back to article 'No evidence' Snowden was working for foreign power says ex-NSA boss

Former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden this week told a conference about how little fallout the NSA has suffered after the Snowden leaks, and detailed how his former agency would hack other governments. He said to his audience at the Wall Street Journal's chief financial officer conference: If somebody …

  1. Anonymous Blowhard

    Work smarter, not harder

    Seems like the Chinese now have the same data on US federal employees that the US Government has; only they let the Americans do the hard bit (i.e. collecting all the information in the first place).

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Blackmail?

    "useless for blackmail since Uncle Sam already knew"

    That presumes you only care about the Gov knowing. But what about family, friends, and neighbours who may not be impressed by certain aspects of your private life that you declared for a high security job?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Blackmail?

      Therein is the problem. Which raises other questions.. in the old days (early 70's) you signed a form, listed family, friends, former employers and the FBI took that and investigated. But back then, the form wasn't 127 pages and it sure as hell wasn't in some computer system.

      So.. does the FBI still investigate? Do they note additional and relevant info on the form? Or is that info in a separate database that may or may not have been grabbed?

      Reading Hayden's comments, if we had the chance, we would have grabbed everything. Is what the Chinese (or whoever it was) did?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Blackmail?

        So.. does the FBI still investigate? Do they note additional and relevant info on the form? Or is that info in a separate database that may or may not have been grabbed?

        You're not allowed to know that because national security.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Blackmail?

        The form contains details of anything blackmail-able.

        Next year is an election year.

        Most of those running have held government jobs and filled in this form.

        People still think this "leak" was the Chinese?

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Blackmail?

      >useless for blackmail since Uncle Sam already knew

      How does that argument even work. Say China identifies a US spy from this information.

      They can now bring them in for a chat, show a picture of their daughter hopping out the school bus the previous day, then suggest the sort of information they want the said spy to report back to uncle Sam or, you know, sometimes horrible things happen.

      1. dogged

        Re: Blackmail?

        China cannot identify a US spy from that information. They can identify a government employee from that information. For example, they could learn a cultural attaché was a government employee. I'm sure that would come as an enormous shock to them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Blackmail?

          it MIGHT be possible to identify a US spy. While the spy wouldn't tick "I'm a spy operating in... a) China, b) Russia, c) Britain d) Germany" box, I don't know how much ehm... "flexibility" they have about falsifying details in the form, such as foreign passports, friends abroad, foreign travel, etc. Sure, CIA or whoever who employs them might decide some details harmless enough to say to their own spies: "yeah, sure, put them travels on the form as it really was, no risk", but we don't know if Chinese can't figure out some sort of behavioural pattern to focus on a much narrower pool of form-fillers. And then cross-reference the list with their own intel, to "enhance" the image to the point that certain innocent individuals, even if they don't stick out like a sore thumb, suddenly become worth taking a good, hard look at.

          1. dogged

            Re: Blackmail?

            They have no flexibility because they never fill in the form. Agents names are never written down, their physical descriptions are never stored.

            Government uses *ahem* third-party contract companies to pay those people and they have exactly zero links to the official Three Letter Agencies to be exploited.

            This applies in the US and the UK.

            1. xerocred

              Re: Blackmail?

              Even those agents don't know they are agents.

              They are safe, but useless.

        2. Adam 1 Silver badge

          Re: Blackmail?

          I did not suggest that they would be exposed through their own form. Your privacy can be impacted by someone else's selfie uploaded to youchattwit. I don't understand why you would therefore suddenly believe that you can't be indirectly identified by a big data approach to this information.

          Also, let us assume it is merely a cultural attaché. I would not be so quick to assume a big gap between business interests and government interests. Particularly in a one party state with largely nationalised industry. (Although for balance, the US has its own share of trying to sneak business protection rackets into various FTAs so to criticise that lack of separation is very much pots and kettles.)

  3. WaveyDavey

    Gleam?

    Surely glean ?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Refreshingly candid

    I must admit that these statement are refreshingly candid for someone in his profession. I guess I'm getting too used to the nod, nod, wink, wink and "it wasn't me, you can't prove anything" brigade that abused secrecy to mainly hide incompetence.

    Sure, you may not agree with all of it (I don't :) ), but this openness (as far as it goes) allows at least debate about the issues, which is about the most important thing missing of late. Heck, it may even introduce accountability .. no, wait. One thing at a time. Let's stay realistic.

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Refreshingly candid

      It was. I see it as a gentle reminder to China that the US has the same info on them. Mutually assured destruction and all that, so play nice.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Refreshingly candid

      Shame he couldn't manage to sound so sensible when he was working at the NSA eh?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Refreshingly candid

        isn't it the same bloke who got booted from the NSA for asking too many awkward questions?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Refreshingly candid

      Meh.

      His statements are self serving.

      You really need to think about it a bit and hopefully then you'll understand why he's saying what he's saying.

      There is no 'openness' in his statements.

  5. Khaptain Silver badge

    So finally Snowden was a good thing or not

    Like most of the massive behemoths that the governmental institutions create it is necessary to give them a bloody good shake from time to time in order for them to avoid imploding.....

    The Snowden affaire has given them a little shake, quite a big one really, I wonder if it will be enough to waken up all these civil servants from their civil slumber.

    These institutions appear to have too much slack and I always wonder who's interests they really serve. I hope this serves then as a reminder that they are a public not a private service..

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Remind me again...

    "So this is not shame on China, this is shame on us. For not protecting that kind of information."

    Remind me - whose job was that?

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Remind me again...

      In the case of the OPM, the primary responsibility belonged to the OPM directo, her CIO and those who work for them implementing and maintaining systems and networks.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Remind me again...

      Someone else's.

  7. Gasp!
    Holmes

    Deductively

    Deductively thinking...does this involve duct tape?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Deductively

      Yup, along with a bucket of water and a pair of electrodes.

  8. Roo
    Windows

    So much for all that oversight then...

    Hayden has mades a mockery of the oversight by going on the record with "I would not have thought twice, I would not have asked permission".

    He's talking about hacking records in China so there's a chance the oversight bods won't give a toss, but the flip side of the coin is that the superpowers have declared that such activities are an act of war. I find it disturbing that the leaders of a world superpower lack the authority to deter heads of intelligence agencies committing acts of war simply because they can.

    Fair play to the man for laying his cards on the table though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: So much for all that oversight then...

      haven't you noticed we ARE at War - Cyber-World War I or World War III take your pick

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: So much for all that oversight then...

        "haven't you noticed we ARE at War - Cyber-World War I or World War III take your pick"

        I haven't noticed any declarations of War yet. I have seen lots of dick-waving and wankers trying to earn a buck from making more heat & noise though.

  9. Permidion
    Mushroom

    My Bullshit-O-Meter..

    exploded.

    It's out of range, Capt'n

    1. Antonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Re: My Bullshit-O-Meter..

      ditto

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe

    The Chinese just want to make sure that the corporations in which invest heavily can employ the best workers they can find and if they have good Govt contacts all the better.

  11. DougS Silver badge

    Amazingly how the positions change

    When someone is a "former" US official - and has no intention/desire to become one again.

    The difference between his statements now and the statements he was making while he was in the job are quite amazing. He's still suspicious of Snowden, but unlike most of the rest connected to the government in high places, he's not tossing around the treason word or suggesting that Snowden cost lives.

    1. HildyJ

      Re: Amazingly how the positions change

      Never trust a current official of a government or industry when they are commenting on their government or industry.

  12. Phuq Witt
    Boffin

    Spy vs. Spy?

    Life's a Riot.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Snowjob

    He ain't smart enough to work for a foreign country. He's just a narcissistic fool.

  14. Afernie

    "I'd have launched the Star Fleet and we'd have brought those suckers home at the speed of light,"

    In my head, he said that in a North Korean accent. That's the kind of blustery nonsense they propagandise with.

  15. Dylan Fahey

    scumbag

    Only a scumbag like Michael Hayden would know the word " inveigle " and use it in a sentence.

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