Former CIA head Hayden: Espionage essential to protect Americans
Spying is as patriotic as baseball and apple pie, retired CIA Director Michael Hayden told two groups in Pittsburgh on Monday.
But technology and foreign threats have shifted so dramatically that spy masters need new parameters for their craft, he said. Americans who no longer trust the government to set those boundaries must get involved in redefining them.
“Espionage is not only compatible with democracy,” Gen. Hayden said at a morning event with students at Peters Township High School. “Espionage ... is necessary for a democracy to remain free and safe.”
Hayden, a native Pittsburgher and a Steelers fan who timed his visit around the team's home game on Sunday, spoke with students from several schools who attended in person and others from across the country who interacted online. Later, he spoke at a World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh luncheon in the Duquesne Club, Downtown.
Concerns about the spying techniques revealed by defector Edward Snowden stem from intelligence agencies using old ways to fight emerging threats, Hayden said.
Systems built to target foreign states are not hard-wired to infiltrate rogue groups. Terrorists who communicate through Google and Yahoo send messages that commingle with emails of innocent Americans, making them hard to isolate.
“This whole kerfuffle that Snowden has put into motion is fundamentally about, ‘Do you want your security services to keep up with these technological changes?' ” Hayden said at the luncheon.
The intelligence agencies can adapt, he said, but Americans must decide how much privacy they are willing to give up to increase their security. He encouraged people to get involved in the discussion.
It's not an easy question to answer, said Vicki Mannion, a Peters social studies teacher. The generation growing up since 9/11 seems willing to trade privacy for greater security, she said. Her students answered an informal poll saying they would give up some personal information for greater safety, and one-third said they would sacrifice all.
“You've got to be careful,” said Walter Michalski, 18, a Peters senior. “I assume nothing is private at this point.”
Dane Sehnert, 17, a Peters senior, said government surveillance is in the back of his mind when he uses his smartphone, laptop and tablet.
“It just makes you wonder what else you don't know,” he said.
Because of Snowden, there's little the public does not know — or won't soon find out, Hayden said. He called the leaks catastrophic because they reveal how the government collects secrets. And based on conversations with insiders about what was stolen, Hayden said he expects the leaks will keep coming.
The sin, he said, is not in spying on foreign heads of state, such as Germany's Angela Merkel, but in getting caught. Foreign governments will avoid working with Americans not because of anger over spying, but because of the government's failure to keep secrets.
“All nations spy,” Hayden told the students. “It is accepted international practice. It is what nations do. If a nation doesn't spy, I would lose all respect for their government. It's what they should do to protect their citizens.”
Andrew Conte is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Andrew Conte to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Monroeville Mall policy aims to tame teen shoppers
- 3-alarm fire burns Hill District row homes
- Pittsburgh police chief: Officers, public must unite against violence
- Black Pittsburghers still challenged in education, workforce, housing
- Port Authority focusing on natural-gas bus fleet for proposed rapid transit line
- McCandless mortgage broker company president charged with bank fraud conspiracy
- Officials investigating fatal Shaler house fire, working to identify body found in rubble
- Pittsburgh councilwoman Rudiak announces bid for city controller
- PennDOT to replace drivers licenses issued since November without proper security features
- Easter Seals merger in Pennsylvania raises ethics concerns
- PUC fines 8 transport companies, including 2 in Western Pennsylvania