The release of the classified U.S. information stolen by Edward Snowden is being carefully managed and much more high-level data is likely to be released over a long period, retired Gen. Michael V. Hayden, former Director of the National Security Agency, predicted to Newsmax.
Based on the timing of what has been released so far, "we've only seen a fraction" of what the renegade NSA contractor had, Hayden said in an exclusive interview.
"Even the Guardian, which has been key to publishing what Snowden has, recently suggested we may have so far seen only one percent of what he has," said Hayden, who also was director of the CIA. "My sense is that we are seeing a carefully-manged rollout of what Snowden had."
As for reports that Snowden has given all the documents he has to Glenn Greenwald of the The Guardian and filmmaker Laura Poitras, the former spymaster voiced his conclusion that "they are orchestrating what and when to release for the maximum effect."
Hayden cited numerous examples — all of them very bad for the United States — of the effect of the Snowden document releases.
It "has neutered many present successes we've achieved and will lead to our adversaries change their procedures and tactics," he said, "We've seen our adversaries change these before.
"And it has eroded trust and confidence among many who deal with the U.S. government. Regarding American business, Google and Microsoft have been singled out [for assisting the U.S. government in the eavesdropping procedure] but their circumstances are no different from Deutsche Telecom in Germany. And our allies have lost trust in us because we can't keep a secret."
The most poignant impact of the entire Snowden affair, Hayden believes, “is the impact it has had on the intelligence workforce. A few weeks ago, NSA employees were offered talking points for Thanksgiving to week on how to handle the revelations if they came up at family gatherings. And letters were sent home assure NSA employees that they are heroes.
“Actually, there was no real legal controversy. What NSA employees did in the execution of their assignments [revealed by Snowden] was completely lawful and properly overseen. There is no dispute over this.”
Noting that Snowden characterizes himself as a “an American” and he has been variously dubbed patriot, whistleblower, hero, traitor, enemy, and defector, we asked Hayden what he felt the former NSA contractor was.
“He’s an American defector,” Hayden replied, “And there is a long line of defectors who did what they did for so-called ideological reasons. Many of them realized the promises they received from other countries when they defected were not on strong grounds.”
Hayden added that if Snowden feels he acted as “an American,” then “one has to wonder why he went to two autocratic states to make his charges? If something was bothering him about his work, why didn’t he go for a congressional investigating committee and reveal it?”
He recalled defectors who went over to the old Soviet Union such as several of the United Kingdom’s “Cambridge Five” and ended up, in Hayden’s words, “isolated, lonely, depressed, and in some cases, plagued by alcoholism. There was a pattern there.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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