Hayden: Cyberterrorists Likely to Retaliate if Snowden Is Caught

Wednesday, 07 Aug 2013 02:29 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Hackers and government transparency groups are likely to commit cyberterrorism attacks if the United States ever takes secret information leaker Edward Snowden into custody, retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden has warned.

"They may want to come after the U.S. government, but frankly, you know, the dot-mil stuff is about the hardest target in the United States," the former director of both the CIA and NSA said at a meeting of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., The Guardian reports.

"I'm just trying to illustrate that you've got a group of people out there who make demands, whose demands may not be satisfiable, may not be rational from other points of view, may not be the kinds of things that government can accommodate."

Hayden, who co-chairs the Bipartisan Center's Electric Grid Cyber Security Initiative, referred to the potential cyberterrorists as being as being committed high-profile computer hackers who probably "haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years."

The retired general was in charge of the NSA when it expanded its primary efforts aimed at collecting foreign intelligence to include the collection of domestic phone records and Internet data following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The program, code-named Stellar Wind, was the genesis for several of the NSA's collection and analysis programs that Snowden disclosed earlier this year to The Guardian and The Washington Post.

The former NSA contractor is still in Russia where he has been granted temporary asylum, a decision that led President Barack Obama on Wednesday to canceling a planned summit meeting next month with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In his remarks, Hayden was careful to say he was being "entirely speculative, not predictive," about what sophisticated computer hackers might do in support of Snowden, who many regard as a whistleblower rather than a traitor.

"Snowden has created quite a stir among those folks who are very committed to ... global transparency and the global web, kind of ungoverned and free," Hayden said.

Hayden is among those who believe that Snowden does not deserve to be treated as a whistleblower or anybody's hero for releasing the top-secret information on the NSA data collection programs to the public.

"He claims whistleblower status. Whistleblower for what? For revealing a program that's been approved by two presidents, approved by bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress, and has been approved and is overseen by the American court system?" Hayden observed in a recent interview with Newsmax.

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