Former CIA & NSA Head: After 9/11 US Constitution Is “A Movable Feast”


In a recent speech, former head of the NSA and the CIA Michael Hayden suggested that following the 9/11 attacks, he reinterpreted the US Constitution and “started to do different things,” without the authorization of Congress or the President.

Speaking at Washington and Lee University last week Hayden effectively said that he was able to rewrite the Constitution based on his own “mature judgment” of what is right and wrong.

He specifically noted that, in his own mind at least, Fourth Amendment protections are now open to interpretation.

The Atlantic has the story, noting:

In a speech at Washington and Lee University, Michael Hayden, a former head of both the CIA and NSA, opined on signals intelligence under the Constitution, arguing that what the 4th Amendment forbids changed after September 11, 2001. He noted that “unreasonable search and seizure,” is prohibited under the Constitution, but cast it as a living document, with “reasonableness” determined by “the totality of circumstances in which we find ourselves in history.”

He explained that as the NSA’s leader, tactics he found unreasonable on September 10, 2001 struck him as reasonable the next day, after roughly 3,000 were killed. “I actually started to do different things,” he said. “And I didn’t need to ask ‘mother, may I’ from the Congress or the president or anyone else. It was within my charter, but in terms of the mature judgment about what’s reasonable and what’s not reasonable, the death of 3,000 countrymen kind of took me in a direction over here, perfectly within my authority, but a different place than the one in which I was located before the attacks took place. So if we’re going to draw this line I think we have to understand that it’s kind of a movable feast here.”

Perhaps terrorists should take note. If you keep attacking the US, the people in charge, like Hayden, will keep systematically breaking down what were previously considered unalienable freedoms until they are completely gone – thus you, the terrorists, win.

Within the same twisted speech, Hayden also casually noted that since 9/11 the NSA has not only been spying on and monitoring bad guys, but also anyone it considers to be “interesting”.

“I am not a law enforcement officer. I don’t suspect anybody.” Hayden said, adding “I am simply going out there to retrieve information that helps keep my countrymen free and safe. This is not about guilt. In fact, let me be really clear. NSA doesn’t just listen to bad people. NSA listens to interesting people. People who are communicating information.”

So much for the age old justification of ‘if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear’.

General Hayden. of course, has a track record of trashing the Constitution – it’s what brought him to the NSA gig in the first place.

He was the man who seriously argued, a decade ago, that there was no mention of “probable cause” in the Fourth Amendment, insisting that only ‘reasonable search and seizure’ was required in violating the privacy of Americans.

Hayden also contends that government secrecy is akin to an individual’s private privacy, and so the American public should not be privy to the actions of the NSA.

Hayden has also dubbed Edward Snowden worse than any American “traitor” ever, including Benedict Arnold, for blowing the whistle on government spying, and described Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Snowden story, as a “co-conspirator”. Hayden intimated that he would like to see both added to a government ‘kill list’.