Spying on the leaders of allied countries is "nothing special, and it's certainly nothing new," Gen. Michael Hayden said Sunday on "Face the Nation."
"Leadership intentions were a very high priority for the life of the National Security Agency," Hayden, former head of the NSA and the CIA said.
He refused to comment on specific cases when asked by "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer if he ever spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Hayden said he took President Barack Obama's statement that he knew nothing of the tapping of Merkel's cellphone "at face value,"
and said he could imagine circumstances where the president would not have been informed.
"The fact that they didn't rush in to tell the president this was going on points out what I think is a fundamental fact: This wasn't exceptional. This is what we were expected to do."
And he reiterated the point that other nations are spying on America. That, Hayden noted, is why Obama was told to stop using his Blackberry after he was elected president.
Hayden also noted
that a member of the German parliament has suggested NSA leaker Edward Snowden, whom Hayden has termed a "defector," should be given a platform from which he could reveal more American secrets.
"That would kind of moot the debate about whether or not we are spying on our 'friend,'" Hayden said.
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