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

A look back at the government surveillance debate that dominated 2013

DRAKE: I don't consider him a traitor at all. I consider him a whistle-blower. He exposed prima facie evidence regarding the extent of the surveillance program, its unconstitutionality and the fact that we're losing huge, huge amounts of trust overseas, in terms of NSA supposed to be protecting the rights of citizens, but also the United States is supposed to be the bastion of freedom and liberty and rights. It's clearly losing out in the court of world opinion.

GARRETT: For those who may in the future think of themselves as whistle-blowers, or act as whistle-blowers, you have the Snowden case and you have your case. What would you tell them, based on your experience?

DRAKE: Well, you have to lawyer up. That's the first thing. I mean, whistle-blowing now is extraordinarily dangerous. It ends up your first amendment rights are criminalized in this country if you expose especially national security-related matters, that somehow the imprimatur of national security trumps the Constitution; it trumps the rule of law; and it trumps what I believe most Americans would believe is reasonable expectation of privacy. Even -- even Justice Sotomayor, in 2012, in her opinion, said that we have to revisit this expectation of no privacy simply because we provide data to a third party.

GARRETT: Jesselyn, you've met with Edward Snowden, what is his frame of mind? What do you think his legal options are? And will we ever see him back in this country to face trial?

RADACK: I think he would love to be back in this country. He is a patriotic American. He loves his homeland and would love to come back if the conditions were right.

GARRETT: What do you mean by that?

RADACK: By that, I mean we -- people like General Hayden would not be making threats to put him on the kill list and two former CIA chiefs would not be saying that he should be hung from a tree.

GARRETT: But the -- but the president of the United States has made it clear that he would be afforded every protection under the criminal justice system in this country. And I think it's fair to say that he would have a raft of grade A attorneys waiting with open arms to take his case were he to come back to this country. Why not come back?

RADACK: Because the very fact that he's been charged under the Espionage Act shows that it would not be a fair process. Those trials take place largely in secret. There are all sorts of SIPA measures people have to go through. It's overcharging. And as evidenced by Tom Drake's case, you don't use a law meant to go after spies to go after whistle-blowers.

GARRETT: And when you said General Hayden put him on a kill list, what do you mean by that?

RADACK: General Hayden and Michael Rogers, who's the chair of the House Intel Committee...

GARRETT: Intelligence Committee.

RADACK: ... joked about...


RADACK: ... joked about putting him on a list, and one of them being able to...

GARRETT: Are you suggesting that Edward Snowden took that to heart and believes it?

RADACK; Of course. I think he certainly has concerns for his safety, and even last week, with having Morell and another person...

GARRETT: Mike Morell, former deputy CIA director.

RADACK: Exactly, who is also, like Michael Hayden, a former NSA and CIA director, joked -- not only joked; they weren't joking -- they said he should be hung from a tree by his neck, which conjures images of lynching, not a fair trial. And I think guarantees that he would not be tortured is setting the bar really low. I don't think he could get a fair trial here. In fact, I don't think he should have any trial because he's been granted asylum because he has a reasonable fear of political persecution predicated on the very Espionage Act charges with which he is faced.

GARRETT: Thomas Drake, you were charged under the Espionage Act. It was then removed and it was all plead down to a misdemeanor. Do you believe Edward Snowden could get a fair trial in this country? And why not come here and put the justice system, his actions, to the test in a public court of law?

DRAKE: No, not at all.

GARRETT: Your advice to him would be to stay in Russia?

DRAKE: At this time, that's, ironically enough, and the history is a lesson were not lost on me as I walked across Red Square back in October when we went to visit Edward Snowden and presented him with the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award.  No, he had to escape the United States to have any hope of keeping his freedom, let alone disclosing what he needed to provide to reports and journalists. It's important to also point out, Major, that all this history was avoidable. The United States, (inaudible), unchained itself from the Constitution. The bedrock of this country is defending liberty. We have sacrificed any number of lives for the sake of liberty. We have the technology, the very best of America, to solve this problem, Go after the threat, provide superior intelligence, protect the rights of citizens. But that was all rejected by NSA.

GARRETT: And that's one of the reasons you became a whistle- blower.

DRAKE: Yeah, I believe it's also one of the prime reasons they came after me.

GARRETT: Now, let me read to you from the other opinion, from Judge William Pauley. "Every day people voluntarily surrender personal and seemingly private information to transnational corporations which exploit that data for profit. Do you think twice about it, even though it is far more intrusive than bulk telephony metadata collection like that done by the NSA." Why don't -- why isn't -- that says everyone does this; they hand it over willingly.