On CBS’s Face the Nation, retired Gen. Michael Hayden — NSA director under Presidents Clinton and Bush and CIA Director under Bush and President Obama — said that while Snowden’s leaks have done damage to the U.S. intelligence operations and its relations with allied governments, they have served one positive purpose of sparking debate about surveillance and called for more transparency about the programs:
HOST BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think the government ought to be doing more to help the American people understand what’s happening here?
HAYDEN: Look, one of the results of the Snowden leaks is that it’s launched a national debate about the balance between privacy and security. I’m convinced the more the American people know exactly what it is we are doing in this balance between privacy and security, the more they know the more comfortable they will feel. So frankly I think we ought to be doing a bit more to explain what it is we’re doing, why, and the very tight safeguards under which we’re operating.
Hayden, a supporter of the NSA’s surveillance programs, said earlier this month that the Obama administration has been more transparent about the U.S. government’s surveillance programs than the Bush administration had. “[T]hey made this metadata collection activity available to all the members of Congress. Not just all the members of the intelligence committees,” Hayden told CNN’s Jake Tapper.