Ex-NSA Boss: Fourth Amendment Dispensable in Post 911 World

The former boss of the CIA and the NSA, retired Gen. Michael Hayden, tells USA Today the Constitution and the Bill of Rights impede the smooth functioning of a Stasi police state. He said the NSA should not be required to seek court warrants in its widespread surveillance.

“Right now, since there have been no abuses and almost all the court decisions on this program have held that it’s constitutional, I really don’t know what problem we’re trying to solve by changing how we do this,” he said in reference to recommendations proposed by Obama’s task force on surveillance.

Hayden sidestepped a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon issued earlier this month. Leon, a Bush appointee, said “the almost-Orwellian technology that enables the Government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States is unlike anything that could have been conceived in 1979,” when the case of Smith v. Maryland presented before the Supreme Court permitted the government to collect data without a court warrant. “The notion that the Government could collect similar data on hundreds of millions of people and retain that data for a five-year period, updating it with new data every day in perpetuity, was at best, in 1979, the stuff of science fiction.”

For the government and its intelligence apparatus, so-called metadata is only a Stasi state baby step. Michael Morell, a former acting director of the CIA and a member of the task force, has recommended expanding the massive surveillance program to include email. “I would argue actually that the email data is probably more valuable than the telephony data,” he said last week. He believes listening in on telephone calls and reading the email of Americans will prevent another 9/11.

Prior to a ruling by U.S. District Judge William Paley on December 27 stating that the NSA’s rampant violations of the Fourth Amendment are legal, Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor who is a member of a White House panel established to investigate NSA violations unearthed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, said evidence that massive surveillance prevents terrorist attacks is “very thin.”

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