snowden's disclosure?

HAYDEN: It's infinitely weaker.

GARRETT: Infinitely?

HAYDEN: Infinitely. This is the most serious hemorrhaging of American secrets in the history of American espionage. Look, we've had other spies. We can talk about Hanssen and Aldrich Ames. But their damage, as bad as it was, was fairly limited, and even though in both of those cases, human beings actually lost their lives. But they were specific sources, all right? Now, there's a reason we call these leaks, all right? And if you extend the metaphor, Hanssen and Ames -- you could argue whether that was a cup of water that was leaked or a bucket of water that was leaked. What Snowden is revealing, Major, is the plumbing. He's revealing how we acquire this information. It will take years, if not decades, for us to return to the position that we had prior to his disclosure.

GARRETT: Are you afraid of more disclosures?

HAYDEN: Well, actually that's a great question. because I saw, in your lead-in, you had Mr. Snowden saying, "My work is done." Now, does that mean all the stories based upon the information he's given to the press will stop? You know, he said he's accomplished his objective. "I've already won." But yet will the stories stop? I don't think so.

GARRETT: And what are you most afraid of if the stories continue?

HAYDEN: What I'm most afraid of is that we'll reveal our sources and methods, our tactics, techniques and procedures, to people around the world who will the American nation and the American people harm.

GARRETT: Is it your contention, getting back to what we first talked about, that these techniques, these tactics, these surveillance mechanisms, are legitimate legally but also more important because of the atomized nature of the terrorist threat and affiliated groups with Al Qaida?

HAYDEN: Yeah, actually that's a great point, Major. Because the 215 program, the metadata program, the one we're talking about -- that is actually more ideally suited against that granular, one-off, individualized, self-radicalized attack. It's probably a little less useful to the traditional Al Qaida attack, which is that slow-moving, ponderous plot with multiple threads designed for mass casualties against an iconic target.

HAYDEN: I'm not saying 215 isn't valuable there. But I'm saying there are enough other threads we could pool and perhaps learn about those traditional plots. Now we get plots like a drive-by shooting in Little Rock. We get plots like what happened in Boston at the Marathon. We -- we get plots like the Army major shooting up fellow soldiers in Texas.

GARRETT: General Hayden, it's good to have you with us. Thank you very much. Happy new year to you.

HAYDEN: And to you, Major.

GARRETT: We'll be back in one minute with the other side of the NSA surveillance issue.

GARRETT: Now to talk more about Edward Snowden and what he revealed, I'm joined by Jesselyn Radack, who was with the Government Accountability Project and is a Snowden legal advisor, and Thomas Drake, a former NSA employee turned whistle-blower who beat charges of espionage over his work revealing problems with the previous NSA surveillance program. Jesselyn, Thomas, it's great to have you with us. Jesselyn, I want to give you a chance to react to what you just heard from General Hayden, NSA surveillance is legal and this country and its counterterrorism techniques and tactics are infinitely weaker because of Edward Snowden.

RADACK: Well, in terms of them being legal, there is obviously a conflict between two federal court judges on this issue. And what General Hayden neglected to bring up is that Judge Leon's opinion, finding the surveillance mechanisms to be likely unconstitutional and also ineffective, mirrors very much a White House review panel's internal recommendations that found much of the same thing. So I feel very much that that vindicates Snowden as a whistle- blower. It's very rare that a whistle-blower has the imprimatur of both a federal court decision and a hand-picked White House internal review panel corroborating, basically, all that he has disclosed.

GARRETT: Thomas Drake, you are aware of the criticism of Edward Snowden, saying he should have followed the procedures. He should have worked through an inspector general; he should have gone to Congress; he should have gone to supervisors. You did all of that and you were prosecuted by this federal government and you ultimately saw that case shrunk down to a misdemeanor. How do you react to General Hayden's characterization of Edward Snowden as a traitor?