Ooops! Maybe putting NSA flunky Michael Hayden out front to defend Chimpy’s extra-consitutional spying was not such a good idea.
Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who led the National Security Agency when it began a program of warrantless wiretaps, vigorously defended the program today, but acknowledged that it depends on a lower standard of evidence than required by courts.
“The trigger is quicker and a bit softer,” said General Hayden, an Air Force officer who is now the principal deputy director of the new national intelligence agency.
The standard laid out by General Hayden – a “reasonable basis to believe” – is lower than “probably cause,” the standard used by the special court created by Congress to handle surveillance involving foreign intelligence.
Mr. Hayden said that warrantless searches were conducted when one of a “handful” of senior officers at the security agency determined that there was a “reasonable belief” that one party to a call between someone in America and someone overseas had a link to Al Qaeda.
When asked what level of certainty was needed in determining that someone was connected to Al Qaeda before a warrantless wiretap was conducted, General Hayden acknowledged that the decision involved “art as well as science.” But he compared it to intelligence given to the military for battlefield decisions.
“It’s the same tactics and procedures used to tell American forces ‘You can go ahead and put a 500-pound bomb on that target,’ ” he said. “It’s the same art and science.”
Um, General Hayden? It might be a bit unwise to compare Chimpy’s illegal snooping procedures to “the same tactics and procedures used to tell American forces ‘You can go ahead and put a 500-pound bomb on that target.’ “