Politics & Policy

Hayden: NSA Metadata Program ‘Doesn’t Look All That Scary’ Anymore, Does It?

In the wake of Wednesday’s massacre of Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris by Islamic fundamentalists, former CIA director Michael Hayden said the National Security Agency’s much-maligned metadata program “doesn’t look all that scary this morning” — in fact, it could be used to help find the attackers.

When asked on MSBNC’s ”Morning Joe” on Thursday how to halt Islamist attacks on the West, Hayden decided to “be a little dark.”

“There really are no solutions,” he said. ”This is a condition. Now we can manage the condition better. We can make these attacks somewhat less likely, somewhat less lethal. But without changing the characteristics of our societies, we can’t make them go away altogether.”

A long-time defender of the NSA’s collection of reams of electronic data on people worldwide, Hayden used yesterday’s attack to push back against civil libertarians opposed to the program.

“That metadata doesn’t look all that scary this morning,” he said. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if the French services pick up cell phones associated with the attack and ask the Americans, ‘Where have you seen these phones active globally?’ And so we’re going to have to continue to struggle with that balance between keeping ourselves safe and keeping our privacy protected.”

At least two of Wednesday attackers remain at large, with a massive manhunt underway throughout Paris and the surrounding cities. 

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