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Today, we have General Michael Hayden, principal deputy director of National Intelligence with the Office of National Intelligence, who will talk about the recent controversy surrounding the National Security Agency's warrantless monitoring of communications of suspected al Qaeda terrorists.
General Hayden, who's been in this position since last April, is currently the highest ranking military intelligence officer in the armed services, and he also knows a little something about this controversy because in his life he was NSA director when the NSA monitoring program began in --sorry.
Good morning. I'm happy to be here to talk a bit about what American intelligence has been doing and especially what NSA has been doing to defend the nation.
Now, as Keith points out, I'm here today not only as Ambassador John Negroponte's deputy in the Nsa Dearborn in the morning of the Director of National Intelligence, I'm also here as the former director of the National Security Agency, a post I took in March of and left only last spring. Serious issues have been raised in recent weeks, and discussion of serious issues should be based on facts. There's a lot of information out there right now. Some of it is, frankly, inaccurate.
Much of it is just simply misunderstood. I'm here to tell the American people what NSA has been doing and why. And perhaps more importantly, what NSA has not been doing. Now, admittedly, this is a little hard to do while protecting our country's intelligence sources and methods. And, frankly, people in my line of work generally don't like to talk about what they've done until it becomes a subject on the History Channel.
But let me make one thing very clear. As challenging as this morning might be, this is Nsa Dearborn in the morning speech I want to give. I much prefer being here with you today telling you about the things we have done when there hasn't been an attack on the homeland. This is a far easier presentation to make than the ones I had to give four years ago telling audiences like you what we hadn't done in the days and months leading up to the tragic events of September 11th.
Today's story isn't an easy one to tell in this kind of unclassified environment, but it is by far the brief I prefer to present. Now, I know we all have searing memories of the morning of September 11th.
I know I do. Making the decision to evacuate non- essential workers at NSA while the situation was unclear; seeing the NSA counterterrorism shop in tears while we were tacking up blackout curtains around their windows; like many of you, making that phone call, asking my wife to find our kids, and then hanging up the phone on her.
Another memory for me comes two days later -- that's the 13th of September -- when I addressed the NSA workforce to lay out our mission in a new environment. It was a short video talk; we beamed it throughout our headquarters at Fort Meade and globally throughout our global enterprise. Now, most of what I said was what anyone would expect. I tried to inspire: our work was important; the nation was depending on us. I tried to comfort: Look on the bright side, I said to them, right now a quarter billion Americans wish they had your job, being able to go after the enemy.
I ended the talk by trying to give a little perspective. I noted that all free peoples have had to balance the demands of liberty with the demands of security, and historically, historically we Americans have been able to plant our flag well down the spectrum toward liberty. Here was our challenge, I said, and I'm quoting from that presentation: "We are going to keep America free by making Americans feel safe again.
But to start the story with that Thursday, December 13th, is a bit misleading. It's a little bit like coming in near the end of the first reel of a movie.
To understand that moment and that statement, you would have to know a little bit about what had happened to the National Security Agency in the preceding years. Look, NSA intercepts communications, and it does so for only one purpose -- to protect the lives, the liberties and the well-being of the citizens of the United States from those who would do us harm. By the late s, that job was becoming increasingly more difficult.
The explosion of modern communications in terms of volume, variety, velocity threatened to overwhelm us. The agency took a lot of criticism in those days, I know, criticism that it was going deaf, that it was ossified in its thinking, that it had not and could not keep up with the changes in modern communications.
And all of that was only reinforced when all of the computer systems at Fort Meade went dark for three days in January of and we couldn't quickly or easily explain why. Those were really interesting times. As we were being criticized for being incompetent and going deaf, at the same time others seemed to be claiming that we were omniscient and we were reading your e- mails. The Washington Post and New Yorker Magazine during that time -- I'm talking now of -- they wrote, incorrectly, that -- and I'm quoting -- "NSA has turned from eavesdropping on the communists to eavesdropping on businesses and private citizens.
And that -- and I'm quoting again -- "NSA has the ability to extend its eavesdropping network without limits. I used those quotes in a speech I gave at American University in February of The great urban legend out there then was something called "Echelon" and the false accusation that NSA was using its capabilities to advance American corporate interests -- als intelligence for General Motors, or something like that.
You know, with these kinds of charges, the turf back then feels a bit familiar now. How could we prove a negative -- that we weren't doing certain things -- without Nsa Dearborn in the morning the appropriate things we were doing that kept America safe? In order to protect American lives and liberties, it has to be two things: powerful in its capabilities, and secretive in its methods.
And we exist in a political culture that distrusts two things most of all: power and secrecy. Modern communications didn't make this any easier. Gone were the days when als of interest -- that's what NSA calls the things they want to copy -- gone were the days when als of interest went along some dedicated microwave link between strategic rocket forces headquarters in Moscow and some ICBM in western Siberia.
By the late '90s, what NSA calls targeted communications -- things like al Qaeda communications -- coexisted out there in a great global web with your phone calls and my e-mails.
NSA needed the power to pick out the one, and the discipline to leave the others alone. So, this question of security and liberty wasn't a new one for us in September of We've always had this question: How do we balance the legitimate need for foreign intelligence with our responsibility to protect individual privacy rights?
September 11th didn't change that. But it did change some things. SIGINT is a complex business, with operational and technological and legal imperatives often intersecting and overlapping. There's routinely some freedom of action -- within the law -- to Nsa Dearborn in the morning operations. After the attacks, I exercised some options I've always had that collectively better prepared us to defend the homeland. Look, let me talk for a minute about this, okay? Because a big gap in the current understanding, a big gap in the current debate is what's standard?
What is it that NSA does routinely? Where we set the threshold, for example, for what constitutes inherent foreign intelligence value? That's what we're directed to collect. That's what we're required to limit ourselves to -- inherent foreign intelligence value. Where we set that threshold, for example, in reports involving a U. The American SIGINT system, in the normal course of foreign intelligence activities, inevitably captures this kind of information, information to, from or about what we call a U.
And by the way, "U. So, for example, because they were in the United States -- and we did not know anything more -- Mohamed Atta and his fellow 18 hijackers would have been pd to have been protected persons, U. Inherent foreign intelligence value is one of the metrics we must use. Let me repeat that: Inherent foreign intelligence value is one of the metrics we must use to ensure that we conform to the Fourth Amendment's reasonable standard when it comes to protecting the privacy of these kinds of people.
If the U. It's a technical term we use; we call it "minimized. Or if he or she is, he or she is referred to as "U. Person One" or "U. Person Two. The standard by which we decided that, the standard of what was relevant and valuable, and therefore, what was reasonable, would understandably change, I think, as smoke billowed from two American cities and a Pennsylvania farm field. And we acted accordingly. To somewhat oversimplify this, this question of inherent intelligence value, just by way of illustration, to just use an example, we all had a different view of Zacarias Moussaoui's computer hard drive after the attacks than we did before.
Look, this is not unlike things that Nsa Dearborn in the morning in other areas. Prior to September 11th, airline passengers were screened in one way. After September 11th, we changed how we screen passengers. In the same way, okay, although prior to September 11th certain communications weren't considered valuable intelligence, it became immediately clear after September 11th that intercepting and reporting these same communications were in fact critical to defending the homeland.
Now let me make this point. These decisions were easily within my authorities as the director of NSA under and executive order; known as Executive Orderthat was ed inan executive order that has governed NSA for nearly a quarter century. Now, let me summarize. That shouldn't be a headline, but as near as I can tell, these actions on my part have created some of the noise in recent press coverage. Let me be clear on this point -- except that they involved NSA, these programs were not related -- these programs were not related -- to the authorization that the president has recently spoken about.
Back then, SeptemberI asked to update the Congress on what NSA had been doing, and I briefed the entire House Intelligence Committee on the 1st of October on what we had done under our ly existing authorities.
Now, as another part of our adjustment, we also turned on the spigot of NSA reporting to FBI in, frankly, an unprecedented way. We found that we were giving them too much data in too raw form. We recognized it almost immediately, a question of weeks, and we made all of the appropriate adjustments. Now, this flow of data to the FBI has also become part of the current background noise, and despite reports in the press of thousands of tips a month, our reporting has not even approached that kind of pace.
You know, I actually find this a little odd. And of course, it's the nature of intelligence that many tips lead nowhere, but you have to go down some blind alleys to find the tips that pay off. Now, beyond the authorities that I exercised under the standing executive order, as the war on terror has moved forward, we have aggressively used FISA warrants. The act and the court have provided us with important tools, and we make full use of them. Published s show us using the court at record rates, and the have been outstanding. But the revolution in telecommunications technology has extended the actual impact of the FISA regime far beyond what Congress could ever have anticipated in I testified in open session to the House Intel Committee in April of the year At the time, I was just using this as some of sort of stark hypothetical; 17 months later, this is about life and death.
So now, we come to one additional piece of NSA authorities. These are the activities whose existence the president confirmed several weeks ago. That authorization was based on an intelligence community assessment of a serious and continuing threat to the homeland.
The lawfulness of the actual authorization was reviewed by lawyers at the Department of Justice and the White House and was approved by the attorney general. Now, you're looking at me up here, and I'm in a military uniform, and frankly, there's a certain sense of sufficiency here -- authorized by the president, duly ordered, its lawfulness attested to by the attorney general and its content briefed to the congressional leadership.
But we all have personal responsibility, and in the end, NSA would have to implement this, and every operational decision the agency makes is made with the full involvement of its legal office. NSA professional career lawyers -- and the agency has a bunch of them -- have a well-deserved reputation. They're good, they know the law, and they don't let the agency take many close pitches. And so even though I knew the program had been reviewed by the White House and by DOJ, by the Department of Justice, I asked the three most senior and experienced lawyers in NSA: Our enemy in the global war on terrorism doesn't divide the United States from the rest of the world, the global telecommunications system doesn't make that distinction either, our laws do and should; how did these activities square with these facts?
They reported back to me. They supported the lawfulness of this program. Supported, not acquiesced. This was very important to me. A veteran NSA lawyer, one of the three I asked, told me that a correspondent had suggested to him recently that all of the lawyers connected with this program have been very careful from the outset because they knew there would be a day of reckoning. The NSA lawyer replied to him that that had not been the case.
NSA had been so careful, he said -- Nsa Dearborn in the morning I'm using his words now here -- NSA had been so careful because in this very focused, limited program, NSA had to ensure that it dealt with privacy interests in an appropriate manner.
In other words, our lawyers weren't careful out of fear; they were careful out of a heartfelt, principled view that NSA operations had to e consistent with bedrock legal protections. In early OctoberI gathered key members of the NSA workforce in our conference room and I introduced our new operational authority to them.
With the historic culture of NSA being what it was and is, I had to do this personally.Nsa Dearborn in the morning
email: [email protected] - phone:(477) 806-4355 x 5195
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