Tags: America's Forum | Michael Hayden | Paris attack | NSA

Michael Hayden: NSA Metadata May Be Key to Solving Paris Attack

By    |   Thursday, 08 January 2015 10:22 AM

The Islamic terrorist attack at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo underscores the importance of national surveillance programs, specifically the collection of metadata, former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden said Thursday on Newsmax TV's “America’s Forum.”

“One of the things the French will come to us almost certainly and ask as they continue their investigation, they're going to come across different communications devices and they know that NSA does magnificently collecting metadata in a variety of areas around the world,” Hayden said.

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“A lot of people were hyperventilating about that six, 12 or 18 months ago. The French are going to come to us and ask us in that ocean of metadata, do these new numbers that we've just associated with these people, do these new numbers show up and what have they been doing and with whom have they been in contact? We did that stuff for a reason. We did it to keep you safe, not to invade your privacy.”

The U.S. government’s practice of collecting metadata – a record of computer searches, email and cellphone records – came under intense criticism from personal libertarians following revelations by NSA leaker Edward Snowden in 2013.

But metadata may be the key to solving the jihadist attack that killed 12 Charlie Hebdo staffers, according to Hayden, who said investigators must find “connective tissue between this small group in France and any larger global jihadist organization,” a task that is becoming increasingly difficult to do in an era of lone-wolf terrorism.

“These guys were never a hierarchy, never under tight demand and control, even back in the day of al-Qaida,” jihadists were empowered to act alone, according to Hayden.

“We may never find an operations order coming out of Iraq or Syria,” he said. “The organization structure is going to be a lot looser and frankly, that makes our job a bit tougher. There are fewer communications to pick up that cue us and clue us.”

Civil libertarians and national security organizations both want to keep America safe, Hayden said, adding that “we all come from the same value system.”

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“There may be less difference there than meets the eye,” he said. “If we cannot defend journalists and other people who are speaking their minds against these kinds of terrorist attacks, free speech and freedom will suffer. When the American security services go about their business they're not just protecting American security, they're protecting American liberty.”

The work of the CIA and NSA are “essential to American freedom,” he said.

While future attacks may be smaller, less well organized and less lethal than 9/11, according to Hayden, the “tools we have that go after these individualized, small groups, self-radicalized, self-motivated, and low threshold attacks, are fairly limited unless you really want to change the rules of the game. Some of this stuff is just going to happen.”

He recommends surveillance inside American mosques.

“We should go to our Islamic communities and give them a strong message that this is not us making war on them,” said Hayden. “This is us protecting their youth from predatory jihadists who recruit them for these kinds of activity.”

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The Islamic terrorist attack at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo underscores the importance of national surveillance programs, specifically the collection of metadata, former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden said Thursday on Newsmax TV's “America’s Forum.”
Michael Hayden, Paris attack, NSA
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2015-22-08
Thursday, 08 January 2015 10:22 AM
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